‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’

IMG_0988

Confession: I’m deathly afraid of the water. This was instilled by a near-drowning incident in a pool as a young child. It was made worse by being poked with the handle of a pool cleaning net by my college swimming instructor as I stood frozen at the end of the diving board after being told to jump. (I obviously survived by treading, and that was his point. But he’s still an asshole, so I dropped the class, which I took precisely because I wanted to conquer my fear.)

Fast-forward to the present and I’m out here, surfing. Swimming lessons and years of exposure to the sea haven’t eliminated or minimized the fear. I realized it will always be there.What I needed to do was manage it. The beauty of surfing is, I’m going straight toward the very things that scare me, the waves, in order to wait for a bigger one that I can ride. Sometimes the fear can be overwhelming so I have to stop and get my bearings. Then, I go out there again. There’s no better metaphor for life than that. And, when you’re up and standing, there’s no thought about impressing anyone, looking pretty, being smart, earning money… It’s just you, your board and the wave that carries you. It’s pure bliss.

Another thing I discovered about surfing is I don’t suck at it… that much. Which could mean I probably don’t suck at life (that much) either. That thought is my gift to myself.

On the Front Line of a Different War

Hello. It’s been a while, I know. So much has happened since the last entry that an apology is in order for the dearth in updates. So, to the three (or four) people reading this blog, sorry.

What do you know? I took a 200-hour teacher training course at Bliss Yoga Manila and got certified in December.

Image

While I am unable to go into yoga teaching full time, I have been lucky to be teaching at all given my work schedule and newbie status. It has not all been candy and roses in this brave new world I entered but I feel I can touch lives here, be of service somehow. Sometimes, I forget why I took this leap in the first place. I let my ego get the better of me and judge myself harshly for not being who I think I should be. Yoga and teaching became new barometers I used to measure my worth. It was only recently, after an incident that tested my love of the practice and made me doubt my abilities and decisions, that I realized I am here to share a gift and keep doing what I love. That’s all. That’s it. As long as I remember this, I’ll be fine and sort of immune to the baggage that comes with the inevitability of always trying to see your reflection in other people’s eyes.

In an age where humans are exploring outer space with the intention of building a colony somewhere, many of us yearn to go inward. And I tell you, it is the scariest place to be. I look inside myself a lot and at times, or many times, do not like what I see. Yoga has helped me quiet my relentless, wicked, and foul mind. I only need an hour or so of peace, you see. One out of 24 is more than enough to sustain me and allow me to soldier on despite the demeaning internal dialogue that rages in my head even when, I believe, I’m asleep. I need that one hour or so of compassion for myself from myself because I need it to be compassionate. I need to understand those who are not compassionate toward me or others. I often judge myself for judging others who are judgmental and it never ends… until I hit the mat. I’m not saying yoga is the solution for every problem on the planet. There is yoga and yet there is war. There is yoga and yet there is rape. There is yoga and yet there is intolerance.

But there is yoga, and thank God for that.

——-

Image

 

Tim Hetherington, portrait by Stephen Kosloff, CC by 2.0

I am watching the HBO documentary “Which Way Is The Front Line From Here: The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” as I write this. It is a fitting tribute by author Sebastian Junger to his fallen friend. I first came across the image of Tim Hetherington on television, in an interview he gave to CNN during the 2010 war crimes trial of former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor. I was writing an article on Taylor for a news website at the time and this was how I became extra attuned to this story. While watching the interview, I was drawn to the superficial: the deep alpha voice coupled with an impeccable English accent, the regal yet rugged bearing. Yet I was more impressed by his gentlemanly resistance to decimate a supermodel’s character despite her testimony during the trial. That was hard, I thought, because it was so easy to get carried away by anger and blurt out something sensational, which, in this case, would have been understandable and even warranted (judgment, I know). Anyway, I wrote the story, had it published and forgot about the intelligent and earnest English gentleman with the nice voice. Less than a year after that interview, that gentleman, a war photographer, would be dead in Misrata, Libya, along with another photojournalist Chris Hondros, and the whole journalistic world would be shaken to its depths.

News of untimely deaths has a downing effect on me even though I know nothing about the person who passed. In instances where I read or hear about young people who die violent deaths or succumb to illness, I always have to remind myself that we are all on borrowed time and death can fetch us any day. But I was struck by the interest that Tim Hetherington’s story aroused in me. The more I read about him, the more curious I got. The sadder I became, too, that lives such as his and Chris’s, so full of promise and possibility, were snuffed out just like that.

Why am I writing about Tim Hetherington on my yoga blog? Well, what’s not yoga-like about Hetherington? By all accounts, he was a humanitarian and the embodiment of compassion. He wanted to get into the core of the human experience by documenting the suffering, joy, vulnerability and beauty around him. Judging by how he was and still is being mourned, he knew what love and friendship were and what they entailed. His creativity stemmed from being present, from his need to connect with a Source, from his hunger to understand himself and his world. His was and is an incandescent spirit.

Here was a man who truly lived.

Namaste.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: