True Grit! What is freedom? !tirG eurT

I had another amazing day today after what started lousily. But time and time again—as has been a recurring theme in and out of different yoga studios throughout Los Angeles over this seven-year period of being on the West Coast—I am nearing the conclusion that the business of expanding personal freedom is so far from a given and that to continue and thrive, it must be fought for every day, both outside and in. And it wouldn’t be so tasty if is was easy. In yoga as in many other sports necessitating endurance, this persistence is commonly referred to as ‘breaking through’ or having that ‘second (or third) wind’. Recently, in yoga classes, I have found myself in physically-demanding poses where the burning sensation in my thigh muscles or shoulders felt as if my flesh was burning so hot it would melt off of my body like hot plasma. This pain is what many teachers in one way or another have routinely suggested as a place where one come to terms with whole selves. It is in the middle of these postures where healthy relationships to our edge of limitations are confronted as well as the opportunity to enlarge or expand them. This is done by disassociating the negative stigma that we might attach to physical and/or mental pain while holding the poses. Furthermore, many teachers  suggest that if we worked on changing our attitudes during these postures towards acceptance of discomfort and pain we might start breathing fire! : ) Or just experience extreme joy.

I have come to take up this cause, of observing calm in the midst of chaos both in yoga as is in life. Any storm, no matter how big or threatening, will dissipate, “so breathe” the  teachers say. So, throughout my last few weeks here, I’ve put in concrete terms, that the high and lows happen no matter what, but how we handle ourselves in between is what really is at stake: The present moment, and it begs one to take a position, one that will constantly recur and will always invite a solution; are we the ones deciding or are we being decided for? I trust that in one of life’s greatest questions, it must be worth the pain of finding out.

***

 

 

I know my time has come. I see the ship and I am standing on the foggy port, bags packed, myself readied. The smell of salty and fishy water washes in my nostrils. I breathe it in becoming intoxicated by its wildness as well as by my mind moving in tandem with it. I am in admiration of having been delivered to bask in a deep brightness.

Others move about as if around me, it is a normal and normally-lovely day. I can feel uplift sprouting about as people mill about, as if their dreams and aspirations weren’t trapped and suffocated in only our individual shells but fluid, seeking, wandering and circulating among us all, and what we feel, which is resplendent! The sun has poked through. Amidst haziness, a patch of the ocean shimmers and light scatters about.

To which I feel free is yours as much as mine. Rejoice, for we have arrived in astute fashion from dank and bloodied repositories with vision blinded by betrayal of an epic magnitude. Whatever it was, you’re forgiven, but only because you have paid your dues, put in your toil and turned in your hours from when you were called upon. You were in safe-holding all along, while unbeknownst to you, your mettle was being evaluated and scrutinized. Did you think we’d let you down after all this?

You have fundamentally changed, and have been changed by the world, no longer to be relegated to trivial pursuits. You have been called upon for life’s ultimate journey which is, that it is yours and yours fully. Now take it and make us proud.

***

The smile on his face is one that bares semblance to reality, no longer easy and cheap, but fought for and wrested from compromised hands to have made his own and in his own form.

Descriptive exercise

After writing this, I am going to take a picture of an engine. Here is what I’m going to do before: I am going to look for my keys, grab them (the whole hunk of them are sure to be found anchoring the bottom of my coat pocket), or maybe I slip on said puffy coat (because really, its silken-polyester fabric adds lovely ease to putting it on – as if there is little difference between itself and the air, literally). I will then walk out of this building (my boots’ click-clacking will echo even louder against the thin, linoleum-covered floorboards of this empty gallery space. The matte-black, glass-encased metal door will hinge and swing open. The sound of the metal, gold-colored and round bell dangling from the door’s handle on a piece of long thin cream-colored rope will clang against the glass and both bell and glass will cause a little cacophony of sound that resonates a different pitch or timbre, depending on the person walking in. It can be said that the sound is really a portrait of the person opening the door and to clarify more than that, it is a portrait of the person themselves, and how they open a door. How one opens a door communicates everything!!!!

After opening the door and letting it close behind me (as it will), I will cut across the lobby of pale, trampled hunter’s green, slightly turquoise-speckled carpet – by the looks of it, it probably has been there for over 15 years. It is so thinned, gently faded and impressed. I will walk out of this building’s front entrance, that is, I will pass through two solid gloss-brown-painted, heavy, wooden doors and finally, step outside, walking around to the right, up through the walkway – it being skirted by concrete columns and the building’s own, almost unnaturally light-brown brick facade. A wheelchair-access ramp of brittle, crumbling shale tile with a raised curb marks the end of the walkway and of the building’s extremities itself. It is common for people (who aren’t in wheelchairs) to walk up, on over this ledge and step down, which would put you to the side of the building, where there is a two-lane driveway of light-gray, newer pavement that runs along the building’s side and to the back where, demarcated by a 75-foot long, matte-black, wrought-iron gate – made irregularly bent by cars from the parking lot on the other side, smashing into it over the years – a lone parking lot sits on the other side, at slightly varying levels to the building’s alley. Finally, I see my car, huddled as it is, facing out and away from me, towards the rear entrance of the building’s premises, against the darker, redder front brick wall. I have put my coat on as previously mentioned, and unlock the car remotely, with my fingers feeling the squishy rubber button’s round, triangular pad from within my pocket. I have worn the rubber pad over the last 6 years to become soft and pliable. I have to get closer to the car than I expect for the remote to work. The signal is obscured through the materials of the coat. Otherwise, it will work from about 15 feet or so. As I draw within 5 feet of the car, the yellow tail-lights flicker telling me that the car has responded to its key. I pull under the latch to the driver-side front door, pull as it unbuckles, opening the door and with my right hand and arm, pull the hood lever noticing (under to the left of the steering wheel) how it takes extra strength to give, before the deep and vibrating sound of an unbuckle is heard/felt from within the car’s belly. I return to the front of the car, leaving the driver-side door open. I lift the latch under the hood. The engine is still warm from a previous drive. I lift and place the rod’s hook under the hood where there is an arrow pointing to a small, oval recess. Here it goes.

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