life

On yoga, effort, and life

Working with yoga is often interesting. You stretch and twist and focus, trying to be very conscious and aware of your movements, and then one day in the middle of a twisting pose you see your left foot coming out from behind your right ear. At first that’s a real surprise, a shock. You think, “Well, that can’t be my foot over there”, and then you realize it is your foot, and with that comes a strong sense of accomplishment, and maybe a little smile.

Then you do the same pose in the opposition direction, but twist and stretch as you might, your right foot doesn’t come out from behind your left ear. You know you can’t push it any more, at least not while doing the pose properly, so you realize you have a little imbalance. You accept that you have some work to do, but it’s a good thing, so you push on.

I think life is like that too, or can be like that. If you enjoy the struggle, if it’s a worthy struggle — a path with heart — the effort comes willingly, and with its own rewards.
 

Namaste

Lyrics from the Genesis song Undertow

Lyrics from the Genesis song Undertow, which just came across my random playlist:

Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you,
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees.

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again, against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the dangers past, I need not fear the icy blast again.

Happiness in the midst of the muck

One thing that’s changed for me in the last year is that I’ve become a little less interested in what spiritual leaders have to say, and more interested in what spiritual laymen have to say. Don’t get me wrong, leaders are great in many ways, but they don’t have bills to pay, and don’t have spouses or children. I’m far more interested in what a spiritual person has to say when they’re in the midst of struggling to pay their bills, and they have jobs, spouses, children, and neighbors.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a headline about Charlie Munger giving advice on how to be happy. I’ve read a lot of Charlie Munger quotes and he seems like a very nice person, but he’s been a billionaire for decades, and that skews your thinking. Based on my own experience, when you have a lot of money and you don’t have to worry about your health, paying your bills, noisy neighbors, or family problems, life is easy, so your advice is tainted. These days I’ll take “advice on happiness” from someone who is truly happy while living in the midst of the muck. In retrospect, this feeling is one thing that drew me to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning when I was still a teenager.

Steve Jobs: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon”

In terms of being a nice person, Steve Jobs may have been the worst Buddhist in the history of the world, but he captures the Zen/Buddhist essence in this quote:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Photo from forbes.com, words from Steve Jobs.

Book/story idea: Life is a game where you have to find your soulmate

New book/story idea: Life is a bit of a game, and as a result you’re put in the vicinity of your soulmate. Not right next door per se, but somewhere within your range of life such that you will encounter this person, such as the friend of a friend, someone you work with, a person you run into at a store, etc. So the game is, out of all the people you meet as your life unfolds, can you identify your soulmate? And maybe as a secondary plot, how do you handle it if you get get close but make a mistake ... say you marry a person which creates circumstances that put you in the vicinity of your soulmate, and you later realize your mistake?