Friday, February 24

gratitudes and inclusions

Hold on, buckle in. This is messier than I intended. But I’m going for it. See you on the other side…


I’m excited to see what occupy has planned for the spring. If you aren’t following, it might be easy to think that, after the gong show in Oakland, it’s all over. It isn’t. They’re still planning and preparing, especially in NYC. But there’s still activity all over NA too. Communication lines have been established and, gloriously, it’s just not going to go away. 

As/more relevant, the movements that spawned Occupy, that started waking us tardy First Worlders up, are thriving, fighting, chanting, mobilizing all over the world. We’re playing catch-up, to be clear.

But I was listening to this Mathew Good song and it got me thinking about the one thing I think OWS really has wrong. It’s like sand in my shoe, or a log in my eye. It’s the primary meme of the PR wing – the 99% thing. I mean, I get it, and it’s damned catchy, but it’s wrong. Class warfare, even if it’s only “othering” 1% (or less… the problems are really concentrated to, like, 0.01%, those 400 uber-rich – in the US, for example – that own as much or so as the rest of the country combined), is still encouraging an us vs. them approach. Us vs. them will get us back here eventually, no matter how well it works right now. There are no short-cuts.


Last Saturday, after we buried Lylune, I graded for my fourth kyu in Ki-Aikido. I passed. This is akin to passing grade four or something, so it’s not like I know anything, but I’m slowly getting to a point where I’ll be able to judge just how much I don’t know. And I’m learning to move with something that aspires to be grace. Between yoga and Ki-Aikido, I might not be a stiff oaf one day.

Here’s the thing about learning – the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know much. It’s one of the best parts, the slow understanding, the anticipation of learning enough to understand, even if the amount you don’t know would fill a thousand cups the size of what you do know.

At our tea break, after grading and before the class part began, I had the profound honor of passing on my yellow belt to Sam, my friend from Ki-Aikido, who graded with me. I was totally psyched to be able to be his partner for his grading. There was concern that my rib might prevent me, but the healing has gone better than I might have imagined, by far.

So Saturday was a wild day, from the extremes of waking to the enormous absence of Lylune, through her burial, and then into the grading. It was as exhausting a day as I can remember, so much of it strangely affirming in such different ways.


Also, I finally figured out why it is that I’m not a big goal setter. I mean, I’ve talked about this, my block with goal setting and lists and stuff, and it finally makes sense. I was sitting with Gena, having tea and eating pineapple and talking about everything, and it hit me:

I’m a goalie; every cell of my body is encrypted with the desire, urge, and compulsion to prevent goals. So, you know, I figure I come by it naturally. That’s my excuse. This is me, sticking to it.


In yoga last night the instructor, Julie, who is amazing, moved us into cow face pose, otherwise known as Gomukhasana. This made me chuckle. It was the only appropriate response.

I’ve talked about my accident before, with the T-boning of car into me on my motorcycle; of the four years of rehab and eleven operations; of the multiple breaks and the massive amount of titanium and stainless steel screwed into my left thigh and hip. As a reminder, so you don’t have to go read anything else, here’s a picture of my hip x-ray post-last surgery. The accident was eighteen and a half years ago, so this pic is from around fifteen years ago.

my hip, circa 1996

Cow face is about as possible for me at this juncture as a moon walk. I remain optimistic, focused, and working on it, but the reality is, I just don’t freakin' bend that way, man!

I usually don’t regret much about the accident. I mean, there’s a body symmetry sub-program in my brain that goes off once and a while, and every time I get scored on low glove side because I don’t have the length or flexibility to reach, but mostly I see it as a good thing. It sent me back to school, literally and figuratively, and made me rethink everything.

So I generally avoid feeling frustrated. I just laugh instead; an inside joke for just me. Julie, aware of my challenges, provides a suitable modification and I do what I can with the dedicated intention of overcoming the scar tissue and stiff muscles and mechanical weirdness so that I can actually do the pose one day. And I will, even if it’s a basic version of it, dammit, I will.

But I’m digressing. Well, not really, but sort of.

Here’s what I wanted to get to: When we are in a pose that challenges us (and they are all challenging to me, to be clear), we’re told to breathe into the parts that require the most support, to be appreciative. So there I was, doing a grossly modified half cow face, appreciating my hips. I did some anthropomorphized thanking, first the right hip for taking on the extra duty to make up for the left’s weakness, and then the left hip for surviving and not giving up. And then, in a mini-epiphany, I realized I wasn’t talking to my hips. Not really.

I was talking to me, thankful for the ways I’ve compensated, not given up, survived, and found ways to keep experiencing life on my terms, regardless. Eighteen years ago the doctors told me that, by this time, I’d probably be hobbled, on a list waiting for hip replacement surgery. Not playing hockey, not practicing yoga and Ki-Aikido, not climbing. I’m not sure how or why momentum continued forward instead of getting caught in some backwater or eddy, but I’m grateful.

That moment, in yoga last night, felt good. Small, and yet really big. Sometimes we need to pat ourselves on the back. Actually, more than sometimes. We just have to stay grounded while we do it, and avoid dislocating shoulders in our over-enthusiasm.


This was going to be an intentionally short, disjointed, hop-scotch of a post. Now look what I’ve gone and done, all rambly and shit. Sorry. Well, not really. I could have held something back, I suppose. Saved it for another day.

No, no, I could not have. Whatever it is, is. Saving would have felt dishonest, I think. Like hedging. I hate hedging, even when I do it. Giving whatever there is to give, warts, yawns, and all, feels crucial these days. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, right? Make hay while you do the carpe diem.


If you’re still hanging around, you deserve a treat. I offer two:

1. Sugar has a new post up. Announcing to the world that she’s actually Cheryl Strayed on Valentine’s Day hasn’t dulled her insights. At. All. This, spoken to a self-hating and self-ostracized stutterer,

You are not outside of us, even if it feels to you like you are,”

 is purely magical. You should go read it.

b. Music. Back on the OWS meme, here’s the Matthew Good song (a line in the song, really) that got me thinking about the shortcomings of the 99% tag line. (This version, as an aside, was recorded in my current neck of the words a few years ago when he was doing an acoustic tour. I was not present. I was still in Edmonton, pre-life inversion. But I was getting close to pulling the trigger. For those who just have to know what all the words are, here are the lyrics.) 

I guess I'd say, to us that occupy and those that don't and those that can't see us from their top floor CEO offices, we are all in this together. 99% of us is failure. When we understand that, maybe then we'll really be getting somewhere.

Have a marvelous weekend, folks.