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Suppose you've not been in the gym for years. Suppose further that you went into the gym today. Suppose further than that your surprise at how much you'd forgotten, the basics of working out drifted from your head. Suppose furthest yet that you have maybe half the strength you had when you worked out all the time, that you have to bend your knees doing leg raises instead of holding your legs straight, that your arms are like a broads.
That's what happened to me today.
I was a gym rat; it was great to be back in the gym.
I stepped deeply into the lives of four men.
They stepped deeply into mine.
Bob -- struggling unconsciously with an addiction -- he's conscious of it now.
Jimmy -- thrill-seeking, hard-riding young fool, unable to find the 'Slow' button, not even looking; I hope he survives his foolishnesses, his excesses, his need for speed.
Mike -- he's way over his head, desperately seeking medicinal armistice with bipolar disorder; I know this brutal terrain so well, a road I've walked.
Jason -- the struggles in his marriage, his passivity, her aggression, their foolish, fearful, desperate dance.
It's taxing, but I enjoy this window into peoples lives.
My clothes soaked, sweat all over that mat, the floor, it's pouring off me and more coming, and then more.
I'm at home in this ragged body, I love to work it, ride that bike, swim, run, jerk, jump, jolt, twist and shout, howl and moan.
But I don't know it, not really; I throw the fucker around but it's unconscious movement.
My experience thus far: Ashtanga yoga is extremely physical. I don't need kundalini yoga -- I'm bipolar, your kundalini experience is my Wednesday afternoon -- I want to know my body better, I want to experience it consciously.
There is very little money for social services.
This hits mentally ill people particularly hard; if you're in trouble you are fucked.
You have to be sick enough to need help yet well enough to get it. Get your head around that one.
Consider ramping up to get help from a system stacked against you when you're crippled by depression.
If you're not well enough to get help -- and current policies make it very difficult -- you better have someone to help you, an advocate.
Someone you know has died, or, almost worse, hasn't died, because they've fallen through the cracks.
Yoga -- 6 sessions weekly
Weights -- 3 workouts weekly
All I need do now is get on that bike, ride to the pool, swim for hours, ride hours more in the heat of the day, finish with a monster workout on the bridge in the sunset.
No wonder I had those heart attacks.
What was wrong with just starting yoga -- with Mike, it's not *just* yoga anyways; he's insane. He said today I ought not leave the studio unless/until I'm totally trashed. Which sounded great to me.
I feel like a million bucks.
What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.
Here's one hundred words from late-night Austin: Star Seeds Cafe.
An old diner next to a tacky motel on the interstate, overpasses everywhere, a gritty piece of Austin greatness -- George Jones, Willie, some slash/thrash/trash bands alternating on the way-fucking-loud juke speakers, the best greazy breakfast or death-dealing patty-melts, even some healthy food, though I surely won't recommend it; we're here for greazy greatness.
On any given night you'll see truckers, hispanic families, drunks from the clubs, scenesters, junkies, anyone else.
The wait staff: The best possible mix of truckstop diner and Texas cool.
Austin at it's funky best.
Tonight I met one of the most important artists to come from Texas, Terry Allen. To my mind he's as large a piece of Texas as Willie, and that's pretty goddamned large. He's not put out near as many records, because he's a working artist in so many mediums -- paint, printmaking, movies, plays, books I think though I'm not positive.
People who think that Texas produces only hicks do not understand the beauty of Texas, a fools mistake. They are fooled by the ugliness -- which is considerable -- into thinking there is no poetry here.
Terry Allen: The Poetry of Texas.
I'm up way too late again; I'm to be at the yoga studio at ten am tomorrow. It is now 1:43am.
I'd intended to get lots of sleep, go to bed early and be all rested and shit when I got up.
That isn't going to happen.
Or maybe it is; sometimes I awaken refreshed even on a short amount of sleep.
And my luck is running good tonight -- I called Discovercard earlier, missed last months payment completely, went from 0% to 24% on about seven grand, and since I've got a good history they are moving me back to zero.
We spoke of his wife, living now in a crack-house motel, sucking crack-house dicks, spoke of their pending divorce.
We spoke of his son, the legal battles with his mother-in-law, one of the most unprincipled people I've ever met, a total piece of shit with lots of money, good attorneys.
We spoke of his hairy-legged European angel, The Swiss Miss, her wild sexual abandon, good, restorative fucking, his segue to single life.
We talked about the road he's headed back onto, steps, prayer, AA, AlAnon.
We talked about surrender, acceptance, how he finally got beaten badly enough to let go.
Last -- who gives a shit if that guy has a girlfriend or not? Go get laid. You talk yourself out of everything, you think your way out of everything; I've never known another person who thinks as much as you do, who ruminates this, that, the other, talk it to death while life slips by. Yes, it's true: The unexamined life isn't worth living. But it's also true that the unlived life is not worth examining. Analysis paralysis. Turn off your fucking head, drop your drawers, fuck somebody, suck his dick, writhe and howl and moan. Go get laid! Jesus...
