Sunday, May 29, 2011

The start of the beginning?

May 29th is a special day for me - it is my wife Marianne's birthday, so I like to have this day to myself.  I'm a little protective of this day.  I try to wrap it up in my arms and hold it tight all day, and maybe in that way it will be a little different and last a bit longer.  Ever since I lost Marianne, I make this day a quiet day.  Now that's not the same as "still"  - not parsing anything here but merely drawing a distinction.

Quiet involves saving the day for myself - no outside interruptions.  I practiced my yoga on the terrace before I ventured out to the local market - nice, peaceful practice, but not yet still.  I should have taken my dictionary with me to the market but I was pretty sure what I wanted.  So now I know what the Spanish word "medio" means.  Jumping to conclusions in the heat of the moment I ordered a "pollo medio", pretty sure I was getting a medium sized chicken.  I was a little surprised when I opened the package at home:  now I will remember that "medio" means half not medium.  I made up the difference in bread.

The days seem to slow down out here.  But there are no real markers to remind one of the day's passage. It can slide from morning into afternoon with very little warning.  And the the afternoon is so long - it hardly becomes evening until so late - we have light until 9:30 pm.  Of course it's almost June so the days are approaching their longest, but that always seems to be a surprise. Then, before you are ready for the change, they start getting shorter again and one has to fight the urge to countdown to Christmas.  Someone should mention this on the news, like a sort of public service announcement, and then I can be prepared for the days to start getting shorter instead of feeling slightly jipped when it happens, without warning.

As the afternoon slides by, so does one day slide imperceptibly into another, and very soon I will be two weeks into this new life without really having got started yet.  So I have done a little weeding, checked the pool water for Pl or Ch or something like that, hung out the washing and brought it back in again a few times.  There have been things happening, but nothing yet that I can point to and say "that's moved me forwards" - so I've started.  I think I'm just getting ready to begin.

So with apologies to Churchill, this is not yet the beginning;  it's not even the start of the beginning;  but it's kind of like the beginning of the start to get ready to begin ...  this new life.  I've got a couple of more things to get done - maybe this week, or maybe next - and then I should be ready to think about starting.  That seems pretty straight now.  Now where did I put that bottle of Rioja...  that's a full bottle not a bloody medio.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

WTF am I doing here?

Machis-where?  Somewhere in Southern Spain...

It seems a long way from Northern Virginia -  and so it is.  In fact, it's a long way from one end of the Hondon valley to the other end, where Macisvenda sits and waits.  And now I sit and wait.  It's the local past-time, whether you are indigenous to the valley or you arrived by RyanAir - ash or no ash.  They say that unemployment is over twenty percent, but not here:  we're busy doing nothing, waiting the whole day through, trying to find etc.  The dwarfs were right after all.

But in mental space, it's a lot further than the nine hour Aer Lingus flight to Madrid followed by the five hour car rental that practically demolished what remained of the retirement fund after Wall Street had taken its bite in 2008.  (Remember that we are all works in progress, and a little bitterness will rear up every now and then.) 

So I have crossed a great mental space, taken a long leap into the relative unknown,  all with the expectation of creating some kind of cathartic event which will jump me from one state into another. Except that the unknown is not so very much unknown - it just seems like that from a long way away.

Before I left the USA, a number of my students and fellow teachers said "Are you going to write about it?" - as if it was a given - a kind of expectation that I would write.  So I will, from time to time.  And what shall I write about, I hear you ask. Well, I will write about the search for that stillness, the stillness that comes when the asana is working just right, the breathing is quiet and the mind has settled. It is as if we have just opened the door into a new room and stepped in; we are looking around and forming our first impression of the furniture in the room, where the windows are and how to find the exit when we run out of time or breath or strength or all of the above.  And as we decide to stay for just a while in this room for just a moment, it is in the moment that we glimpse that stillness - that shadow, that warmth, that peace that is almost always just out of reach.

Searching for that stillness is now the work of my life rather than the twenty seconds or so in that asana.  There'll be one or two diversions along the way.  After all, how many times have I said in class that life does not progress in a straight line?  So let's not expect this journey to move ahead in an unerring, positive, unbroken line to its conclusion.  We will have a few steps back and a few to the side before we pick up the track once again. 

Let me know if you want to come along.