On the Value of Pretense


(LEVITATE Much?) Black and white photograph by Tomasz Gudzowaty.

(LEVITATE Much?) Black and white photograph by Tomasz Gudzowaty.

Without my intending it, this year has become the year of breaking through blocks long held in my body-mind.

Most yogis labor under some kind of perceived limit. For some people (including me), it’s inversions like handstands; for other people (including me), it’s backbends like drop backs. No matter how much the body yields—no matter how much pliancy and malleability patient and persistent work bestow—there’s always the idea of an asana or set of asanas that one can never do.

This idea of the impossible remaining impossible is useful if it doesn’t deter the workif, in fact, it fosters the work by eliminating the attachment generated by expectation. Then all there is is an awareness of play: of mimicry in the sense of make believe (“let’s pretend I can actually do this…”). And then somehow, somewhere along the way, imitation becomes reality and pretense becomes performance.

As a teacher I just recently met told me: The body can’t distinguish between fact and fiction.

So yes, let the blocks melt. Until they do, I’ll just play pretend.

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