Breaking Good

In the yoga pose the Locust, you lie face down, your arms flat on the floor under your body, as you raise first one, then both legs off the floor. It’s a tough posture, particularly the double lift, requiring muscle tension through the legs and abs and great as anything in ballet. But the unexpected thing is how much it hurts your arms. About 2 weeks after I began practicing, I noticed that my right elbow was protesting well and truly every time I did the posture.

Then I remembered: about 20 years ago, I broke it. The posture is breaking the scar tissue a millimeter at a time. No wonder that joint is yelling at me.

That seems to be the way with yoga. As I make obvious gains in the two most screwed-up parts of my body, my neck and back, all the smaller problems that have been hiding behind the big pain have started raising their little voices to say “my turn.” While I admit to some frustration, mostly it’s exhilarating. It’s the pain that athletes and dancers experience as they work to improve, a pain that recognizes that if perfection is to be achieved, if it’s even possible to achieve it, I will get there only in the tiniest increments. And I’m suddenly able to tap into the tremendous freedom of the realization that perfection is not the point. This discovery, a moment at a time, of where and who I am is so much quieter, deeper, truer.

This I can live with.

And of course, all this meditation is helping tremendously with my writing, in which I’m trying to just be present, to let it unfold. Sometimes, sheer technique and good music is all that gets me through it. But then I look at the accumulating pages and think, hey, not bad. Things are coming into focus as if I finally got a pair of glasses at the right prescription after years of squinting. Feels good.

Wanted to give a shout out to my buddy Arthur in New Orleans who wrote this lovely appreciation of Latin poetry. Roam around his blog for great pictures of that city that is very dear to my heart. Any guy who can give props to both Propertius and a Cold War thriller by one Desmond Begley (“… how could I resist a cover like this? An exploding yacht, a frogman, a frightened redhead in a tight bikini?”) in the same post is a kindred spirit indeed.

Less than 4 hours to Breaking Bad season premiere, folks. I recommend we all have our dinners well-digested by then.

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