Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The one about tanks, or me, it's difficult to say

Since this blog originated with the concept of extending grace, more and more I find, the person to whom I need to extend the most grace is um, Me.
I'm a complete mess most of the time, and the only reason I write at all is because I must.

So, here's guilty confession number 237: I am not of strong character. I am a people pleaser. Ooohhh, that's 2. It's ironic, since I am also very outspoken. But there it is. I am an outspoken people-pleaser of weak character. I bet you're jealous.....I am a walking oxymoron. (But definitely not a moron.)

Here's the stage; I've just sat down to a picnic lunch with a handful of acquaintances and friends I have not seen in a while. I am eager to impress. Especially since one of said acquaintances can only recall me based on a very unfortunate crush I had years ago. Gosh, I hope I gave him a better association today. I'm thinking maybe no.
The table is spread with wine, cheeses and bread, olives, pate and prosciutto. A discussion on the humaneness of pate arises. I didn't bring it up, but being the know it all that I am, and only after the question was asked, I contributed to the conversation that pate is often the result of inhumane treatment of animals, look across the table and realize aforementioned friend is spreading generous portions of pate on bread. Shortly thereafter, it was pointed out, not by me, that I am a vegetarian. I felt on the spot. When asked why, I gave my stock answer that there's many reasons, I'm not a militant vegetarian, and I really just don't like meat. I was so anxious to not offend, that I wanted to wave it all away. I felt all sorts of wishing I wasn't such a big-mouthed introvert.
I shared funny stories of the "vegetarian" friend I traveled with in Israel who ate lamb every chance she had. Who can blame her? I shared how, as a child, I often was sent to bed during dinner because I would not eat the meat on my plate. In my haste to control the attention placed on me, I missed out on something. I missed out on hearing that my  friend's new husband is also a vegetarian, and that he and I probably have a lot in common. I missed out on hearing his perspective, and maybe being the richer for it, and perhaps others would have been the richer for it as well. He was about to share his perspective on industrialized food, but the discussion of whether or not we had to eat everything on our plates as children took over.
None of that really resonated with me until much later. That night, I was doing what I do. I read blogs. Other blogs. I don't just read the blogs, if it's a good post, I read the comments. Last night, I read hundreds of comments on a couple posts. What I discovered, which is really not news, is that people just don't listen, or rather pay attention. Comment after comment revealed the reader latched onto one teeny portion of the whole and completely misconstrued the post or the previous comment. Time and again, the author would have to retell what had already been said, and said clearly the first time in my opinion. Commenters preached and pontificated, and I realized I'm not the only misunderstood person on the planet. I get frustrated that I am often misunderstood, but how can I be surprised when I see it happening to others and I'm so busy crafting a pleasing persona, my real person is lost. Everyone has a paradigm from which they operate. Everyone. Some are more aware of this than others. Some can step outside and understand another's point of view. Others cannot or will not. And there's the rub.
What I really take away is to talk less, listen more. Which is really difficult, because I love to tell stories.
That is why I prefer reading blogs and comments. It affords me the time to really hear other people. I am richer every day from the insights and stories others are willing to share. Now to figure out how to apply that in person.
Meanwhile, if you want to know, I will tell you why I am a vegetarian. And, if you eat meat, I am not judging you. Well, mostly not. Maybe a little. No, I'm not.
If you can't make a clear connection between the photo and this post, refer to The Oatmeal.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The one where I use the "F" word

