Thursday, September 30, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Whenever a Horse Stumbles)

"To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness; let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. At every instant, let us evoke it in our imagination under all its aspects. Whenever a horse stumbles, a tile falls, or a pin pricks however slightly, let us at once chew over this thought: 'Supposing that was death itself?' With that, let us brace ourselves and make an effort. 

"We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave. Knowing how to die gives us freedom from subjection and constraint. Life has no evil for him who has thoroughly understood that loss of life is not an evil.

"Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them. 

"If you have lived one day, you have seen everything. One day equals all days. There is no other light, no other night." - Michel de Montaigne 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Taut Strings of the Soul)

Don't leave a book of Eric Hoffer's aphorisms on my coffee table! 

So, your thing, your little sting, to ponder is: what are you blaming on something other than insufficient application?

"Man's thoughts and imaginings are the music drawn from the taut strings of the soul. The stretching of the soul that produces music is the result of the pull of opposites - opposite bents, attachments, and yearnings. Where there is no polarity - where energies flow smoothly in one direction - there can be hustle and noise but no music. 

"They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or of ability, or of misfortune, rather than insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. 

"Thus, talent is a species of vigor."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Little Inner Catastrophes)

"When this happens, the shock sometimes brings on intense panic, fear of the void, anxiety about something more powerful than anything we have ever known. We sense the immense power of deconstruction..., and this is very frightening. We sense that the system we have forged for ourselves in order to survive is being completely upset, turned inside out, by an unknown force that is coming from the most inner part of ourselves. In these moments, a desire to retreat occurs; a wish to run away chokes us, because we feel this is irreversible. A tidal wave sweeps through our body. It is going to clean away all our established automatisms, all our fabrications. As soon as what is fabricated starts to crumble... Everything that is rigid in our system is volatilized. 

"The great trap will be the temptation to reconstruct another defense system. And to do so, we will use the teaching we have received. We will take the part that suits us, and with this part, we will reconstruct some certainty. This is the most delicate moment..., because right then when we are completely open, we are overcome by the tidal wave of anxiety, and almost immediately, we reconstruct some certainty. We will do this so well that we have the impression that our reconstruction is compatible with space. 

"It is, therefore, a process that unfolds in several stages. There is the first process of opening; then, an imperial need for certainty and a reoccupation of space where we can store mental objects. Soon, there will be no more room. 

"Then, little by little, with all our being we will understand the splendor of remaining completely outside of all systems that are built upon certainties. And when the certainties try to come back - because they always come back - we will perhaps be able to look at them with a certain irony, a certain tenderness even, noticing that they no longer work very well. Then starts the most joyous part..., because we see all these conceptual pieces of old junk, with which we have worked so long, make a desperate attempt to hang onto and then slide pathetically down the wall of the Self. There is intense happiness in participating in all these little inner catastrophes."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Bit Vague and Inscrutable

"I don't know that I have ever encountered a group of more certain-minded people than horsepeople. 'Horses like that'; 'oh he doesn't mind'; 'they can't do this.' Really? I would ask. How do you know? And I would be met with annoyed stares for an answer. Every group of horsepeople knows better than every other, too: the Saddlebred crowd looks with disdain on the rodeo, with its bucking straps and electric prods, its broken backs and broken legs; the hunter-jumper aficionados cringe at the barbarities of the high-stepping Saddlebreds and the methods of soring the feet that often get them that way; the rodeo folk spit in the sand at the knowledge that jumpers are being dosed with cocaine and ridden with shards of plastic in their splint boots; the practitioners of dressage assess everyone from the lofty height of history's oldest school of equestrianism, while everyone else looks back with disbelief that forcing a horse into a frame with too-tight side reins is truly time honorable, or honorable at all.

"I didn't want to stop being with horses, but if the only terms on which I could do so gave me bad dreams, then I didn't know how much longer I could go on kicking the crap out of an aged pony or trotting in circles to perfect my own balance while caring nothing about what the exercise did for the silent one beneath me." - Melissa Holbrook Pierson

"The effort to understand from all angles is the abandonment of limits, the letting go of the body-mind. Then the great fluctuation is established, we hear ourselves, and we come back toward our center without ever leaving the original source. Every point of the movement then becomes immensity itself, and the wave of the Real does not find its fall dizzying, nor its ascension fleeting as it breaks into silver foam in the space of the sky." - Daniel Odier

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fingers In the Sores

It's very lonely, lovely, strange, and normal. I guess the first and the third are what keep people away - maybe the second and fourth do as well. Of course we know that lonely and strange hurt a little. But lovely also burns, in its way, and normal sometimes feels empty. Yet emptiness - really emptiness - is no less than divine.

Artifice drops away without my trying to make it do so, without my caring if it does or not. I watch these things I so long held dear - my beloved manacles that I could not feel - drift away, and it is effortless and painful at once. I dig my fingers into the sores. I swim crazily, just letting the tide toss me. 

Freedom is not easy. It is vast and all yours if you truly want it. A warning.

