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.

Creme de la Creme

[So I get in the occasional mood where I think to ask for help would be to be weak. Wrong! I’m wrong. In truth, I was thinking, if I have to depend on someone, then I am dependent. What a crazy mindset to have I am now thinking. I need to learn how to identify a problem better so I can ask for the right kind of help.]

I had an awesome day yesterday. I learned a lot and I cleared my head. It didn’t hurt that the weather was a balmy 78 degrees with the sun’s reflections rippling across the city, pouring through various thickets of foliage and creating suspended, balanced geometries of shadow-play all over the city. All you had to do was go outside and you were thrust into the fury of its delight. I was down to see where it went, like questing for gold at the end of the rainbow. (I actually tried to do this when I was young, less for the gold, and more to go where I hadn’t been before. If this isn’t the allure of being young and much smaller-bodied — where the world beyond the neighborhood street you grew up on is completely and only known by the imagination — I don’t know what is.)

I found myself in Glendale and stepped onto Brand Avenue. I looked toward Downtown and the sparkling Angeles Crest mountains beyond in what became kind of a live painting of balanced elements between the hard edges of the buildings, the irregular edges of the rocky mountains beyond them and the wide open walkway of the avenue stretching out into both as they reflected the sun in a kaleidoscopic clarity. It was a sight/sleight of beauty.

I turned off the strip, honing in on a residential street that would eventually take me to my car. I found myself in a pocket of stillness. A brief moisture was in the air. The leaves gently fluttered as the city sounds dampened. I had a cup of warmed coffee in my hand and I was looking at Facebook on my phone, thinking of a certain someone momentarily, and noticed the odd lack of palm trees in Glendale.

I was driving back toward the freeway, the street was so congested that I made a U-turn and so headed out southbound. At this point, I wasn’t sure where I was going, but that was sort of the point. We don’t allow ourselves to get lost enough. When I got closer to Silverlake and Los Feliz, I phoned my bff since high school, Mike. Though he was out, I just continued on tracing Los Feliz Blvd as it undulated up and down beneath a tunnel of tree and mountain shade. I felt as if on this path, that instead of being carried by gas, that I was instead lifted by the fluttering breeze only to land upon Griffith Park where I turned in and parked facing down the street. Without thinking, I plopped down on a shady spot along the bank.

It was starting to become evening. My restlessness was getting the better of me though, and soon, I could be found exploring the hillside moving from Los Feliz to Hollywood to West Hollywood. I ended up at Regen Projects because I had stumbled into it while picking up my car from the tire shop. Unconsciously, I think I might be creating diversions in order to see more of the city and gain my footing in it. You know how you enter something new and now I guess it’s that I’m needing to see what all is there in order to make the best navigational choices. Also, I think it’s also to continually seek and find inspiration. We all need it to continue making the life we want, whatever that is. It gets too easy to not get out, and to get caught up in a routine or work. Let’s break the pattern! Let’s break the conditioning. Let’s just…live.