From an old Peter Max magazine

Bellydance 1969

Man is one. God is one. Love is one.
We are all the fruits of one tree
And the leaves of one branch.
Everyone is God in the process of evolution.
Identify yourself with everything that lives.
Love all God’s creation.
Love even the leaf;
Love the animals, love the plants,
Love everything.
Feel that the one power
Of God works through all hands,
Sees through all eyes,
Hears through all ears.

The picture is from an article from the January Suhaila newsletter (http://www.suhaila.com/SuhailaSite/Newsletter.htm). The writer, Melinda Lou, was the baby in the womb when this picture was taken in the summer of ’69. The picture above and the verse were featured in a 1970 issue of Peter Max, which I gather was some hippie magazine. I thought the picture was pretty neat.

I’m especially good at expectorating. . .

Rowan has been into Beauty and the Beast lately, the Disney musical version. Anything with music is good in her book, so I’m stuck with a Disney musical in my head. Repeating again and again. Ah well, I didn’t want to stuff my head with thoughts, did I? I’ll just stay in playback mode until the tape runs through.

Tomorrow my classes with Sadira start again. Have I been practicing my finger cymbals? No. I haven’t even been doing very well with practicing even my basic drills. This morning I got up at 5:30 (I’ve actually been managing to do this for a week now) but I was so stiff I could barely move, even after doing a few sun salutations. This may not bode well for working out in the morning if I am incapable of moving my spine. I pulled that muscle in my back 3 months ago, and in the morning I’m like a little old lady. God knows what I’ll be like when I’m really an old lady. 🙂

Saw Bill and Olya yesterday with their little ones. I’m telling you, with all the blond toddlers spawned by me and my friends, we could set up a village of the damned right here in Wisconsin. Rowan was mostly well behaved, so that’s good. We played some Zelda and then just amused ourselves by watching the kids. Damien is 2 and Sergei 4 months. Rowan didn’t nap and crashed in our arms later in the evening. It was good to see old friends.

Getting back to normal

So this is my first week back after traveling and seeing old friends. Rowan and I visited my parents, it went well. I did regress a little, it seems to always happen. And it’s such a dicotomy. But my mom certainly appreciated it. I even went to church in a reunion mode. Saw some people I haven’t seen in awhile.

Then we came back and Rowan was sick, so I had to take another day off. Saturday I went to Chicago for the Rachel Brice workshop. It was so cool to meet her, she’s such an inspiration. She was very funny and down to earth. The workshop was packed.

I love bellydance, but sometimes I despair of doing it well. I would love to perform, even just once, but I wonder if I will ever feel ready. When Rachel dances, it is like a work of art, like a dance I’ve never seen before and I’m utterly entranced. Her dance is art. I don’t know if I can do that kind of art. I don’t know if I could be that beautiful. She is a professional, she practices every day and I have trouble just fitting practice in. I know I can’t be another Rachel, everyone is their own unique person and had their own take on the dance, but I wish I could portray even just a little of that beauty.

Books

So someday in my life, I need to write a couple of books.

The first would be “The Five Stages of Immortality”, a treatise on accepting immortality. See Leif and I are always bouncing stories off of each other and his stories have some weird stuff like creepy people who are sort of vampires but not really. However, if say, you found out one day that you were immortal, it would take some time to accept that. You would go through a process of grieving for your mortal life. Oh sure, you’d be estastic at first, because who the hell wants to die? But worse that dying is seeing the people you love die. And of course, not everyone gets to be immortal so you’d have to deal with some deep issues basically on your own. I just don’t think anyone’s taken the time to do a real thorough analysis on accepting unending life.

The second book would be “How Goth Saved Me” an autobiography on coming out of the darkness into the . . .well, I guess it would be into darkness as well, but it would be a different kind of darkness. The good kind.

“How Goth Saved Me: Coming out of the Darkness into a Different Kind of Darkness”

The beauty of yoga

So, I have to say I love yoga. It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in awhile. Oh, I love bellydance too, don’t get me wrong, and it was my shameless idolatry of all things Rachel Brice that first got me into yoga. But nothing else has made me feel so at peace in my own skin.

I have to preface this a couple of facts. I have never had a weight problem. I have never had an eating disorder. In fact, much of the unhappiness in my life has been due to my own neuroses, not traceable to any trauma or great disaster. But I was unhappy for a very long time when I was younger, and I used to think often of how great it would be if I could just be someone else. Someone with a rippled abs, bountiful boobs. . . (and yes, a smaller nose). . .ahem.

It’s just so easy to overlook what we have and focus on what we don’t. And ungrateful wretch that I am, I do it too. But I look at my daughter, and she free and beautiful, the same way a tiger or a flower is, unware of its own beauty. Rowan only notices what her body can do. She jumps, she runs, climbs and acts. She simply is. And though my yoga practice is still very much that of a beginner’s, it is nice to see what I can do. There are some things I can do that I had no idea I could do.

Often I feel like there is a running tally in my head. . .did I weight lift twice a week? Did I do my cardio 3X? Did I eat my 5 servings of fruit and veggies? Did I practice my dance? Did I practice my finger cymbals this week? And on and on, the ceaseless chatter of the mind. But with yoga, it is just here, just now, just this breath and nothing else. It is so very different.

The monkey riding the tiger

You can read the accompanying page, but there was an interesting article in the NYTimes about free will:

A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control.

As a result, physicists, neuroscientists and computer scientists have joined the heirs of Plato and Aristotle in arguing about what free will is, whether we have it, and if not, why we ever thought we did in the first place.

Mark Hallett, a researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said, “Free will does exist, but it’s a perception, not a power or a driving force. People experience free will. They have the sense they are free.“The more you scrutinize it, the more you realize you don’t have it,” he said.

That is hardly a new thought. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, as Einstein paraphrased it, that “a human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants.”

How comforted or depressed this makes you might depend on what you mean by free will. The traditional definition is called “libertarian” or “deep” free will. It holds that humans are free moral agents whose actions are not predetermined. This school of thought says in effect that the whole chain of cause and effect in the history of the universe stops dead in its tracks as you ponder the dessert menu.

At that point, anything is possible. Whatever choice you make is unforced and could have been otherwise, but it is not random. You are responsible for any damage to your pocketbook and your arteries.

“That strikes many people as incoherent,” said Dr. Silberstein, who noted that every physical system that has been investigated has turned out to be either deterministic or random. “Both are bad news for free will,” he said. So if human actions can’t be caused and aren’t random, he said, “It must be — what — some weird magical power?”

It reminds me of when I took my first Sociology course. Boy, that opened my eyes, to the myths we hold. Yes, you can be rich. You can be powerful. It takes a lot of hard work, but anyone can do. And so, if you’re not rich, not influential, it must be because you don’t really want to be.

It’s funny, in the church if you did something right, it’s because of God. But if you sin, it’s all your fault. Contrast that to to the feeling that if something is going right in your life (you’re rich, you’re skinny, etc), it’s due to you. And if something bad happens to you, say a car crash or cancer, it’s not your fault. But what if real life is neither of those things? What if we do and what we are is due to a weird magical power?