I get my meditations in, do my yoga routine, send a text to my sister-in-law if I might go over to Georgetown to visit the kiddies and the dog, and, since they are busy, I take a walking meditation down to the Whole Foods. My mind is awakened, in a non-judgmental state. Taking things in as I go through my list.
And then $140 later I'm walking home with two bags, taking periodic sips from the carrot juice and enjoying the light of late afternoon and the greenery of DC. Dupont Circle is golden and the leaves are out in full now, fresh under the blue sky. In to the wine shop, with that awkward friendliness, and then the last few blocks, appropriately up the busy avenue then turning off to progressively quieter streets.
I get a text from my traveling friend. 'What are up to? I'm thinking of going out.' After the long lug of twelve blocks I lean back with a book my therapist recommended, Darren Main's Yoga and the path of the Urban Mystic, and tune out for a while, drifting off after putting the book down for a little meditation. I wake up to the urrhhn..., urrhhn..., urrhnn..., urrhhn.., my iPhone vibrating like a buried trombone on the glass (of some sort) top of my Ikea coffee table. It stops ringing, I check it, and then there's a voicemail. "I'm in your 'hood, heading up to Petworth. Let me know if you feel like grabbing a beer." It is a beautiful night, and surely there are girls, young women, not so young women, fine people, out and about on a Saturday night in old DC.
But I rest on my spiritual insights of the day. And with a twinge of some guilt, I remain on the couch and pick up my book again. Good stuff. I read about how we have two reactions to things, avoidance or desire. The ego makes it seem a lot more complicated than that, making us get up and chase after whatever it is. And as I read, I'm good with my decision to stay put. It's a good night to do some homework, why?, because it is the present moment I must make good use of, and to put the ego away and to reach down past all the shoulds and shouldn'ts and reactions to the things of the world, as we do in meditation is a very good thing. I read one page, and then another, and then another, and I find it all really interesting, savoring slowly and thoughtfully as I have been all along. I'm getting near the end in fact. On I read, feeling a certain growing sense of self-satisfaction for having, at least once in my life, said no, get thee behind me, to Satan. Yup, that's how it feels.
I rise and do a little bit more yoga. I've never done a locust, so, after googling up an image of it, voila, here you go. And I've also been lazy about what turn out to be moon salutations, so I do the basic version, and yes, I've forgotten earlier to do my triangles, so that too. And then I meditate, first in full lotus, and then in corpse. Each chakra, breathe in, breathe out. Feel the alignment, making little adjustments. There doesn't quite seem to be the same spiritual energy as earlier, before the different little distractions and dealings, but it still helps tame the monkey mind. And yes, one must find happiness and contentment and peace within, in the deeper levels of consciousness.
Ah well, nothing fantastic happens. The incense I let doesn't seem to be transporting or transforming or enabling the powers of levitation, but, slowly, step by step, like the book probably says, you try. And I can tell, this kind of a Saturday night, as if at last, lived in the present, lived through the interior and not the exterior, is a good thing.
Eventually, the monkey caves in, and says, I think it's time for a glass of wine. Okay. I've got a chilled bottle of reliable Bouchard Aîné & Fils 2013 pinot noir and it even as a screwtop for easy access. There's Jimmy Fallon with u2 in disguise in a New York subway station playing "I Sttill Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," so I break out the guitar to catch that Edge sound. Would that one could sing like Bono, so, well, anther glass is poured. And having put a few things up on Facebook, which then necessitates putting more stuff up on Facebook, that sort of bubbling in the back of my sermonizing mind, eventually, at about 2 AM I get in touch with an old friend, a guy I've always been able to communicate with almost telepathically. He's a writer when he can be, a novel set in Romania during WWII; an excellent haberdasher, and he's made suits for Biden sons, shaken by the news of the loss at age 46 the man. It's been a long time since we spoke. Talk resembling that of an Irish wake.
I wake with the familiar finished the bottle feeling, and today it's back to work, so I get up and hydrate and observe the body's feelings, now empowered to do so. Not only have I accepted my long since childhood fascination with the root chakra, a gathering point for the energy of the universes strengthened by Margo Anand's good book The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, a treatise on tantric sexuality and appropriate exercises--natural as it is for the creature to be fascinated by his/her own naked body and what it might tell the spirit, but I am now better able to make note of the body's real reactions, taking them apart, feeling them bit by bit in the different spaces in the body. (Accepting this kind of sexuality enables one to effectively 'kill two birds with one stone,' ecstasy and enlightenment, power channeled through the core, energizing wherever it goes.) Green tea, water with lemon, risen, I'm soon feeling almost back to normal, still quite a mortal.
But it's good to say no to Satan and all the biddings of the ego to go looking for noble things outside. It is empowering, energizing. It is a boon for the confused ones like myself looking for a better way. It's hard, it's tricky, to say no. Loyalties from old work fables crop up. But as my mom says, 'you don't owe him anything.' Despite a bit of sin, I feel okay, and now time for some quick yoga before my own Monday morning.
The point I made, about Ernest Hemingway's state of prayer, made in a class a longtime ago, for Benjamin DeMott's Contemporary Cultural Criticism, which I have portrayed in the last chapter of A Hero For Our Time, was actually, now I see, a very subtle and profound point, a shift necessary when we speak of things like contemporary culture and the messages that are being sent in particular language. And at the end of the day, we do have powers, great powers at hand, to change the way we think. And this is what an artist does.
Hemingway was a shy man, and one able to step out of society, even after revel.