As I fiddle with the color balance levels on one of my camera apps, it occurs to me how much we are responsible for the color of our world. I altered the color balance so much on a photo that a blue sky turned bright orange, and the brown grass turned lavender. The photo may not have any artistic merit; I may be the only person who appreciates it, but for this moment, for something as harmless as a photo, I don't care what other people think.
I do care (what other people think) when it concerns my well being, or the well being of others. What was initially going to be a post about balance is turning into many thoughts on how we color our world. In word, deed, thought and action, we all have a paintbrush. Finding that balance is tricky. Life is about balance and contrast. Day/night. Sleep/work/play. Trust/self-protection. Dark/light. What would you add to the list?
We spend about a third of the time in my yoga class doing balancing postures. I wonder if that translates into real life.
Every facet of life has been challenging my notion of balance lately.
How do we find our balance? How do we find balance in a world that seems to be spinning off its axis?
I feel things acutely. It's part of my genetic code. Sometimes it leaves me wondering if I was the only one who felt the earth move, or if the whole world did. I'm not yet able to decipher that out. For instance, that awkward moment when people don't know if they should clap or not, and then the awkward moment of when to stop...am I the only one who wonders about these things? What is the perfect balance of time to clap? Not so long you're a lone cheering section and not so brief you're the sourpuss barely able to rub two palms together. As a dear friend says "stop thinking." I can't help it. Sometimes, I have vertigo of thought. Spiraling thoughts make me dizzy, and I want to find that firm leg to stand on.
I've been really enjoying a new favorite blog; Recovering Yogi. Usually the stories crack me up. Often, they are self effacing. People have forgotten self effacing I think. They translate it into negative self-talk. But that's another blog post....Recently, someone tackled manners. I have long wanted to tackle manners, as many people around me already know. What I found interesting is the responses to this post. This is all about being in a yoga community, but I'm sure it translates across life.
I'm going to get gross here. Real gross. Leave it to me to use gas as a launch pad for deep thoughts. There was your warning word. I'm going to talk about farts. Right now. Follow me here (if you can stomach it): the author suggested one leave the (practice) room until they can get their gas under control. To which several  responded in different shades of how terrible she is to judge the accidental fart, to which the author responds she wasn't referring to the accidental fart. She understands those happen. Are you so turned off now? Because I'm taking it to the next level. The next comment had me rolling on the floor. "What about the accidental shart?" Yep. I went there.
Where do we draw the line in our collective prudishness/open-mindedness?
Because, this probably isn't a news flash, I would die if that happened to me in class. So should we shame people for bodily functions? No. And, I think we'd all agree that we'd all like to just not have to think about any of the above. But what about the guy who rings out his soaked towel so you can hear a rush of water on his mat while the room is still and quiet? Is that necessary? I've gotten really acceptive of the sweat that happens in hot yoga class. I've accepted gas happens. But if you can help something, do.
Today, I complimented a new (to my studio) woman's top. She thanked me, told me she made it, and that it was the least amount of clothing she could get away with. Followed by, "wouldn't it be great if we could practice naked yoga?" Um, no, no it would not be great. I'll tell you right now, that thought offends my sensibilities way more than the above conversation about gas. But, I can choose to go or not go to a naked yoga class. I can choose to go or not go to a hot yoga class; knowing there will be things that are not my favorite. I can also choose to be mindful of others. I can choose to try not drip all over others. I can choose to not shave my legs when 10 women are in line for the shower. I can choose to respect other people's time and space. I cannot choose whether or not my nose is going to start running. I cannot choose if I have gas...though really friends, I never do that.
Sometimes, I feel like we've gone so overboard in being love and light or being irritable that we don't really know which battles to pick. What I think is okay and not okay is not what you'll think. Somewhere in the middle is balance, no? I think the key is: do no harm, within balance. Be mindful that we share a space in the yoga room and on this planet. I confessed in my last post that I talk about things. It's true, I do. I talk about what's funny, what I want to see change, what's obnoxious. I talk. Here's my choice; if you can't change it, I'm not going to talk about it. If you had a rough day, you've got all my grace. If you're new to something and don't understand, no judgement from me. If you're a selfish prat, then I'm probably talking about you. And when I'm done, I probably still like you. I just don't like that thing you did. The longer I practice yoga, the less annoyed I am in general. But I still expect people to show up and realize we live together and share space. The balance I struggle with is realizing you can't change other people; and realizing you can.