Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture
Yesterday marked the 105th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Fittingly, we were shaken by a wee temblor around 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
I was midway through a sweaty yoga class and missed the shaking completely, caught up in my own efforts at balance in a wobbly Natarajasana. The 3.7 quake was a trenchant reminder, though, of how quickly life can change, in an instant. We're living on borrowed time here in the Bay Area, to be sure; the recent catastrophes in Japan are a sobering reminder of that.
The quake anniversary brought to mind this stream-of-consciousness piece -- one of my favorites, more bleak, more resigned than some -- which I'd written three years ago, sitting on the wooden floor of my old Edwardian on Sacramento St., shredding through dusty files on that warm April day. Beyond the purple hair and the Norwegian pop singers and the frozen lasagna, I'm fond of this piece for its raw honesty, yes, and for its resigned clarity of vision, and for its understanding of the inevitability of impermanence and uncertainty, that awareness that all things -- youth, beauty, love, careers, bodies, passions -- arise, suffer change, and fade away.
In days past, and in teaching lately, especially, I've found myself instinctively drawn to the Hindu symbolism that is Shiva: Shiva who represents change and destruction, that continual process of churning and turning, shedding old skins and taking on new ones, that unending cycle of dissolution, creation, preservation and dissolution all over again; and I can't help but see Shiva not only in this little piece of writing, but in the greater awareness of the inevitability of change in the form of natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes and the like, and the certainty of impending death. There is a strange, eerie kind of calm, a willing grace, that comes from knowing, and sitting with, and ceasing to resist, this reality that all things, including our selves, will come to an end. We're so much more apt to be present in this flash of a moment, knowing that it will not be forever.
Reverie on a Shredder -- April 17, 2008
While we're talking about being present, and really coming into that question of how to show up for our lives, how to enter into them, let me point you to this fantastic teaching video from Michael Stone. I sat up late last night working, watching this, nodding my head, finding so much simple truth in these teachings. It's worth every second of the 14 minutes. Sit down, cross your legs in Sukhasana, set your phone aside, and just let yourself surrender to the listening. Pay attention. Be there. And begin to think about how to enter your life, and your practice, as one.