Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Insatiable Monkey Mind

Today tastes like chai and hot chocolate, graham crackers and cardamom.

Lately, it seems that my sig line should be that Lovecraft quote about "the greatest kindness of the universe is the inability of the human mind to correlate its contents."

I’m grumpy at having to get up in the dark, do yoga in the cold, leave at sunrise and return at sunset. Lack of heat and light leaves me scattered and groping. And it’s only going to get worse until late December. Bah! In a civilized society, I’d be able to come to work early (the sun comes up at 5:00 in the morning, here in AZ; my eyelids poink! right open at 5:01 a.m. Even on a Saturday, when I’ve been out painting the town fuschia.) And in summer, I’d leave late, after some of the heat dissipated—say, around 8:00 p.m.

In exchange, during the winter months, I’d drag my leaden limbs through the door around 10:00 a.m., and leave at the reasonable hour of 3:00 p.m. Ah, but no. That is Not the Way the World Works. Or at least, not my world, not right now.

This has been an interesting year—a year of doing things I actively said I would never do. I’d never take up yoga. Freezing in position makes my joints hurt. I’m not flexible enough. I have the tightest hips in Christendom. Never never never . . . say never. You only tempt the gods.

And, of course, when I take something up, I don’t do it by halves. When I learned to knit, I learned on a baby sweater. (Yes, I had a fantastic teacher. I was also lucky enough to be the only one who signed up for the class, so it was a one-on-one experience. ) So by the time I was through the class, I had the basics down and could follow a pattern knit flat in pieces. I knit myself a sweater, teaching myself about cables and fixing errors in cables as I went. At one point, I dropped 12 stitches down six rows to correct some mis-twisting, and then laddered them back up to the body. I can only plead that I didn’t know that was an advanced move, I only knew that I didn’t want to rip more than I had to.

My next project was socks, because I had fallen in love with lace . . . but you see how it goes.

And it’s no different with the old yoga than with “the new yoga.” I get interested, then went to the library and pulled every book on the shelf I could find. I was just interested in hatha yoga, the stuff with all the poses, done for fitness/flexibility. (The first taste is free . . . )

So just recently I was back in the library, feeding the insatiable monkey (AKA the 900-pound baboon). One of the books I picked up was Rodney Yee's _Poetry of the Body_.

Yee is a big name yoga teacher, and what I found refreshing about the essays were his comments on beginning and doing yoga. It goes along with a recent conversation about different bodies and different abilities with the Dowager Empress Odie-Bird. IN an amazing moment of parent-child synchronicity, we took up yoga within a few weeks of each other, with no prior discussion of the subject.

_Poetry of the Body_ is one of Yee’s books. I get the feeling that he’s aiming at the beginner—there’s nothing flaky here regarding meditation, advanced system cleansing, and the poses are arranged in series. I appreciate that very much—I find it easier to learn when there’s some flow to it, when there’s a series of do this, then do that, instead of having to learn about a hundred different poses, then figure out how to arrange them, then . . .

But the part I enjoyed the most is Yee’s essays and interviews with his less-renowned co-author (whose name has slipped my feeble mind.) It’s refreshing to hear someone who makes what appears to be a very nice living talk about his experience as a beginner in the field he now works in. It feels good to have a yoga teacher explaining that no, actually, he left ballet because he was so inflexible, and now he does yoga because he’s still naturally tight.

And to read it now, while I'm feeling like toffee that has cooled (when it was warm, I flowed in ribbons and mounds of satiny shiny smoothness. Now that it's cold, I'm brittle. I flex a tiny bit, then snap.)--well, it makes me feel better and encourages me to just be with it now. Not to worry about what was a few months ago, how it will be when summer returns, just to take deep breaths and do what works for me right now.

Additionally, Yee has another book worth a flip through _8 Weeks of Yoga With Rodney Yee_. It has routines laid out like the book I am leaning on, and I snitched his restorative routine. I do some poses from that on the mornings when "my bed is warm, my pillow deep" and it's hard to drag myself to the mat. I set a timer, so if I drift off, something will bring me back in time for shower and breakfast, and then settle in. Ahhhhhh, it's like 2 hours of sleep in fifteen minutes.

I plan to obtain materials to build some props because I can't see spending the kind of money supply shops want for bolsters. I priced the materials out, because we all know that fallacy of being able to make it cheaper than you can buy it. It looks like the cotton batts will be the pricy part. Polar fleece (which is what I'd want to cover the things with [ohh so soft and cushiony]) and plain weave for the pillow forms is cheap, especially this time of year.

Anyway, build some props and then establish that Fridays when I get home, I do a full restorative routine to pinch off the workweek and get ready for the weekend. Right now, it seems like I finally get relaxed and weekendish, then look at the clock . . . and it's 7 p.m. On Sunday. Ahhhhrrrrrgh!

I also said I’d never start blogging. I have multiple physical journals, and also do a little bookbinding, so have enough blank books to keep me going forever. I had started a couple of private, eyes-only web logs to get the really vituperative junk out of my head and off where it wouldn’t have repercussions. So why would I want a public diary?

But then, as a constant knitter, I would get asked by friends whom I see monthly if I ever finished anything. I knit primarily for charity—Project Linus in particular. Blankets are good easy social knitting, especially in garter stitch. But since I was knitting to give away, no-one ever saw the fruits of my labors. And I don’t have much use for sweaters in the low desert. That which is not seen is not, after all.

That, and I’m prone to startitis. (“Hi, I’m Spike, and I’m a startaholic.” “Hi, Spike.” “I’ve begun four sweaters, a yoga mat bag, two pairs of socks and three blankets in the last week . . . I’m running out of needles.”) So it seemed to me that beginning a diary of projects would let me tell people who asked where to look to find pictures of what I’d done, as well as keeping me honest about the progress (or, ahem, lack thereof) in my knitting.

Then a group of pixel pals (who uses pens any more, I ask you) from an e-mail list all began blogging, and reading through the little bitty ring that was formed to let all the members find and read their virtual (and in some cases, meat) friends’ words of wisdom and look at the projects being chatted about on the list finally inspired me to get going on my own. And now that I’ve been here a couple of months, I’m really pleased with the side benefits.

It’s easier to write. I ran across a comment in my trolling the web, where the person writing the commentary put forth the idea that there are four types of writers—prolific facile; prolific agonized; scanty facile; and scanty agonized. I belong firmly to the agonized school of writing, which is why my first drafts are so clean—I’ve gone back and revised even as I type the sentence out. (By the time you see these words, I’ve already gone over and revised it at least twice.)

But now I have to face the blank screen three times a week (yes, it’s a self-imposed schedule. Aren’t they all, to some extent?) and bang out something I’d want to read regarding where I’m at in this uber-project we call life. And sometimes I score a big one and hit the mark on what I’d want to say, with authenticity and flair. And other times, well, what’s floating in the punch bowl is not a Baby Ruth bar.

On top of that, in order to get what I want insofar as the visuals on this site, I’m having to learn to navigate my way around photoediting programs, learn some baby code, figure out where stuff gets stashed when these programs do what they do . . . and I can see a lot more ahead.

At least I’m enjoying the journey.

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