Busy, Busy, Busy

RE: Friday night Flow. Don’t condemn those who avoid yoga. The very thought of being trapped in a room wearing little more than underwear is disturbing to some folks. I’ve seen bright minds of my generation attempt yoga in socks. Sock-yogis remind me of my rustic friends who hate the internet because dial-up is agonizingly slow. When I suggest upgrading to satellite connection their eyes get round. In a snort of disgust they argue why pay more for such an annoying product? Yoga in yer socks is like that. I’ll never get good until my feet hit the ground, but why would I strip for such a cloying sport? Ah well, flow yoga stimulates, percolates, agitates. Yoga permeates schools, parks, churches – yes churches. There’s even a yoga class that meets in the basement of Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago.

I swear I don’t make this shit up.

The self-imposed stress of wearing more spandex than any human is actually comfortable in, is an activation process. Endure that stress and get yer cortisol up to combat unexpected stress. Urban living, noisy, dangerous and unpredictable, keeps city-dwellers at a subconscious low-grade stress constantly. They don’t know it until they hit the mat. The relatively controlled stress of a yoga class releases. When frustration, anger and fear have a place to tremble they are less likely to bubble up into road rage and work related “incidents.” Incidents? Harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior are caused by stress AND cause us stress. Work place bullies activate self-protective defenses in us that stunt health. Emotional health is not a separate nor distinct from physical health.

Surprise surprise, to paraphrase Gomer Pyle. Stress is stress.

Seriously. If stress is stress I chose to fill my basket wisely. Driving is mildly stressful for me. Driving in LA? Untenable. Too stressful. I chose not. But what if, what if I have to live in the city for my job, education, benefits, etc.? Chose the city wisely. In Chicago and Honolulu public transportation is convenient, affordable and accessible. Both cities have foot-mobile traffic, walkways and parks, bicycle paths and bikers. Ironically, living rural creates more need for driving than my urban stints. I prefer the foot-mobile. Foot traffic is practical, low emission and virtually stress free. When people of yore walked for transportation they rarely felt the need to join gyms, clubs and yoga studios. Science fiction of the 1960s imagined worlds where machines freed us humans for recreation, for relaxation, for higher purposes.

Let’s ask Siri how that’s working for us.

In three words we’re “busy, busy, busy.”  As a culture we’re fearful, anxious and depressed, bi-polar, autistic and 12-step. The world is overcrowded. Gaia is a hot mess with climate change. The Earth, if she is an organism, might view us as gutsy bacteria in her intestine that have gotten too big for our britches. I know, yeah. Block that metaphor! My point is, and I do have one – we need to think more, not less. Now’s not the time for intellectual laziness. Donald Trump heralds the quick answer, the knee jerk reaction to stress. I give him props for having a judgement – although I mightily disagree. I’ve suffered too much marginalization. Too much for the color of my skin or my ethnic name or country of birth. Times a-wastin’ while the American populace forgets about light-skinned home-grown terrorists: Unabomber, Timothy McVeigh.

Overheard in a waiting room, “But if we don’t ban all Muslim travel what will we do?”

Think more not less. Be insightful. Judge based on self-identity. Google ’em. Few people these days can resist the internet. If fine fangled friends like to target practice, stockpile ammunition that isn’t enough to damn ’em. The question is, do they post rants? Hateful rants? It’s no sense turning this into a witch hunt. Let’s take people at their word. At least until they start bucking the algorithm. Deepen the visa screening processes. Investigate not annihilate. Whole-scale generalizations never helped nobody I state sardonically.  When yoga aficionados jump on-line after a shooting proclaiming love, forgiveness and lack of judgement I cringe. Make sense not war.

We need love, yes – but in terms of the time-space continuum time trumps space.

Love little kids so they won’t grow up to be monsters. Whatever children grow up with, registers as normal to them. If hate, anger, and bullying is modeled – they will perceive hate as normal, not stressful. Stress lies in perception. What is stressful for me, i.e. seeing my ex-husband, may not blip on your radar. He’s only a person to you, not a shared experience. Even if you and I drank the same drink, ate the same food, slept in the same bed for the same number of hours – I may have a higher tolerance for stress than you, just ‘cuz. Just winner of the genetic lottery so to speak. I benefited from the relative stability I enjoyed as a child. Relative stability. My baseline for normal included lots o’travel through foreign lands. Strangeness don’t necessarily offend me.

There’s no accounting for taste.

What writers do as a matter of course is re-frame things: events, dialogue, information. Bloggers and essayists make points by organizing ideas rhetorically. Fiction writers get into the minds of other people. If they couldn’t every character would read like a self-portrait. That would be dull. Being able to see another person’s perspective does not mean I agree. I understand American football is popular and all, but I don’t watch it myself unless snacks and company is involved. When we can see things from another person’s perspective manipulation is simple. Terrorists know what scares us. What we don’t know is what make them tick. Our ignorance makes us vulnerable. Much as I dislike feeling vulnerable, running off half-cocked is no panacea. We must think more to evolve to a higher plane, we can’t stay where we are now and expect to figure things out.

Busy, busy, busy.

If love is the answer we must apply love where it can staunch deep-seated feelings of alienation, disenfranchisement and isolation. If children must be born then children must be loved. Babies need love from day one. The first two years are the most important. If I don’t really really like myself before I reproduce, loving someone else is challenging. I’ll model self-hatred, or at least self-disappointment when I lack self-esteem. That ain’t right. Maybe I don’t think I hate myself, but I hate my feet, my hair, my belly fat – my inability to do math. Lack of self-acceptance is a tough lot. Recognizing self deficiency rarely cures it. The way to feel better is do better – but do better at what? I’ve got to do better at something I care about or this process just fails.

Evolution is a process not a theory.

A new friend tells me that all her yoga has evoked childhood memories. She says memories both “good and bad.” I wince. How about using “pleasant and less than pleasant ?” I suggest. She shrugs. Her question is, “How do I get rid of fear?” I suggest making friends with fear. Here’s where you walked in. I started this piece by suggesting yoga itself is a convenient place to face fears, melt them down to size, process and re-group. Perspective, maturity and greater understanding can erode the edges of fear. Fear is a god given emotion that deserves to be respected not buried. When fear is ignored it can resurface as illness, discomfort and anxiety. When fear is processed it becomes courage, preparedness, and stimulating. Little kids who are never taught how to process fear may grow up shameless or seriously shy.

Knee-jerk reactions to fear are instinctive, natural, and interesting. But we can do better than knee-jerk upon examination of the facts. Love Trump’s hate? Or love trumps hate? You be the judge.

Now y’all play nice.

Sat Nam