Saturday, May 10, 2008

Excerpts

Because I'm too lazy to write anything fresh, here are some excerpts from recent writings. First, from this morning's journal entry:

Yesterday, I told [my therapist] about quinuituq, deep patience - sitting by a seal hole, motionless, for hours, waiting for a seal to surface. There's absolutely no sign of anything happening until the very last instant. One simply waits. I've lately been wondering at what point the hunter abandons the hole and walks away, giving up the hope of catching a seal at that hole. How does he know when to call it quits? When he is in that calm mindset, quinuituq, does he simply know when it's time? Does he come bck to the same hole the next day and try again? How does he feel walking away, knowing he may have missed the seal by a few minutes?

My guess - and it's only a guess - is that when he's in that mindset of deep patience, he knows when it's time to walk away, and he probably doesn't second guess his decision when he does. But only if he's in that mindset; only if he is calm, and deeply patient.


And from a yoga homework assignment I handed in last month, and just received back (a summary of the excellent book Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi):

The box of monsters that Donna Farhi writes about, the uncomfortable parts of our psyche, may be likened to weeds stabilizing the soil of a steep slope. They are unsightly, perhaps, but they are performing a vital function, and it's important to tread lightly around them as we uncover what that function is. We are more than our box of monsters, though this is impossible to remember at times. "I am always a bit suspicious of people who walk around spouting angelic proclamations about how wonderful and beautiful and full of light everything is. When I meet people like this I have an overwhelming desire to go out and buy a handgun." Wow. I mean, wow! In years to come when I reflect on this book, I suspect that this will be one of the chief passages to which I return. Not that I advocate yogicide, of course, or any sort of violence for that matter, but I think I know exactly what Donna Farhi is talking about. Life isn't all kittens and rainbows, and it's very hard to deal with people who pretend that it is. Keep it real. (Of course, sometimes it is all kittens and rainbows, so the other half of keeping it real is recognizing those times as well.)

A lot (all?) of what Donna Farhi wrote about the descent into the pit of despair rang true for me. There is no bottom to the pit; there is always lower to go. Sometimes a breakdown, or a "dark night of the soul" (p. 206) occurs with no apparent reason. Not everyone experiences this, but many people do. This isn't necessarily a one-shot deal; we can find ourselves in the pit more than once. To call these sorts of experiences humbling robs them of some of their rawness. "Flattening" is a better word. One is pummeled by travels in the pit of despair that Donna Farhi writes about. Yet there is perhaps no other way to discover that the small self doesn't get the final word. If the small self is annihilated and we still find a way to keep on truckin', then there must be something more to life than a shopping list of "I am"'s, "I want"'s, "I don't want"'s, and "I fear"'s.

There's more to say, but I think I'll stop here. I'd like to end on an up note for a change.


My yoga teacher made some lovely comments about this paper; she called my writing lively, funny, and insightful. That felt really good.

2 comments:

NoRegrets said...

What class are you taking?

Also, I personally think there is a bottom to the pit. That bottom is the moment you choose, act on and are successful at suicide.

squirrel said...

This was for my 200 hour teacher training, which will end in a month, and which I will miss terribly when it's over, although it will be nice to have time to do other things again.

H'mmm... I don't know if I agree that that's a bottom. Taking that route cheats you of the opportunity to go deeper into the pit (not that I have any desire whatsoever to go deeper than I've already gone).