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The importance of planning

By June 19, 2007March 24th, 2014self-referential

Last Saturday I didn’t have much planned.  When people asked me what I was doing for the weekend, I wasn’t able to answer the question very well.  The one thing that I wanted to do was to go to my yoga class.  I hadn’t been able to go to yoga once during the week, and was looking forward to going to the 10:00 yoga class on Saturday.

That’s what I “had planned.”  After that, I figured everything else would fall into place.

I rode my scooter over to class and strolled up to the entrance with my mat, towel and water bottle.  There was a sign on the front door: “The 10:00 am yoga class is canceled.”   I remembered that Bruno, my yoga instructor, had said there would be a workshop this weekend; maybe the workshop was happening now.  Opening the door, I could see there were people in the studio so I headed in.

Everyone was sitting in a circle and there was a tall, handsome man addressing the group in a soft French accent.  Bruno waved me in with an inviting smile.  I found a spot on the floor and sat down.  As I looked around I could see that there was a local reporter with a laptop and a photographer.  In time I learned that this workshop involved a very strange form of yoga.

The other instructor was a slender woman named Hilary who apparently had been a stand-up comedian for many years.  She tired of the cut-throat business of stand-up and longed for that simple and joyful thing that had drawn her into comedy in the first place.  That’s how she discovered “Laughter Yoga.”

After a brief introduction to the principles of Laughter Yoga, we were told to introduce ourselves using funny faces.  A few of the participants were not much into being foolish in front of other adults.  I was one of them.  Still, I didn’t want to leave the room and essentially announce that I wasn’t willing to participate.

Laughter Yoga is built on the well-known principle that laughing is a good thing, and makes you feel better.  There are scientific studies that support this view.  Some folks in India started “laughing clubs” where people would gather and tell jokes.  But after awhile, they ran out of jokes (and some people were starting to get offended by some of the jokes anyway).  Madan Kataria, the instigator of this movement, decided to just have people gather and laugh.  No jokes.  Just laughter.

And how does that work?  Well, as it turns out, you get the same health and mood enhancing benefits from fake laughter as you do from ‘real laughter.’  And watching a bunch of people fake laugh is pretty funny so it doesn’t take long before you are laughing at something “real.”

The funniest thing about the Laughter Yoga seminar that I went to is that it turned out to be an all day seminar and, at the end of it (yes, I stayed for the whole thing), I was given a certificate that attests to the fact that I am now a “Laughter Yoga Instructor.”  Now, THAT is hysterical!

Among the many things I learned is that laughing all day long is a serious workout.  When I got home I found out that I’d lost 4 pounds.  Needless to say, I was hungry.  I invited Becky to go to dinner at a Tapas restaurant called Mimi’s, which is in the Marigny section of New Orleans.  After dinner we went for a stroll and eventually came upon a woman who was holding a kitten that was mewing incessantly.  Apparently, the kitten was 7 weeks old and had lost its mother.  The woman kept saying that she wanted to take her but couldn’t.  I agreed to take the kitten.

As Becky drove home the kitten was freaking out, but I kept holding it and trying to calm it down.  Half way home the kitten started to release the contents of its bowel onto my pants.  I didn’t want to get my car dirty too, so I kept the kitten positioned right on my pants, where it continued to purge soft brown substance on to my legs.  I was getting  little tense, but I tried to breathe and keep calm.   After all, I was doing a good thing right?

When I got home I scurried into the bathroom to take off my jeans.  I bunched the pants up and plopped everything into the washing machine and started it up.  Then I went to the store to get some cat food and kitty litter.  At the store I realized I had lost track of my cellphone.  I usually carry it in my pants pocket, and so the thought occurred that maybe I had put them in the wash.  I started to worry because all of my contacts are in my cellphone and I haven’t been able to synchronize it in several months.  When I got home I raced to the washing machine and opened it up.  There was my phone, completely soaked.

Obviously, it would never function again. Not good.

I could feel my face start to get warm and my head was getting lighter as I became consumed with anger.  Then something inside me switched gears.  I thought about Laughter Yoga, and decided that I would try to fake a smile.  As I pulled the corners of my mouth up into an exaggerated smile I could feel the anger starting to recede.  Soon I began to realize that I was getting upset for no good reason. I realized that I can’t control the things that happen in life.   Oh sure, I could have “controlled things” so that I didn’t drown my phone in the washing machine.  But, my phone could just as easily have met its demise in some other fashion.

