Within the evanescent ethereal swirling tremulous-particle core of yoga practice there is the need for words, just as there is the need for the physical poses of muscle and limb and things within. And there is within the core of writing the true need to do yoga and read about it, in order to grasp things which are barely comprehensible at first try. How could one possibly make the leaps of faith and its poses that is raja yoga without the engagement and consideration?
"Sorry, I've been tending bar the last five nights," I explain to the woman at Glen's Market who's offering sample tastes of power bars. I stopped to look, shyly, at the offerings of such on the shelf next to her, hoping she wouldn't notice me, but she asks me if I'd like a taste. You don't want to talk to anyone very much after doing that, and 'ugh,' she understands completely. One of the guys I work with gets through the night with protein shakes and a steady stream of nibbles, sometimes onion tarts and escargot, eating them unhurriedly back by the bread cutting board in the middle of service. I've never given myself much a permission to do that, but there has to be a better way to do it, and the kid, who's studied kinesiology seems to have a scientifically based approach.
After tending bar five straight nights, I suppose the effects would be like that of hearing so many bird calls and sounds. There'd been a lot of cawing, a lot of chirps and songs. And my response was to get out the guitar and play some of the songs I knew. That somehow seemed like the right way to absorb all I'd heard, all the different personalities, shapes, faces, voices, walks of life, social and dining habits. I'd absorbed a certain amount, and it needed to come out.
I found the music I liked to have a shaman power to it, having its appeal to the raw blood coursing through the body like adrenaline, much like the effect The Beatles had when they came to America. And music with an ancient quality to it, rhythms one could sink his teeth into.
Some of us think like shaman, myself, a type O, for instance, and some people, type B, look upon what I'd naturally as an embarrassment. How does the O fit in comfortably with society that doesn't agree with his system very well? Self-embarrasssment? Isn't that what writers do? Think of Vonnegut, his breath smelling like mustard gas after boozing a bit calling his old war buddies late at night in Slaughtehouse Five.
In a way, I liked the job. I was well-suited for it, hospitality. And where I'd never fit in, for not being, oh, a decisive forceful type with a goal to impose, but rather instead a passive type, there it was, my job, of all things. I was a bartender. I liked talking to people, I liked helping them out. I was good at it, a performer, conversational, outdoing myself in ways that felt easy, providing good friendly service to random visitors. In that context, I liked wine, to an extent; like Jefferson, it seemed a necessity. I like people who also like wine. I like the conversations that come with wine, with the need for an exercise of humor. I liked hanging out. I liked restaurant people, I liked, at least almost liked, having my own rhythm, not that of the typical commute. I liked being a professional of the night, and took pride in it. Things can stressful, besides, and you need wine, and it is there for a good Godly reason.
The job was a good fit for the Celt, for the Type O in need of adrenaline's fire and the busy night. Often hard to accept, on a mental level, what I did for work, the hours, the pay, the oddness of it, for one who was once a college boy with ambitious of writing and teaching, but it was a good forum, for me, for lots of people. A shared venue. I wasn't selfish about it. One's own little version of Charlie Rose. The subject, life in general. Mortality. Talk itself.
And on the other hand, recovering from the week, I thought how it was all an incredible show, a shy interior person putting on a pose. Such by the end of the week, I kept to myself, the shyness back in large amount, the mind not sure what to think of anything, the mood depressed. I had a real palpable need to get back to yoga to straighten out the pains mental and physical, for the quiet of recovery. It was as if here was something I wanted to be doing, and I couldn't put my finger on it. And it seemed like I had piled so much crap on top of that which I wanted to be doing, and for so many years. But for such feelings, there was yoga and meditation.
Thanksgiving Day I woke up early after my shift, to drive up to see Mom. There are several points on Route 81 in the Pennsylvania land of ridges, curves and climbs where NPR is lost, where religious programming is the offering of the lower end of the FM dial. Where once a young man might have sort of sneered at is kitsch, or even dangerous to the mind, now I found it helpful. The reasons of why to have faith, how to have it, the importance of keeping it, have grown clearer over the years. Things to be grateful for, a good lesson.
Finding happiness with the simple things in life became clearer. It was good to have a job, health insurance, a place to live, good friends. The beauty in plain simple things suddenly seemed to offer itself up, even if I still was feeling stressed a bit, unclear as to the future.
And feeling grateful for what you have, just so as it is, that is something enormous.
But then, there's also that feeling of greatly missing something, of being on a completely different planet than that occupied by professional and practical people. Shane MacGowan is to me, sometimes, a sane man, because he went crazy. He created a persona as a way of hiding his sensitivity but also giving it a vehicle. For some of us, yes, to be whatever kind of an artist you can be as you go about functioning in the world, that's one way to do it.
I see life more and more determined by blood chemistry. The underlying difficulty of the excitable fight or flight response Type O human being, a shaman hunter, self-reliant, put into a world where one gets titles through a system of authority. Thus did Hemingway write, acknowledging a direct need for words, to be directly engaged in them. Which is different from the scholarly mode.
In the course of my life as an idiot, it seems I was too passive. Too thoughtful. Prone to confusion. I did not take what was offered, rightfully mine, out of a moral sense of proper conduct and my love for an awesome girl. I was too shy. I did not step up at the right time. I was too much a seeker of the order and meaning of the universe when it was right there before me. I failed to act at crucial moments, over and over again. Or was it that I had something ingrained within, physically, that was dictating things a bit. Did it have something to do with the real but unmet unaddressed need for the spirituality of yoga, which in turn would be a better gateway toward beliefs, just as one might suspect that Jesus was a yogi in practice, thus his ability to put things into words.
There are the rough drafts, left lingering, to be recorded, I suppose, but then transcended, moved on from, to be understood by a place beyond normal understandings.
There I am sitting on the carpeted floor of the music auditorium during the last class of the anthropology class Deviancy, and she is seated up the same row, mid way up, conspicuous. And what did I do? How easy it would have been to go sit next to her. What a nice way it would have been to smooth over the little differences that had grown up large in the back and forth of courting. And how much it would cost me, that passivity... And it was Christmastime. I was a senior, she was a sophomore. One more golden opportunity, missed.
From there things seemed to fall apart somewhat. I kept losing units of self-confidence and assuredness. I kept losing the push to follow through with that bright friendly kid who came to college and how he could be a teacher. And instead of that path, it seemed like I just got crazier, fancying myself as the writer, coming to town, temping, busing tables...
And every morning, I'd wake up to the thoughts of how I messed it up with her, replaying in them in my mind, and each time the same frustrated end. Sort of like feeling gaslighted, as in the old movie with Ingrid Bergman. O adrenal system.
When I slept enough that I fell into dream, then I could deal with it. Then I wasn't so much haunted by all my foolishness, the countless social errors I made with regard to college in general.
I returned to yoga.