Thursday, March 27, 2008

Empty Space and Points of Light

“Are we all living like this? Two lives, the ideal outer life and the inner imaginative life where we keep our secrets?

I’m not looking for God, only for myself, and that is far more complicated. God has a great deal written about Him; nothing has been written about me. God is bigger, like my mother easier to find, even in the dark. I could be anywhere, and since I can’t describe myself I can’t ask for help... Some of them have told me that the very point of searching for God is to forget about oneself, to lose oneself for ever. But it is not difficult to lose oneself, or is it the ego they are talking about, the hollow, screaming cadaver that has no spirit within it?
I think that cadaver is only the ideal self run mad, and if the other life, the secret life, could be found and brought home, then a person might live in peace and have no need for God. After all, He has no need for us, being complete.”
--Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry

What else needs to be said?

The yoga blog is over. Jeanette has verbalized everything we’re wanting to say only better.

To find oneself, to lose oneself. Atman, Brahman. “Empty space and points of light.” (Jeanette)

It seems that truth is anything that is not steadfast. Truth is the force of mystery created by contradiction.

I’ve been thinking about why the yoga blog can be so intense. Why aren’t we writing just about the physical challenges of the postures, or how blissful we feel afterwards, or whatever? Instead we write about the big mysteries it brings up for us late at night. Uschi said that when she first started practicing yoga seriously all these new feelings came up and after yoga she’d get in fights with her boyfriend. Maybe that’s why sometimes lately I can’t sleep. Because yoga (thank god) makes me conscious of how so many areas of my life are putting the squeeze on me to figure myself out, to be authentic, to make wise decisions based on self-understanding, aaahh!

It’s so easy to write about negatives. In a writing class once I had to write about the food I hated the most in the world. Those fennel seeds you can grab on your way out the door of some Indian restaurants—ew. I almost broke up with someone over fennel breath once. Writing about my passionate hatred of those seeds was natural, satisfying, and fun.

But writing about (or talking about) positives is much harder. Even with food, let alone emotions. It’s easy to sound fake. (melts in your mouth, tastes like heaven) I’m never as inspired to write a yoga blog as in the middle of the night in the midst of some emotional storm.

Sometimes in my quest to be truthful, open, and honest, I forget to be mindful. I’m wondering if truth isn’t a little more complicated than saying whatever the hell is on my mind at any cost in any situation. I confuse my thoughts with my truth. Instead maybe truth is the careful expression of those thoughts after they’ve been weighed against an intuitive sense of what is true.

Recently I’ve discovered an enjoyable column in the Yoga Journal called “Wisdom” by Sally Kempton. In the May issue her topic is honesty. She says, “Truth is a genuine teacher. When you decide to follow where it leads—constantly asking questions such as, What is my motive for speaking? Is it kind and necessary to say this? If not now, how will I know that it’s right to say this?—the power of truth will show its subtleties as well as teach its wisdom.” I liked that. It seems more loving, more artful, than just naked, unexamined honesty. And I’ve been surprised at how often my motivation to speak is nothing more than to get attention rather than because I really have something to say.

And since French Toast always keeps us focused by asking "what does this have to do with yoga?" I will say that I think yoga gives me a chance to practice being connected with the inner voice that tells me what is true and what is not.


FrenchToast said...

sister you are the writer in the familia, i am just a big poser.
some thoughts:
1. jeanette winterson ruins EVERYTHING. everytime i think i have an original, beautiful thought, i read one of her books and find she's already said it, more succintly, more powerfully, more beautifully. i hate and love her as i hate and love myself.
2. who had fennel breath?
3. i like that sally kempel, too. her column a few months back was actually about how yoga can shove you down an emotional shithole, even after years of practice. I like the quote in the beginining, "two lives, the ideal outer life and the secret imaginative life where we keep our secrets". Practicing yoga, for me, is sometimes like having those two lives interesect. Don't ask me how, or why.
"Because yoga (thank god) makes me conscious of how so many areas of my life are putting the squeeze on me to figure myself out, to be authentic, to make wise decisions based on self-understanding, aaahh! "
5. Sister woman you are the genius in the family, always have been, always will be. I didn't know you read Sexing the Cherry. Did I tell you to? It's so good...

Ashley said...

1. we should invite jeanette to be a guest blogger. her login could be "Fruit Tart."

2. "Lamefest '99" had Fennel Breath. well i have no idea if it was in 99. but it was the mustang driver sheltie owner punk saxophonist that liked both you and me. classy.

3. too bad i missed that column. sounds really good. question--how, or why is practicing yoga like having those two lives intersect?

4. this seems to be just a direct quote from the blog. but more aaaaahhhs may be needed. aaaahhh

5. sister woman so far everything i've quoted or referenced on the blog i know because of you. sufjan, dar, david bowie, and yes, jeanette. remember i was always trying to steal your copy in paris and you wouldn't let me? well in holland i happened upon my own copy in a used bookstore. you are fifty-hundred times as cool, beautiful, nice, sensitive, and brilliantly poetic etc. not to mention, you are pretty much the sole author of the sister dictionary. i'm just an SSL learner (sister as a second language).

6. sorry i posted this so soon after your blog without letting yours have the glory at the top that it deserved.

FrenchToast said...

"lamefest 99". oh, the memories. the 'lifestyle'. get it? i forgot he liked us both. you won him, you beetch.

Ashley said...

to clarify, he wasn't really a lamefest, he just gave us that phrase. and don't worry, he would have dated us both if he could have!

FrenchToast said...

i think you're secretly always trying to one-up me in the yoga blog. everytime i post, an entry, you instantly set to writing one. jerkface.


FrenchToast said...

the extra comma in that sentance is for dramatic effect. read as such.

Zen Muffin said...

one of the teen center girls shared one of her poems with me, about being really mad at someone. she said she really only writes when she's upset, because "it helps you work through it" and "other people aren't as interested in reading the happy stuff."