So far, 2015 seems to be a spiritual sabbatical for me.
Etymonline says this of sabbatical: “related to sabbatical year (1590s) in Mosaic law, the seventh year, in which land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released.” That sounds about right. I started Powa Centre in Wellington in 2008, though I’ve essentially been teaching for 14 years.
Much of my focus this year is on reconciling debts & freeing myself from unneeded obligations. Because last year also involved freeing myself from unneeded things, handing over my studio & unmooring myself from any particular Place, I continue to feel unmoored–like a small cork bobbing on an endless sea. Wandering along wondering what’s the point of any & every-thing when I’ve so effectively excised myself from the usual points of human existence.
Identity seems precarious. Who am I if I’m not teaching yoga, not identified by self-created family & not living in one place? Seems everywhere I go one of the first questions I’m asked is, “Where are you from?” Sometimes I stumble. Sometimes I get frustrated. If I’m feeling aligned & ready for the question I’ll counter with my own questions: “Do you mean where did I just come from? Or where was I born? Or what’s my philosophical platform?” One bus driver in Utah took these questions enthusiastically & wanted all the answers. He then asked me if I was LDS & when I had to ask him what that was, he knew I wasn’t (Latter Day Saints). That was part of my brief introduction into the main religions of Utah–Mormon & LDS.
While completely absorbed in my busy-ness of meeting bills & meeting people & meeting deadlines, even if I had questions about the point of existence, I had only surface energy to turn to them. Now, I have all of time to give to these ageless questions. And I seem to have found an answer in an episode of Bones on Netflix. Go figure. My mom wanted Netflix & someone had recommended Bones, so with absolute ignorance I watched the first episode in late January & have been addicted ever since. Which means I am nearly through 9 seasons in 3 months–that’s about 180 hours or roughly 2 hours/day spent watching a tv show when I’ve never owned a tv in my life! I can justify this binge by that fact–I’m making up for years of lost time parked in front of a screen. Or I can justify it by saying I’m learning an awful lot about anatomy & particulates & general murderous human behavior. Or I can justify it by saying I’m learning how to write a compelling story because obviously this story has lasted 9 years & still has an audience. At the very least it has this one ardent supporter.
And why does it compel me? In the same way that Shakespeare has done–by working on many levels at once. Bones often begins with a comedic discovery of the death story, then it parallels the murder theme with the theme that the main characters are exploring in their lives. There is a high language, however–unlike the poetic & often alliterative language of Shakespeare–this is the poetry of science. There are some plays/episodes that are comedic, some dramatic, and some even tragic. The producers vary these to keep the audience engaged over a long run. And then there are the bigger societal questions that are being asked–& perhaps this is ultimately what keeps me hooked. I’m curious to discover how they ask these questions in a way that doesn’t alienate or lose the mainstream audience–like slipping a questioning pill into someone’s drink. Interesting, at least to me.
But my point was that there is no point. Fisher is an intern working with Bones on identifying remains & he is morose with a dark sense of humour. On the episode I watched last night, he was a non-funny stand-up comedian & in one joke he says, “circles are pointless.” Bones, being the literal woman that she is, says “ah, I get it–circles are round so they have no point!” And then she laughs even though no one else does. I love her. By being so literal, she can show us Us. The way that autism generally can show us a societal symptom of sensitivity lost in the mechanization of humanity. She’s a genius that can come across as dumb, out-of-the loop & often hurtful simply because she says it so literally.
So circles are pointless. I teach in a circle because I have an unhappy thing with hierarchies & my understanding of the seasons is circular, or perhaps more spirallic. Yet circles are pointless because there is no Point of entry or exit–there is no beginning or end. Except the one we self-determine. Did my life begin at conception or at cutting the cord? Does it end at my last breath or when consciousness leaves my frame? Or beyond even these measures?
Not only is this year a rest for me–a way of letting my fields lie fallow–it also has happened to be filled with sacred healing ceremonies. In the First Nations they say the Sacred Hoop of existence needs mending–that the white man’s arrival on Turtle Island (what we now call the Americas) brought great (read devastating) change. Yet there are apparently some tribes who have prophecies that this tear in the hoop can be mended by the very same ones who tore it–the white folks. There’s another phrase in some First Nations that says to “walk in a Beauty Way.”
In my recent transit from the majesty of the hoodoos, canyons & mesas of Utah to the seeming chaos & filth of New York City, I grew weary & despondent. A friend reminded me that there is beauty & love everywhere, if we have the eyes & mind to recognize it.
So, yes, circles are pointless except in their Beauty. And that may be ultimately what saves us–learning to live life in-beauty. That puzzles me, but perhaps in puzzling over it, meditating on it, measuring it in my movements, I will begin to Be it. MYOGA these days involves some of the usual asana, pranayam, mantra & meditation, yet this seems to be my deeper, more driving, practice:
awakening each day to the eternal question of How can I see,
& then Be,
Beauty in a seemingly pointless world?