No matter how much you plan, life is always going to throw you some curveballs.  And the best thing to do is to prepare to deal with stuff that you’re not expecting.

When I woke up on Saturday morning I had no idea that I would (1) become a Laughter Yoga instructor; (2) rescue a lost kitten, and (3) lose my cellphone with all of my valuable contacts.  In the long run, I was going to have to replace that phone anyway.  So maybe, in time, I will learn that was for the good too.  Meanwhile, the whole Saturday adventure was pretty funny.

If you look at it in the right way.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

17 Comments

  • Ernie says:

    The kitty is fine. And his name is ‘Sammy.’ The old phone is working well enough that I can retrieve my old contacts (albeit manually, which takes time). And my new iPhone works very well! So, it all worked out in the end. 🙂

  • rosalea says:

    So true, so true. The “letting go” lesson personified (felinified?) by the kitty on your lap. I see the mouseover says “kitty”… is that what you named it?

  • dd says:

    Ernie -I do love this post. Was Mimi’s good? I walked past it a month or so ago but it was too late to dine there. My mother has washed her phone before and she put it in the oven on the lowest setting and brought it back to life…. the photos on the camera even came back. I was amazed. bon chance!

  • suzanne says:

    So, how’s the kitty?

  • what is your email address?

  • Sophmom says:

    Great post. I’m with those who’re encouraging you to try to get the SIM read (if your contacts were saved to the SIM). Water almost always kills the phone but often the SIM survives and the contacts can be transferred to the new phone’s SIM. I don’t know if this applies to iPhones, which are singing a siren’s song to me as well.

  • girlie girl says:

    have been reading your blogs this afternoon in between cleaning my friend’s house. cleaning is therapeutic. i heard you cleaned a house yesterday… how’d that go?

  • Ernie says:

    That IS weird. I wonder who that guy was?

  • Miguel says:

    Ernie,

    This has nothing to do with your post, but yesterday I dreamt I met ‘you’ someplace other than New Orleans and spoke in Spanish to you.

    The weird blogging thing is that if I go back to your picture I did not actually meet you, but this other look-alike guy actually introducing himself as the blogger, Ernie the Attorney.

    He went over some Panama-talk and Louisiana tales. Something about food and restaurants and practicing law. Nice guy.

  • Charlie Hebert says:

    Ernie,

    About 6 months ago one of our employees washed and dried her phone. I let it sit for about a week and could never get it to come on. Stuck it in a drawer in my office. After reading this and the related link I just went and tried the phone again. It fired right up – with a full battery charge. I’d stick it in a bowl of rice for a couple of days then try it if I were you. (And then BACK IT UP)!

  • Those kinds of days are some of the best days (not that the phone was good but it will pass easily enough). Not planning and having such an eventful day is fun.

  • Jeff Richardson says:

    Ernie, you spent way too much time making up this story just to justify your purchase of an iPhone on June 29th. 🙂

  • Ernie says:

    Nan, you can find a laughter club (which is what the grassroots groups are called) at this link: https://www.laughteryoga.us/find-a-laughter-club.php

    I noticed that in Los Angeles the program is led by Hilary Kimblin whom I believe is the nice young woman that helped lead our class. She’s really fun and I’m sure you’d like her class so go check it out. She also teaches regular yoga in case you want to try her in that context first.

  • nan says:

    I love this story. I wish there was laughter yoga at a studio around me in Los Angeles, though . . . like you I probably would never sign up and would have to stumble upon it to end up taking a class that required me to make funny faces. Perhaps as a certified laughter yoga instructor you now know where I can find such a class, so that I can pretend I don’t mean to go, but end up there anyway.

  • rcs says:

    Crazy day you had! Coincidentally enough, this tip for drying gadgets was recently posted on LifeHacker.

  • ed says:

    The perfect reason to get that iphone. The subconscious at work?

  • dangerblond says:

    Ernie, great post, it is so true about the healing properties of laughter! I take a dose almost every day. I wanted to tell you that I killed my cellphone with water once and the Verizon people were able to save the contacts.