Whew! Here I am in Boston with our good friends, Deborah and Eppie. It is Labor Day Weekend. We are here for a wedding and make our way today from Boston to Providence, RI where we join, others from around the country to celebrate the union of Niki and Fredric. the rehearsal dinner is at the Barrington Yacht Club and ceremony at the local Country Club. It promises to be a gala event. I am grateful to be here.
I passed a somewhat sleepless night in a futon bed. Albeit comfortable, it’s a little small compared to our king bed at home. And so the dissatisfaction begins. It is unseasonably hot here in Boston. Our friends do not have air conditioning. Their second floor living space, tempered by a balmy cross breeze, offered a respite from the heat, but the third floor sleeping area lacked adequate ventilation. I prefer a cool sleeping environment and was definitely challenged by the stagnant, sticky air. My body craved coolness and my mind longed to snuggle under the safety of la light blanket.
I awoke feeling quite rested, but annoyed, not by my lack of sleep but by my personal dissatisfaction. One would think that growing up in a five-room, one bathroom house with nine people would set the stage for infinite gratitude, particularly in relationship to the abundance of the life I now live. Wrong. Three months after completing our kitchen remodeling project, I cannot silence the “hungry ghost” within. ”Maybe there should be more color. Do I need a carpet under the table for color? Should I have painted the walls a warmer shade? I could have gotten a farm sink?” What the hell is that about? I love my sink…delayed the renovation almost 4 weeks waiting for it to be baked and shipped. ”Do I need more texture? I could have done lighter floors or darker ones.” You get the picture. ”Maybe contrasting door pulls would give me the punch I think I need.”
Moving on. ”When are you going to do something about the nasty guest bath?” The cavernous internal inferno, the looming abyss, the demon filled darkness, remnants of a loveless childhood, a turbulent adolescence, and an ever-present, haunting desire for external perfection. Please God, let me be perfect so the world will love and admire me. Give me the formula, show me how to accessorize my home, my wardrobe, my yard and my language. Surely the right bracelet, another piece of trendy art work, a well manicured garden would appease the naysayer constantly snapping at my heels. The faster I run, the more heated his pursuit.
The “hungry ghost,” never satisfied, persists. ”The couch you bought is too big for the room and that sisal rug. How impractical was that? Don’t you think you should clean up the garden at the end of the drive? It looks as though someone vomited out a bunch of random plants and you left the puke there for the world to see. You just don’t get it do you? You will never be enough.”
I am more than enough or so I tell myself every day. Enter yoga. ’The aim of yoga is to eliminate the control that material nature exerts over the human spirit, to rediscover through introspective practice what the poet T.S. Eliot called the ‘still point of the turning world.’ In the view of Patajanli (who wrote the Yoga Sutras) “yogic practice can break habitual ways of thinking and acting that bind one to the corruptions of life.” (Babara Stoler Miller excerpted from Yoga Discipline of Freedom.) In other words, the practice of yoga satisfies and silences the hungry ghost, a creature that demands daily attention.
I see, from my perch on Deborah and Eppie’s veranda, the tree tops waving at the sky. Their nascent rustling reminds me to wrap my arms around the wonder of this moment; to dive deeply below the surface of longing and to swim with the dolphins.
“To the Dolphin alone, nature has given that which the best philosophers seek:
Friendship for no advantage. Though it has no need of help from any man, it is a
genial friend to all and has helped mankind.” — Plutarch
And so the world of life turns from darkness to light. My day begins anew.