Such a strange weekend, the one that’s just said its farewells with the typical indolence of the underappreciated and often harried. Even marginally less busy than most others in recent months, still I felt its melodramatic sigh as I scurried towards this morning’s tram.
I can sense the tenseness and tentativeness, and a knowing that right now is almost the end of a number of things. But it’s also almost the birth of others. It’s another one of those sandhis, and yet there’s no lapse in activity this time. Rather, everything is swiftly accelerating.
So it seems it’ll just be all go-go-go while the changing of the guard occurs… it’s a churning (once again) as the solstice draws near, marking the slow death of the sun. Which is nothing more than a re-birth in disguise, is it not?
Been reading a bit more about the life of Swamiji, courtesy of @SatyanandaYoga – here’s a handful of interesting posts:
- Childhood Years
- The Discipleship Years under Swami Sivanananda
- The Parivrajaka Years: Wandering Mendicant
- Swami Satyananda: The Mission
I was especially struck by a paragraph from The Parivrajaka Years (third link):
…Once he was roaming about in a town which he had never visited before. Feeling tired and hungry, he approached the shopkeeper of a large shop and said, “Hari Om.” The shopkeeper replied, “Go away. Find someone else to feed you. Young man begging, have you no shame? Learn to work.” His devotees would be very upset to hear about such treatment, but Swamiji, being unmoved by both praise and blame, would just laugh…
I pray for that state of attainment. That view of the world where neither praise nor blame is important. Where non-duality isn’t just a concept, but a permanent way of being in the world.
For now it’s like speckles of sunlight through the trees – present, but not my moment-to-moment experience. Not yet, anyway. Not until I walk out into the sunlight, eventually, when I find the way…
I bring this up because I’m having to contend (yes, I know, it sounds like the wrong word, isn’t it?) with someone seeking out my company in a way I’m not really used to anymore.
I’m not talking about romance here. Just a person being friendly. Wanting to get to know me. Alright, full disclosure: a person of the opposite gender. And that, well… it is still very much a struggle for me.
It’s been four years since I was assaulted, and now I’m pretty darn functional in most ways. I’m doing very well, even if I say so myself. Especially this year, which has included some of my worst lows, as well as this ever-present and miraculous path of opening.
But it bugs me sometimes that I’m able to meditate and do yoga, and study wonderful books on various yogic topics, and get the whole non-duality thing and even have some experience of what that’s like… and then sometimes I’m still like a frightened rabbit around strange men.
Because right now, I still see difference instead of non-difference.
Probably it’s because I haven’t practiced that whole letting people in thing too much. Mostly, I haven’t had to. But then when I have, it hasn’t really worked out too well.
Mostly I’ve lived like a monk – no contact, not even trying. There were three exceptions to that rule, and none of them were good. There’s also been the odd platonic friend or two that I trusted, but later discovered they weren’t the best ideas I’ve ever had. My view in this respect has been heavily compromised.
Okay, there have been a couple of good eggs – others like me, finding their way out as best they can. And they are still people I count on (they know who they are!!). Thank goodness for them! But they’re kinda different, because they’re in the same boat.
So in response, I’ve grown this reticence – not allowing people to get too close – especially men. It was very necessary for me, to survive living with PTSD. I had to create boundaries, as much to keep myself in one piece as to keep others at bay.
But I don’t need that iron-clad cloak any more. Yet it won’t be shrugged off as easily as that!
So when on Saturday afternoon, the proprietor of my favourite local cafe came over for a chat… it was a bit dicey for a moment there. I mean, it took me at least three weeks of brunch every weekend before I’d look him in the eye as I paid my bill. This, despite absolutely loving the food, music, the way the place is decorated and so on… it’s still not easy for me to be more than polite to a complete stranger of the male persuasion.
There’s a fear that arises when someone reaches out. It’s not rational. It doesn’t even relate to what happened the night I was assaulted.
And this is strange for me, because I am fierce and brave in almost all aspects of my life. But not in this way.
Once the afternoon trade slowed, he sat down next to me for a chat. I froze for a moment. But then one of his mates arrived, and suddenly I was invited to join them for a beer. And what a beer – White Rabbit – a sumptuous local dark ale. Followed by a Czech beer with a distinct honey-ish after-taste (mmmm!).
And we were talking, swapping stories and learning things about each other. And not because he was trying to hit on me. He is just a genuinely nice man, who was busy explaining the passion and magic that goes into creating his cafe and why he does what he does.
He seems to like me. As a person to hang out with. He doesn’t want anything from me, but to get to know one of his loyal customers and be on friendly terms. I suspect the drinks would’ve kept on flowing if I’d stayed. I turned down a third as it was!
I feel welcome at his establishment. I feel liked and appreciated beyond the money I spend eating the divine food that emanates from his kitchen.
And that is strange to me. And I get that it’s strange for it to feel strange. It shouldn’t feel strange when someone offers genuine friendliness, should it?
Then I read how Swamiji laughed at the shopkeeper who berated him for being a wandering sadhu. I get that the limitations of a person’s view can keep them in a place of judgement on others. Like mine have.
My (sub-conscious) judgement has been that men are not safe or honest and I can’t trust them (all good reasons to keep them at arms length). Which is quite unfair, of course. And a rather exaggerated response to the many resulting from the actions of just one.
But I see how my view of friendly relations has collapsed, where a line of innocent questions have in the past, led to terror. Structurally this view has no integrity, that is clear.
And there are demands for change and they want to be heard.
So I didn’t run. Instead, I took several deep breaths and I laughed at myself for feeling out of place in this spontaneous moment of camaraderie.
And enjoyed the sunshine and the beer.