My brother Stuart was in town for a few days. He came to spend time with his wife, Nanette, who is studying International Development at Tulane, at least until mid-July. But we got a chance to hang out a lot, and we mended some old fences. To say that Stuart and I had an atypical childhood is a massive understatement. Throughout all the turmoil of our parents’ protracted and bitter divorce (yes, I’ll have the custody battle too please) and my mother’s mental problems and periodic institutionalizations Stuart and I have mostly been close compadres. Even so, we’ve had some rough spots because when things are going weird around you it’s hard to figure out how to stay sane, so sometimes you look out for yourself first.
The other day someone at Stuart’s company sent around an inspirational photo that said (translating from Spanish) ‘We’re all responsible for our own successes and failures." Stuart responded by sending around a really soul-bearing email that described how he learned this lesson the hard way (is there an easy way?). I’m still learning this lesson, which is unfortunate, but at least I’m narrowing down the list of people who I can fault for my failures. I’m down to one.
A friend of mine (who doesn’t pull any punches) told me recently that I had lost my zen, which pissed me off. I pretended I already knew and that’s why I was angry; but the truth was something else entirely. The thing is that I never really had it. I was getting close back when I used to go to Yoga classes and meditate, but right before Katrina I stopped going to Yoga because I had some back problems. I kept meditating, and that allowed me to think that I was still on the right path. I wasn’t and I knew it but I didn’t want to do anything about it.
Today I got up at 5:45 am and got on my scooter and I went back to my old Yoga class. I mistakenly thought the class started at 6:30 am, so I walked in 20 minutes late. My old teacher was there and he looked different (he had grown a mountain man beard) but his voice and manner was the same. He told me I was late but encouraged me to join in. Then he resumed by asking everyone to ‘examine their intentions’ in his wonderfully thick French accent. He always says this, and I never really understood what he meant. Today was different: I felt awkward and out of balance most of the class but I’m starting to understand about the ‘intentions.’
Classes are every day at 6:00 am. So tomorrow I’ll show up on time and a little more focused. I know now that the key is to keep going to the class and to keep ‘examining my intentions.’ We all have the same flaws and the same weaknesses so it’s useless to blame other people for making us what we are. The question is not what we are, but what we’re going to do about it.