Friday, January 20, 2006

Muddy windshield 

New Year’s rocked. Made the right decision for that time. Chakrasambhara center, leaving the comfort zone way behind as I parted ways with my friends at nine pm and walked through the wild wind to the yet unknown. Was greeted with warm smiles and folks volunteering their names and ears, and not in a cultish creepy way, either. The evening’s speaker surprised me by being fearless with the L word, and not in a new-agey overtly fuzzy way either, and encouraging us to make up and meditate on resolutions for the new year. Which was startling, as this was the first time I ever toyed with the concept of making some decisions (socialize more) to attempt (soften) and adhere to (hang out with non-yogis more). So I did. Greeted midnight with a smile and a shiver of acceptance. Gratitude. Joy, even.

There’s been days when the smile fades a little faster, recently. Takes a little effort to conjure up, be teased out. Adventures in the world of the service industry. Was sent on my way as I claimed the need for a flexible schedule. If I wanted to wait tables full-time, I would be.

Cut to windy rainy night without an umbrella. Walking to clear my head, feeling not a little sorry for myself- uncertainties, financial restrictions, all that sweeping over. Cane-bearing older man asks "is uptown this way?". Offer to walk him to the subway. In Greek, we would say we held each other "engagee", his arm threaded through my bent elbow, rigid with fears. Slowly walking uptown. He is from Nigeria, went to college in London and moved to New York thirty years ago. Glaucoma. I listen, nod, murmur encouraging noises but offer little about myself. From myself. I am giving all I got, head barely above water. I am listening though: "You have two arms, two legs, you are ok. You are doing ok if ya got that. Everything else mends. A heart? Still beats, even after it gets broken, keeps on beating." Walk him down the steps to the subway, bid him farewell, accept his thanks. It is I who felt grateful for the encounter. The rain is softer on my flushed cheeks as I walk home.

The whole point of this exercise is to maintain some fluidity to my schedule. Make it so I can take off and spend time at the shala. Teach and learn at my beloved ashram. If I am busting my ass not making money, I might as well sit on it at an office. Although I still have doubts that fluorescent lighting doesn’t kill spirit, like booze kills brain cells, a little at a time.

Went to an “open call” for service staff at the Maritime Hotel in the woefully trendy Meatpacking District. Every other booth in the place was filled with model-actor types scribbling away at endless questionnaires—“… how will you bring value to our establishment? … three adjectives to describe yourself…”. If I wanted to compete with all the out of work actors in the City, I would.

Kind, thoughtful, restrained.

Can I just say how very-very grateful I am that I have friends and people I know who share my concerns and lifestyle? How comforting it is that just today I had talks with several people I really care about who are in very similar situations? How it makes it all, somehow, ok, that we are in this together, this endeavor, this place, city, this life, this practice?

Realizing how very-very spoiled I’ve been, last few years, when the universe spoke to me so clearly, leading me on a path unfettered by most fears, where clarity of purpose and steadfastness of vision ruled the days and quieted doubts. These are wavering a little, these days. If I go for that soul-free temp job in that underlit office, might that diminish my light? I’d have weekends free to up and go.

I’ve said and I’m saying, I’m here for a little while. Have decided to stay here, see if I can maybe build something, build on something. Much scarier than quitting the dayjob and going to Mysore for five months, or spending nearly three months in Greece like I did last year. To just stay. And see. Turn the windshield wipers back on.

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