The loneliness hurts, sometimes. Hurts like it's supposed to - same as you lean into that deep cooking in sore muscles, same as you don't just let yourself collapse, same as taking one more breath. Hurts like illness purging out, like a wound draining. And it's not loneliness like, "No one loves me; I have no friends; wish I was DOING something right now; etc." It's the loneliness of having nowhere to hide anymore, and the parts of yourself that are still raw and unused to being exposed crying to retreat. It's also the loneliness of being very aware of everyone else's loneliness, feeling it like it's yours. It's the loneliness of learning that, in some ways, you are very much isolated and on your own. 

I can never turn around, only forward and wherever the wind says, really. And I am grateful.

Everything methodically collapses. 

This is happiness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Too Pretty Too Sad Too Silly)

People possess this odd ability to give me books that I never would have purchased myself, and the books end up being exactly what I needed or something I really love - which is, I guess, kind of the same. 

This passage comes from Alice Hoffman's Green Angel, which my mother bought for me during a low period of my life; the book ended up feeling strangely autobiographical.

However, this brief offering should ring for any reader. 

"When I went to my neighbor's to take her fresh water and fish I had caught with my net, I asked if she thought I seemed the same, the girl with ink on her skin.

"The old woman didn't say a word. Instead, she led me to the staircase, where there were the ashy portraits I'd cleaned. Now my neighbor told me to try to guess which one she was. I studied the portraits carefully, but I had no idea which she might be. They looked familiar, but one was too pretty, one was too sad, one was too silly to be my neighbor.

"Guess, my neighbor insisted. Go on. Which one do you think I am?

"Still, I could not tell.

"Look closely, she said, but even when I did, I had no idea. 

"At last I gave up. Who are you? I asked. 

"Each and every one, my neighbor told me. She shook her head as though I were a child rather than a girl about to turn sixteen. Did you think nothing ever changed?"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

As the Dish Outside the Window Fills with Rain

I spent a rather nostalgic weekend in a house that became my home away from home for a short period; this song, for no particular reason, remained stuck in my head the whole time. It really holds no relevance other than the fact that it remained stuck in my head - and yet it does, as the line, "It's time, time, time that you love" is a fitting addendum to my previous entry. I guess the song itself is the addendum. 

It's time that I loved. Nothing more.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Broken Chunks

Even now, it hurts. For those of us who speak the secret language, the details stab a wound we can’t explain. Blood bay with broken stripe. Fifteen hands high.
It stabs my heart, even now. The words that proudly flow from me into the online classified ad – desperately opening with the line “FREE to the right person” – provide a mystical and unwanted return to a time I wish I could forget. But it seems that time and experience of a certain kind just lodges itself in one’s bones and knits itself inextricably into the framework. The weather of late exacerbates the problem.
Have you ever instantly returned?
The chill coming down the October air lifts and magnifies the fully animal, very autumnal-in-itself smell of the horse’s sweat – the lighter notes of clean and worn out leather drift over the top. Myself, a small afterthought of a girl astride, simply nowhere but so deep in now that it feels almost elsewhere as I count silently, the strides disappearing to the foot of the fence. Three, two, one…four, three, two, one…one…one…
The horses hold their breath when airborne. Just like you. Time dissipates in the air.
So, what? Is it, then, the ultimate experience? Because even as I type these words I question what makes me so sure that I’ve been wrong for the last sixteen years. Perhaps I’m wrong now? Did I go wrong in making too much philosophy of it, of over-thinking what the life of a horseman is?
Or am I right, now? Am I right in my sudden break down-and-through of seeing the last sixteen years with fresh eyes? Has the slow yet steady unraveling of the last sixteen years been true?
Perhaps I am trying too hard, even now, in my efforts to efficiently come to one end or the other. And I hate to anthropomorphize, but maybe my heart is not the only one rattling broken chunks inside my chest.
What do my tears mean? I am either making a mistake, or this is just the last cramp in my metaphorical legs as I move onward and upward.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sometimes I Want to Title Everything [ ]

In case anyone wants to snigger about this not being poetry...I wasn't writing it as poetry. I just wrote it. I am also not saying something vague and airy like, "Poetry is anything you want it to be..." Like, I really just wrote it and don't care much what you find in it. 

Do not create 
Arises when 
Affecting it. 
Pure beauty is already there.
We block it with effort. 
And you will dance. 
All is here. 
Get out of the way, 
And the way is here. 
There is
No effort, no work that will ever
Illuminate it. 
The work is to let it 
And let the fire catch. 
There is no
Holy beyond

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (A Complex Integration)

Allow me to beat a dead horse: don't make assumptions about what I do and what I am.

"I'm very sure that future of yoga will be safe and solid because of all the yoginis." - Sri T.K.V. Desikachar

"As yoginis we must conceive of a new liberation, one that does not seek a simplistic transcendence but rather a complex using yogic techniques that integrate the emotional and physical with the spiritual, women (and men who have the courage to resonate with their own feminine power) can strengthen themselves not only to resist the negativity of these tumultuous times but to positively influence the direction of life on earth." - Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, Ph.D

"The devadasi was revered as a living symbol of the goddess' shakti, or life-giving power." - Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, Ph.D

"When the devadasi danced, she became the embodiment of the divine, intending to transform the space being danced in as well as the audiences' visceral understanding." - Sofia Diaz

"I saw cascades of energy coming which particles were created and destroyed. I saw the atoms of those elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy. I felt its rhythm and heard its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the dance of Shiva." - Fritjof Capra (about sitting on the beach and watching the waves)