Thursday, April 23, 2015

Subvert the Status Quo

Abraham Joshua Heschel was an orthodox rabbi who was a philosopher, a friend of Martin Luther King and wrote The Sabbath among other books. He was particularly concerned with time and a proponent of the celebration of things in time rather than gaining power and control in the realm of space. He advocated creating a "cathedral in time."

In order to better describe this concept, I will tell you how I first came to understand it. Josh and I used to have the space in our schedule for regular Friday dates. We would rush to get ready, preparing food, cleaning up, sending out final emails, making last phone calls until finally shut the door with everything in place. Then as soon as things were set, we stopped, sat down together and time changed...

It slowed down, became luxurious and nourishing. We had nothing to do, only to be and enjoy for the duration. We would wear our best clothes, take them off, splurge on the best food, listen to whatever music, open a fantastic beer, watch a daytime movie. There were no real rules except not to invite in the profane; no phone, no computer, no answering the door. It continued and included the kids, after they came home from school, unless other plans couldn't be held at bay. And then we would do it again the next week. Another break in the regularly scheduled programming, something to look forward to, that nourished the soul, the relationship, life.

This is also why I do yoga. Yoga is not a goal. Not about exercising or changing this body I currently exist in, even though it does do both for me. Instead it is about having a date with myself, giving myself an hour in which to flow, to focus on planting my hands, stepping back, working at my full range of motion in enjoyment. I coordinate each inhale with my intention, with my body, the community in the room and each exhale with letting something go.

Note to self: This is also what I want for the classes I teach, be they with the kids, with the writing, or with yoga. I want to subvert the status quo and find all kinds of time for myself and others. No trying to catch up or change anything, just being one with the moment and the work we are doing, whatever it is.

Abraham Joshua Heschel: “To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when, in gaining power in the realm of space, we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.”
― Abraham Joshua HeschelThe Sabbath

Thursday, April 16, 2015


You need to come to my yoga class. And you need to make it work so that you keep coming. And you need to send that email. You need to take out the recycling. You need to drive in your mini-van past the corner where the homeless guy asks for money. You need to decide whether to look at him or look away. Maybe just hand him money? Do you even have cash? You rifle through the contents of your bag. The deodorant you keep on hand in case of emergencies falls out of your ridiculously small Timbuk2 purse. You never have to smell, but this man is ripe with need. Out falls the green-fake-snakeskin-wallet almost impossible to clamp shut due to the plethora of pennies that are too insulting to put in the tip jar at Dunn Bros. Pennies. You could give this man the pennies. Then bouncing on your thighs is the nylon fabric bag conveniently bundled to the size of an egg, lying in wait for the next coop run. Too bad you hadn't already been or you could hand the man a head of organic broccoli. Or would he prefer the local, but not quite organic, whole milk? Desperate for the light to change, your eyes meet. You smile and will him to forgive your indecisive waspyness. Yet his eyes dart from yours and you are not sure who is willing (or unwilling) to see whom. You see selling-out as a pattern of self-hatred that began long before this moment.

The Bangles' disappointing Walk Like an Egyptian album.
Nicolas Cage after Valley Girl.
Violent Femmes after their eponymous album even though you totally appreciated the darkness of Hallowed Ground?
And the other things you might resemble:
Fargo. Which part? Both the good Francis McDormand character and the weak why-did-he-have-to-go-and-do-that William H. Macy. Everyday.
Granola? Yes. Punk Princess gone to the darkside.
Portlandia? We did eat Herman after all.
Helicopter parenting? Um, do you know how long you breastfed them?
On and on.
The things that you resist you also become.

You press the gas too hard, flinching again as you think of the waste and the exhaust and the poor man you are leaving in your dust without even giving him a handful of pennies or deodorant. You want so much to feel better. You are working so hard to love yourself. Ugh. Did I just say that?

I am good enough. I am smart enough. And gosh darn, people like me.

You will too. Come to my class.