I don't sponsor guys who won't do the work. I don't fuck around. I don't wrestle. I've a backlog of guys who want me to sponsor them; I will not dick around with some mope who's not willing to rock and roll.
This makes being a sponsor fun.
Imagine a therapist watching every one of his clients actually moving.
Imagine a teacher watching every student accepting the challenges of the discipline she's imparting.
I'm no therapist nor teacher but those analogs maybe get you in the neighborhood.
It's the most important thing I do.
I believe I do it well.
These people are astonishing.
Here's some broad, gracefully wraps her leg around her neck six times, runs it in one ear, out the other, scratches her shoulder with her toe.
Twenty minutes into the practice, many of them aren't even breathing hard, much less sweating. Not I; fifteen minutes in I have to stop moving, just breathe, stand there, still, sweat pouring, trembling, trashed. Catch my breath, move again, stop again, breathe.
Mike told me to keep my eyes open, reduces the possibility of passing out. I try to remember that.
I don't know my way around my body.
Yoga is showing me ways I don't know my body.
But I know this body: It's dark, we're walking full speed, in conversation, 'round a corner -- ZAM! A childs picnic table, twelve inches tall, catches the top of my foot.
I'd seen those tables before, my mind instantly knew, my body instantly reacted -- as I'm falling forward I kick my foot back, lift it, then stomp it down onto that table top, launch off it, upward, forward, outward.
I did not fall.
ROCK AND FUCKING ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Experience. Speed. Strength. Luck.
I think I'm proud of myself. I'm very happy.
It all leads me to the process of thinking, actually -- what happened yesterday seemed to happen instantly.
But it didn't happen instantly.
There had to have been commands issued, then processed sequentially, or perhaps even concurrently, but those commands were issued well before I had a chance to consider them 'consciously'.
I don't remember thinking 'Move your body this way or that'. But I had to have done so.
So maybe that is competence -- a process performed so often it becomes 'natural'.
Question: How much of my behavior occurs without my awareness of it?
Answer: One hell of a lot.
So I'm doing it again -- I'm up way too late, Yoga tomorrow at 10:00am and it is 2:19am as I key this in.
Same as last week.
What the fuck?
Puters suck time faster than anything I know of. Reading a book or magazine, watching a movie, scratching my fat ass -- any of those, I have a fairly accurate sense of time, I know where I stand on the timeline of the space-time continuum.
I get to dicking around on this dang puter -- this web site, that one, a few games of Freecell, next thing I know the night's gone.
First time I've missed yoga.
Up late, and couldn't awaken. No, not true -- I did awaken. But I felt like dogshit, like I'd been drinking for days, smoking heavily, lots of shitty bathtub speed, etc and etc.
I hit the snooze alarm for an hour. Then "Fuck it. I'll do it later, on my own." Back to sleep.
Later never came.
It's really helpful to me to have the help of a roomful of others practicing.
Lisa, the temporary instructor while Mike was in California -- I missed saying goodbye to her. I like her, I wanted to thank her.
Peace is right Here. But only Here. And Now. But only Now. Peace lives at the intersection of Here and Now. Always has, always will. It's a good neighborhood.
You can visit for free. Stay as long as you'd like.
It's the best deal I've ever seen.
The only catch: You can't bring your ego.
You can't get there by Remorse Avenue, nor Wistful Way; Resentment Road is a dead-end. And stay the hell off Fear Freeway!
Gratitude Lane is a fine shortcut -- start listing all the things you're grateful for, in ten minutes you find yourself at Peace's place.
My first yoga injury.
My right wrist is hurting.
I don't know how I did it, or when, only that afterwards my wrist was hurting.
It's not muscle pain.
I'd think I'd know if it was bone pain of some sort.
It feels like my left wrist feels when the arthritis is kicking in, after a hard bike ride or weight workout. Except the pain is sharper.
It feels like it got smacked with a hammer, on the bone, somewhere inside. Not hit real hard, but hard enough.
It's got my attention.
I wonder if I can practice tomorrow.
I missed writing here yesterday -- these words written at 8:03pm on the 20th. I spent HOURS writing last night -- helping a friend re-write an important letter -- and damn sure wrote hundreds of words but they weren't the salient of the day, which is what I try to focus upon in these hundreds.
The core piece of my day was not the yoga workout, where for the first time I felt the deep breath that is the heart of Ashtanga. Nor was it working out with Kelly in the gym, arms and chest, GENTLE low back workout for me.
What was it?
One of the reasons I did not want to go to school to learn to draw is because I didn't want to open my art heart to any heartless dickbrain lost in their head, cut off from their soul. That did happen, btw, but I'd taken steps to protect my self; I held him off. Fact is, he loved my art and loved my creativity -- I made a paint brush using some of my chest hair, etc, that sort of thing; his eyes shone, he got it completely, spontaneous laughter, joy, even -- and did all he could to destroy it.
The worst pain in AA recovery: Breakups. And money fears. Those are the biggies, they take us out drinking, always have, always will.
