Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fighting the water

So, when I was growing up, I took swimming lessons at the YMCA every Saturday morning. I don't think my parents especially cared whether I could swim or not, they just wanted us kids out of their way so that they could clean house or fight or sleep or throw potted plants at each other or whatever. (My money's on throwing potted plants at each other. Or... whatever.) Anyway, I remember that early on in my training my instructors commented that it looked like I was fighting the water. Eventually I hit my stride, I guess, but in the beginning, every movement looked like I was engaged in a life and death struggle against an amorphous enemy. I wasn't using my energy very wisely.

Well, I've long since stopped fighting the water literally, but I still have the sense that I'm fighting it figuratively sometimes. I've felt really frustrated since getting back from Guatemala. What the hell am I doing? During the past year, I had this great over arching drive in my life - teacher training. Now that's over, and I feel like I'm floundering. I need something new to motivate me, around which I can order my life, and I just don't know what it's going to be. And I know that the harder I look for it, the less likely I'll be to recognize it. So I'm still fighting the water. I need to let it go. It's not going to come until I'm calm.

Another phrase that's been dancing across my synapses lately - "went without the meat and cursed the bread." It's from a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson (if I remember correctly). I've been letting my desire for things I don't have taint my appreciation of the good things I do have. (And of course, the things I'm talking about here are not really things.) Like fighting the water, this is completely counterproductive. Can I be grateful for what I have and still want something else? I guess that's the trick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"...resolved to being born and so resigned to bravery..."

Last night, I taught my sample class at Jai Ma. I'd been fretting about it earlier in the week; worrying if I was ready, if I'd planned a long enough sequence, if I'd stumble over my words to the point of distraction. By Tuesday afternoon a sort of calm of resignation fell over me. If I wasn't ready, I was never going to be. I'd done as much preparation as I could do, and I needed to let go of expectation and just let it flow.

There were a few improvements I could have made to the class - holding postures longer, a bit more explanation on gross alignment in some postures, giving more options for modifications in challenging postures; but on the balance, the class went very well. I was calm; my sequence was well received; I didn't fumble (much) with wording; I gave a lot of touch corrections and was comfortable doing so. Most importantly, perhaps, I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed planning out a sequence, and I enjoyed watching it unfold in front of me.

It is a relief to have this done. I had felt it hanging over my head since June, when I finished my teacher training; but what with international travels, a slight case of yoga burnout, and struggles with self doubt, I kept putting it off for the past two months. Now I can begin substitute teaching at Jai Ma. And paying back the debt of gratitude I owe the yoga community for keeping me (relatively) sane over the past six years.

ADDENDUM: It struck me this afternoon that my audition at Jai Ma was hands down the best job interview I've ever gone on! I got to wear shorts and I didn't have to make up a pack of lies about where I see myself in five years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP

I know this is a bit belated. Solzhenitsyn, great 20th century Russian author and misanthrope, died about a week ago. The very next morning, there was an eight page obituary in the New York Times (well, it was eight pages on their website; I don't know how long it ran in the paper). This brought up something I've wondered about in the past... the Times must have had most of this obituary already written, right? So if you are famous and live long enough, major newspapers will assign staff writers to write your obituary, even if you're not pushing up daisies yet. What an odd thing to contemplate. I wonder if they also write obituaries for out of control starlets who seem like they could die at any moment. Britney? Lindsay?

I hate the fact that I just mentioned those two in a post about Solzhenitsyn. Totally inappropriate.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, rest in peace. I ran into a Trotskyist on the private bus from Xela to Guate a few weeks ago. You probably would have hated him, but I was just grateful for our conversation (which punctuated the endless stream of Jean Claude van Damme movies that were, incongruously, playing on the bus).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Regresé a casa

Well, I'm back home. I was expecting to get back to New Paltz at 8pm last night; instead, thanks to a variety of airport delays and reroutings, I got back around 5:30 this morning. Spent more than 24 consecutive hours in planes and airports! Yippee!

I am so tired. And I've almost completely lost my voice. It's been a rough few days. I'll have more to say, of course, but for now, a teaser: a shot I took of an indigenous woman and her child in a one room chocolate processing facility in Xela (Quetzaltenango):