On the Surrender of Attachments

I apologize for my silence over the last several days. It’s not actually the first time I’ve gone “AWOL” on the blogjust the first time I’ve been honest about it. For the most part, I try to maintain some kind of a presence by saying “Peripateia is Out.” The idea is that I’ll have time later on to fill in the missing posts, the sort of deception obvious to everyone else but the perpetrator herself.

But in this last week of December, I figured: I’ve surrendered enough attachments this 2012 to relinquish this attachment to posting daily as well. The letting go proved surprisingly (very surprisingly) easy. The inner voices didn’t even put up a fight. Even more unexpectedly, the inner voices didn’t even demand an explanation for why they (the inner voices) didn’t put up a fight. (Perhaps the inner voices were busy caroling.)

Anyway, that’s one more attachment gone, and I’m glad it happened while it was still 2012 (my Grand Year of Letting Go, otherwise known as my Grand Year of Discovering What Was Not Essentially Me). All this means that I have even more space in 2013. To do exactly what, I’m not sure. Or to be more precise, I’m not exactly certain.

And guess what, the inner voices are okay with the uncertainty too.


Anyway, happy happy New Year’s Eve everyone. I hope your 2012 was as positively life-changing as mine was.


On the Recipe for Happiness

Here’s a foolproof method for generating the warm-and-happy-fuzzies:

Play all available versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (preferably at least ten versions, including the ones by Michael Bublé, Karen Carpenter, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart). Start singing along in the second round. Create an interpretive dance in the third round.

If that doesn’t work, you are clinically depressed.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas everyone.

On the Rewards of Springcleaning

After two weeks of an almost unusual lethargy (sleeping nine hours at night, two hours during the day), I finally managed to shake off my torpor by resorting to a time-honored (and time-tested) tradition: springcleaning before the new year.

It took a good six or seven hours, but now the studio’s even neater than it usually is: displays straightened, cabinets cleared, bins emptied, blocks arranged, mats rolled, magazines stacked.

And all this while managing the front desk, teaching a class, handling two unexpected visits and attending one impromptu meeting.

I’m perfectly aware that I’m resorting to my old tricks: tidying up zealously and ticking things off my checklist have always been my favorite ways of avoiding the din in my head as well as establishing my worth as a human being. But I’m tired of mulling things over, tired of trying new, “evolved” ways of dealing with the chronic restlessness. My old tricks may never have helped me plumb the abyss, but they did manage (at least) to keep me from falling over the edge.

And right now, I’m at the point where I’m going to try whatever works.

All of which means: I’m probably going to springclean my house next.


On the Joys of Simplicity

So, I’m feeling a tad bit disoriented, simply on account of the fact that I actually got to visit my dentist and my dermatologist today (two long overdue appointments that happened only because a scheduled private class got canceled).

For all the space that’s appeared in my life recently (space soon to disappear in the weeks ahead once my plans for 2013 get underway), things are still very, very different from how they were just a mere seven or eight months ago. It’s a sign of the new “normal” that such routine errands as visiting the dentist (or visiting the dermatologist, or doing the laundry, or shopping for groceries) have become mini-getaways: carefully plotted, zealously savored and meticulously carried out.

Watching a movie, in a similar vein, is a downright vacation; getting a massage, the height of indulgence.

In a strange and certainly unexpected way, this state of affairs hasn’t been entirely bad. It’s marvelous to discover that the simplest things can apparently make one happy (it’s one thing to mouth a cliché; another to really, really get it). Recent joys: going up and down the aisle of the supermarket looking at newly-developed packaging (an addiction I’ve carried over from my corporate days); lying in bed for an extra 15 minutes just because the day’s class is starting at 9:00 am; curling up with the latest Daniel Dennett book (Freedom Evolves); having long, meandering chats with clients who’ve become friends; singing Michael Bublé’s rendition of White Christmas (a duet with Shania Twain, and yes I’m doing both voices) at the top of my lungs because there’s no one else around.

So maybe it’s just the holiday cheer. But even if it were, the sheer fact that I’ve succumbed to the festive mood (something that hasn’t happened in years) is cause enough to celebrate as well. Whatever it is, I’m happy, I’m content, and best of all, I actually know it.

On the Similarities to Dojos

(JAPANESE Dojo) Photo sourced from Google.

(JAPANESE Dojo) Photo sourced from Google.

“A dojo is a miniature cosmos where we make contact with ourselves—our  fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits. It is an arena of confined  conflict where we confront an opponent who is not an opponent but  rather a partner engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully.  It is a place where we can learn a great deal in a short time about who  we are and how we react in the world. The conflicts that take place  inside the dojo help us handle conflicts that take place outside. The  total concentration and discipline required to study martial arts  carries over to daily life. The activity in the dojo calls on us to  constantly attempt new things, so it is also a source of learning—in  Zen terminology, a source of self-enlightenment.”

From Joe Hyams’ Zen in the Martial Arts

I’ve always thought of the studio as a dojo without quite articulating why to myself. And now, here it is. Here’s why.

Thank you Joe Hyams.

On the Difficulties of Practice

In a message sent a few days back, my friend J. told me:

“Your writing is so polished, and the thoughts are so formed, that I wonder if there isn’t something else underneath it that you have not seen or even been aware of yet.”

Only J. is capable of backhanded compliments like this, praising my clarity on the one hand while pointing out the underlying opacity on the other. The comment took me by surprise. I’ve never thought of my writing as “polished.” I’ve also never entertained the possibility that there’s something about myself that I haven’t seen (at least in terms of the really big stuff). If there are things in my life that don’t work, they don’t stem so much from a dearth of knowledge as from an abundance of complacency.

As I said in an earlier blog post, clarity of articulation isn’t always synonymous with depth of acceptance (hence the divide between epistemology and ethics). As arrogant as it may seem, I’ve already distinguished the major facets of my shadow self: all those parts of me that I loathe, regret, fear and despise. If they wreak havoc on my life, it’s not because I haven’t seen them—

It’s just that I haven’t done much to address them (or at least I haven’t done enough).

So maybe it’s time for me to stop succumbing to the lethargy—time, finally, for me to stop parading self-awareness as a consolation prize for not doing what I know I should be doing.

Maybe this is what 2013 will be about.