Your money or your honey.
Finance or romance.
Pink or green.
I once told a therapist I was doing okay except job problems and women problems -- he actually broke out laughing, couldn't stop himself, broke every therapist rule there is, felt real bad about it but I'm glad he did it; it showed me the truth of the matter. He went on to tell me, still chuckling, that it's always love or money. Those ARE the issues.
I found out in the gym today -- I'm 21% fat.
I'm a fat fuck.
They don't use those useless calipers anymore; you stand on a machine, barefooted, it takes a read on all kinds of bodily information. I'm fat. I'm dehydrated.
The nutritionist told me that if I keep on -- yoga, the gym -- AND change my diet (I eat very little fruit or vegetables), I can change that in a matter of months.
I've never had the percentage really low; candy bars, ice cream, etc -- it all got in my way. I'm not doing that now.
It'll be fun to watch.
Arms and chest workout at the gym.
A new pose in my yoga practice; worked to my limit, sweat pouring off of me.
Amy, the pharmacist -- "You rock!" Fun.
Out with Jon to see Kyle play, and Dustin, got to meet Savannah, and also met Kate, half owner of the club, and cool as an Austin woman can be. Hint: That's pretty goddamned cool.
Two great bands -- savagely real, heart and soul. Texas.
Kyle is great, a fucking guitar hero; I knew he would be good. He's not showcased in Dustin's band but he shone through.
A great day.
Live with these words. Live with the emotions stirred.
Not that you have a choice.
Your life as you are living it is the largest amends you've made. You are living that amends as well as I have ever seen.
This is the second largest.
There is no hurry. This isn't in your face nor hers. The time you spent together, breadth and depth, deserves honor.
The other amends served to clear the path.
Prayer. Conversation with others who've made these amends. Ninth step meetings.
I'm not going to edit. I'm not going to send you 'my letter'. Let's talk.
Yoga. Today was hard. Hard. As in, HARD.
I'm worn down, worn out. Thank god tomorrow is full moon; we don't practice on full moon, nor new moon.
Ashtanga is very intense, I'm very intense, Mike is very intense. I've given him the keys, he gets to drive this old car, I let him push me, want him to push me.
Today I almost fell over. Exhaustion. And it's hung with me all damn day and all damn night, I'm worn and worn-out, I'm flat and flat-out fucking tired.
I enjoy a challenge. I've got one. I'm in.
Fun. Today was fun. Mostly, anyways.
No, all of it. Maybe all of it. No telling; my brain is now jello from about two hours of watching a dry, sarcastic, savagely funny English atheist online. This guy is great.
Anyways, back to my day.
Harvest moon, and I watched it rise with my new neighbor Claire, just moved here from Florida, starting over after a breakup and just loving Austin. I don't blame her; Austin is Disneyland for adults.
Other than that, just another spectacular day on this beautiful ball of mud, water, and rocks -- I'm so grateful I'm alive.
I'm not supposed to take ibuprofen, my heart and all.
Start an Ashtanga practice taught by Mike, gotta have ibuprofen.
Clearly, I'm insane also; I keep returning. I almost passed out today; kindly, Mike reminded me 'Keep your eyes open; it helps you avoid that'. Dickhead.
Seven hours after, my shoulders hurt. My ass hurts, muscles I never remember being sore before, and I've done all kinds of workouts, all kinds of physical work.
Watching a woman today, I was moved, as by art. Strength. Balance. Flexibility. Breath. Will. Grace. True beauty.
Myself -- thus far, sweat and suffering.
Spent this day hurting from yesterdays practice, and tired, and I hungered through the night and day, and ate large; using my body this way has me hungry as hell.
Many people can't maintain a rigorous practice and a vegetarian diet; they just don't have the energy. They hunger after protein.
I'm eating plenty of good fats and good protein; the carbs take care of themselves.
Oddly, for all the hunger, I don't want sweets or junk.
I ate a dozen eggs today. Oatmeal. Brown rice and black beans with grapeseed oil, some diced tomatoes. Whey protein shakes.
I've been reading The Yearling, three hundred pages into five hundred. It's a pleasure, and a wonder to consider how people lived, how close to the earth, tied to its rhythms and bounties, or lack of bounties.
I'm not recommending it to you, just saying.
I'd read this book, long ago. I don't recall how old I was; I don't recall the plot, barely recall the characters.
It's difficult for me to understand how this book is classified a childs book -- yeah, a child could read it, many have. But it's rich; good setting, time, the story flows, written well.
The best of the day was the beauty in it, armadas of brilliantly white, towering cumulus, horizon to horizon, the sky a perfectly rich, clear blue, and almost no cirrus or none laying between; on the bridge south of town, eighty foot up maybe, or a hundred, it's all laid out for me in every direction -- Texas in autumn glory. It's as pretty as springtime, a few summer flowers now gone but others, less hardy, unable to withstand summers blast furnace, now blooming colorfully, everything still green and alive, just a few scattered leaves fallen, sortof like it's practicing for November.
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