I had my first philosophical encounter last night – after two, rather paltry margaritas no less.
Currently, I am unable to run. I did something weird to my toe and it’s making me crazy because I don’t know WHAT I did nor do I have any idea whatsoever to make it stop. The MRI, fortunately, returned in the negative for any breaks or “serious issues, but this did nothing to solve any of my weird “twinges” that seem to occur when I wear my running shoes and not any other time.
OH. Maybe that’s it? The shoes? Only time will tell.
But for now, I’m just yoga-ing and (really) trying to pay attention to what I’m eating. That’s the blessing and the curse of being active in a running kind of a way; you are hungrier and know that you will be burning off most of what you eat, but then you tend to make less wise choices (cookie?! Yes please! Full-fat coconut milk ice cream? Sure, I’ll take a pint!) because…you know you can run it off. This is an annoying trap I keep falling into and I think that it’s about time to create some true balance in my life. Therefore, when running does commence, which it will, I am not going to go nuts, “train” for anything, but enjoy each run when I feel like it, not because I finished the fries last night or ate two cupcakes.
Did I mention I can be a bit bonkers?
However,my form of bonkers is nothing like the bonkers that I saw on display last night when I was coming home from a hot evening in the West Village and the two aforementioned, rather weak, margariatas. First, a nice tattooed rather racist gentleman – who may have been a tad intoxicated – decided to raucuously inform us how much he hated Muslims, Mexicans, Irish people and the girl because she was laughing like an Irish person. Then on the train coming back to Queens, another gentleman chose to sit and dance around to a tune of his own making, while trying to sing and gyrate to…I don’t even know what. Of course, the non-crazy guy opposite me was laughing, and I caught his eye and couldn’t STOP laughing; it’s like when you’re in class and not supposed to laugh but you can’t avoid it, and whatever was making you laugh becomes 10 times funnier in an attempt to be serious.
So I thought my experience of the crazy was complete when I disembarked from the subway and stopped at the organic store for “healthy” ice cream and salad. Not to be consumed together. Naturally, I entered into discussion with a gentleman contemplating the dairy-free treats on display. He was vegan, and we somehow started talking about veganinsm and doing yoga. He said, “You’ll have to give all that up if you want to be a yoga teacher. No external pleasures.” I looked at him like he was mad. “Um, no. I’m not that kind of person. I believe in balance.” He looked at me like I as crazy. “I’m going to eat ice cream and have coffee and wine and do what I want. I can still be a yoga teacher.” He said, “Well, what about a heroin addict? They have a choice? You going to shoot heroin too?” I just looked at him and at this point wanted to curse the man out. But I remained calm. “I have a choice. I choose to not to that because it doesn’t interest me and I don’t feel the need to fundamentally alter myself in that way.” He then wittered on about free will, to which I argued that the compulsion to do heroin did involve free will, to an extent, but if one were making those choices, one may not exactly be entirely healthy, mentally, at the time of the action. I then said that I choose the decisions I make based upon the kind of person I am and how true I want to remain to myself; eating meat and drinking wine when I want and in moderation is a choice based upon my personal preferences, done for yes, enjoyment, but also nutrition and optimal physical functioning.
He replied, “Well, it’s all about karma – it will come back to you. It’s cause and effect. You eat meat, you come back in the next life as an animal…” and I said, “that’s not how karma works. Karma is cause and effect and it affects everything in the present, it’s not a punishment, like that. Are you Buddhist?”
“No,” he said. “I’m Catholic and from Astoria.”
I said, “well, look, I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism and that’s not karma, exactly.”
He looked at me. “Well, it’s between you and god then. You know that – Yoga means union between you and god.”
“I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God. And that’s not what yoga means. Yoga means “union” – that can be the union of mind and body, the uniting of everyone practicing together, in a room. The union of you with your self, with the breath and the movement. -”
“And god.” He looked at me, again, like I was a screw loose. “Well, god created everything, it’s everywhere. And the lord Buddha, he was a god – “
I really was ready to not take any more at this point. But I felt like I had to set this guy straight. This vegan guy who looked like he was Buddhist or into Eastern religion, but clearly had some Catholic issues hanging around.
“Buddha was not a god. Buddha was a man who was a philosopher. He was raised in great wealth and gave that all up because he wanted to learn more about himself and about his life. He meditated in order to find deeper meaning and to understand. He was not a god, was not god itself”
“Well, something created everything – “
“No, things just are. That’s Buddhism. No beginning and no end. Everything is cyclical and changing.”
At this point, he wanted to get into reincarnation, in a somewhat misinformed manner, I just had quite reached my tether’s end. I picked up my ice cream. “it was nice to meet you, I’m Miriam” I saw with a winning grin.
“Oh, I’m Anthony,” he smiled back.
“Have a great night, nice talking to you.” I ran around the corner, exhaled heavily and paid for my purchases and left.
The moral of this story? I can still be astute after two margariats, the heat really does make people more nuts and I actually retained and believe the information that I have been reading.
And I don’t give a crap what a misinformed holier-than-though person thinks. My balance is my balance, and I can still be a good yoga teacher without adhering to something in which I don’t believe. Because that, to me, is the true union – a union between the true mind and the self, and honoring that in which I believe, that perpetuates goodness and kindness and does not bring harm to myself or transmits an inauthentic message.
If I can’t tell the truth to myself on the mat or even off it, I and anyone else has no business trying to teach others anything at all.