Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happiness addenda

A few more things:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The lousy mood I've often been in this winter has (shockingly) not been ameliorated by any of my navel gazing, hand wringing, woe is me posts, so I'm going to try something different, and list some things I'm happy about.

  • Trees. In general, and also one very specifically.

  • Radio drama. Afghanada (great), Canadia 2056 (okay), Monsoon House (meh)... even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

  • The hours between 8 and 10 pm, which usually find me lying on my couch, listening to the radio, falling asleep. Delicious.

  • There are people who read this blog who I don't even know, and who have never commented. I don't know who they are, but Google Analytics tells me they are out there, and that's something that makes me oddly happy.

  • The good people of New Paltz. I just took a walk to the library on my lunch break, and had four very different and interesting conversations with four very different and interesting people. This happens to me almost every time I step out my door. We have a great per capita of different and interesting people here.

  • I have read some great books in the past year. Wall to Wall. Late Nights on Air. I Capture The Castle.

  • Hiking, swimming, biking season will soon be here. Not to mention my CSA share.

  • My old landlady still calls me and asks me what I'm cooking.

  • My best friend in Ottawa knows I miss watching the Rick Mercer Report, and she thinks about me whenever she watches it. She even researched how to bypass the CBC's geoblocking for me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watchmen - a review

A review of the graphic novel, that is, which I finished reading this morning.

I should start by saying that I'm generally not a fan of the comic book / graphic novel genre, though Maus and Persepolis were both very, very good, and lived up to the hype surrounding them. But both of those titles used what is an essentially frivolous medium to look at deadly serious real world issues, and I think that's why they worked. Watchmen, on the other hand - well, vigilante crime fighters in skin tight suits of primary colours isn't exactly a big stretch for a comic.

Having said that, Watchmen wasn't half bad, and it did raise some interesting issues. The first, of course, is the question that is explicitly asked by the story: Who watches the ones who watch over us? This question has been asked to death, though, so I'm not going to devote any more ink to it. Or pixels, rather. I'll move on to some of the other questions that occurred to me: Do we, individually or as a species, need to have an enemy in order to define ourselves or establish our sense of identity? Deprived of such an Other, do we necessarily create one for ourselves? And, um... what if we didn't? How would that go?

I think the answer to the first two questions is probably yes. Perhaps a nuanced yes, but one way or another, for almost all of us, yes. The third and fourth questions? H'mmm. It just occurs to me now that those are the questions I'm asking by resuming correspondence with my father. Interesting.


I am REALLY looking forward to that day in the far distant future when I feel comfortable teaching a yoga class. I am sick of getting so nervous that I stumble over my words, can't remember the tune of the chant that I begin class with, silently berate myself all the way through class for not knowing what I'm doing.

It has been a long time since I've done something this... different. And challenging for me. Unfortunately, at this point I'm only getting tapped to sub about once a month, so I'm not getting enough experience to become more comfortable with it.

I wrote a few months ago about feeding the mind either garbage or gourmet. I've been feeding myself a lot of garbage lately, and I think it's more apparent when I'm teaching because, as I observed when I first started teaching, this part of my practice keeps me honest. I can't hide when I'm up there. I can't go on autopilot, because I'm just not good enough at this yet. I have to be there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh dear, oh dear.

How can something so wrong be so... no, actually, this is just entirely wrong.

And by the way, there's more.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

use your illusion

There is a good number of dichotomies that are discussed in yoga philosophy - effort and surrender, which I wrote about quite a bit last year; matter and spirit (prakrti and purusa); self and Self. One of my teachers talks a lot about concealment and revelation. She's been talking about it for years, actually, but I never really heard what she was saying (maybe because a lot of her discussion has had to do with our innate divinity, which is not an idea that resonates with me). Well, I've been giving more thought to this duality over the past few days. I can't count the number of times I've been absolutely certain that something (usually wretched) was going to happen; I'd read the tea leaves, and all the signs pointed to calamity. Yet almost invariably, at the moment when concealment is replaced by revelation, my worst fears don't come to pass. There's always some crucial element of moderation that I fail to see or which I dismiss. "The worst things in my life never happened." I think Mark Twain said that.

What do we do when we can't see what's coming next? When the horse blinders are on and we're hurtling down the track, hell bent on an uncertain fate? It's no secret that I aim for the bottom and assume the worst. Hell, even when I can see that everything's going to be alright, half the time I still assume that I must be missing something, and everything will go south in the end.

As effort and surrender deal with action, concealment and revelation are attributes of perception. It's a subtler schism, easier to overlook, and harder to talk about. I'm curious about the role that faith plays here. Part of me chafes at the use of that word, with its suggestion of showy displays of religiosity. But devoid of those unpleasant connotations, faith is simply a belief that is not supported by evidence. It does not have to mean a belief that flies in the face of evidence. What we believe when we have no reason to believe one thing over another says a lot about who we are. So what do my beliefs say about me? And what would it mean to believe something else - something less apocalyptic? Why is that such a struggle for me?