This is day 7 of 30.
Almost midnight. Big Friday night. I know it’s lazy, but fuck it. I love this piece.
They say there’s beauty in chaos.
When some people look at a Jackson Pollock work, they see pandemonium. It might seem like a turbulent, splattered mess of paint. It might even throw off your equilibrium.
Just think what a great ad it would make for a yoga studio:
“Two Weeks Of Unlimited Yoga! Come Untangle Your Hideous Guts For Only $25!”
I find it weirdly comforting, this abstract expression of mental instability, overwhelming fear, sadness and alcoholism (all of which I’ve experienced). It’s a dance with the devil, a sexy mess of paint and emotions and pain (also been there, without the paint). It’s mass hysteria.
For me, it’s more honest than a photo of a hot yoga chick posing on a desert rock while the wind is kicking up layers of bedazzled chiffon. Those photos are gorgeous, but I just can’t relate… I’m pretty much never in Visvamitrasana (Flying Warrior) in a pasture, with a majestic sky behind me. At sunrise. Hair flowing, like a river.
It just ain’t that pretty sometimes.
The power of yoga can be intense, like a nervous breakdown. It comes in like a lion, roaring it’s head off, resistant, over-caffeinated and on the war path toward some Advil and an epsom salt bath after too many Chaturangas.
It’s more than bending down and touching your toes. It’s better than sleeping in on a rainy day, or finding a $20 in your pocket you didn’t know was there. And it rules the school, like a Pink Lady.
It’s cunning, in a good way. It’ll break your neuroses down, kick ’em around like a hacky sack and it’ll build you back up. In that vulnerable space in between, that’s when it really starts to get interesting.
At first, you’re thinking: what is going on here? I thought yoga was supposed to be funner. Can’t I just get high?
Before long: this sucks! where did I go wrong in life?
And right before the breakthrough: Fuck! I hate doing stuff that’s good for me! How late is that hot dog truck outside open?
But there’s a method to the madness. After a life of always being on the outside looking in, I can tell you that before long, something starts to shift.
It can be subtle. Picture yourself on your mat, breathing and sweating your ass off. By the time you’re in Pigeon Pose, you’re bowing down toward something you really don’t understand, but you know it’s there, inside, and all around. In a place between heaven and earth, there’s a sweet ocean of liquid light moving with you.
You close your eyes. Beckoned by the moon, that ocean tide rises and falls and tangos with the watery gods. And yoga goes out like a lamb.
It’s not just paint drippings, now is it? Just like the pose isn’t just a pose.
Ask anyone who’s taken a Rorschack test, or has been in a deep conversation with my two best friends, who both have psychology degrees. And by the way, in 2006, Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 sold for $140,000,000. Count the zeros. That’s makes it the most expensive painting in the world.
There are those awful parts inside all of us that are probably much better off buried in an unknown grave, where those fuckers belong. Sometimes it’s just too scary and confrontational to deal with. Cry over it, shake your fist in the air, have a good old-fashioned temper tantrum. And above all, embrace it. There’s nothing to be afraid of, really.
I always remember the words of my teacher: practice no matter what.
Today in class, when were in Urdhva Dhanaurasana, the big daddy of all heart openers. I came down, and put my hand on the silver bone-shaped dog tag that hangs around my neck, the one engraved on one side with the name Shamus and a phone number on the other. My boxer dog was wearing it a week ago while he was being put to sleep.
In that moment, I felt the shift.
It’s almost New Year’s. There’s a spectacular view from that precarious perch where you can let yourself fall apart, and ultimately find yourself. Let go of regret. There’s real, unshakable love out there. Get down and get dirty. Have breakfast for dinner. Go crazy, run through the sprinklers and be willing to make mistakes, tons of them.
This is your life, and no one can deny what you already know: it’s all going to be OK.