Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yoga bliss

In our ordinary sedentary lives, we put our bodies through a very limited number of actions and positions. What’s wonderful about yoga is the vast variety of actions and the full range of positions it moves you through in a single hour or two. 

And in our ordinary sedentary lives, we continually fold ourselves up into small parcels, bending at the knees and hips and often rounding our shoulders at our desks. In yoga, we live large, fully extending our limbs, pushing down and reaching up.

That must be why you feel so alive after a really thorough class.

Looking good is hard

Clothing makes the woman, or so my friend K believes. Not long ago, she gave me gift—a tour through her closet and through the boutique that supplies her closet. 

“Why are you wearing boys’ clothes?” she asked. I had arrived wearing made-in-China sneakers, 501 Levi jeans, a Uniqlo T-shirt and, yes, a long black Gap hoodie. That’s my typical daywear. And until K exploded with disapproval, I thought it suited me. And it’s cheap and comfortable—though the jeans do pinch my parts sometimes.

So K started dressing me in her clothes—mostly silky black drapery—and to tell the truth, I looked a lot better in her clothes than in mine. 

Then she took me to the boutique, and the owner, who’s a stylist for wealthy clients, selected clothes for me to try on—also mostly silky black drapery. And I looked fabulous—actually beautiful.

Then I looked at the price tags: $100 for a knit top, $200 for a microfiber sweater, $1,500 for a microfiber jacket. I knew I was supposed to buy something. Indeed, K threatened to buy something for me if I didn’t buy something for myself. But I couldn’t do it.

K, who is retired and has only modest savings, says she has decided to spend her money on clothing, since it gives her pleasure and make her feel good about herself. She changes outfits four times a day. She gets her eyebrows dyed! 

She does look wonderful, I admit it. And I was swayed by her argument that clothing can be therapeutic. My clothes, she told me, betrayed a deep lack of self-confidence. I deserved to feel good about myself, she said.


But I was torn. And it wasn’t just the money.  Or at least that’s what I told myself. I wear mostly cotton; the clothes that looked best were synthetics. I wash my clothes in the washing machine, with water; the clothes that looked best needed dry cleaning, with chemicals. The clothes that looked best were less comfortable than the ones I’d arrived in. And yes, I was troubled by the extravagance. How could I ever justify to thrifty Other—who spends no money on anything ever—outfits that cost thousands of dollars?

In the end, I couldn’t do it. I think about the beautiful, elegant woman I saw in the mirror that day, and wish I could see her again. But I’m not sure I will.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two r's down, one to go

I’m haphazard at reduce-reuse-recycle. I go through the motions but have fall-through, particularly in the reduce arena.  But I just had a great flash in the reuse-recycle domain: Cut up old yoga mats into innersoles for your shoes. It would totally work. Right?

Two wrongs make a right

I’ve been smarting for several days because of a trivial snafu. On the last leg of my journey back from California, I got stuck in a subway turnstile with my luggage. I swiped my card twice to try to extricate myself. It didn’t work, and in the end the agent in the booth buzzed me through the emergency gate. He did not, however, return the extra fare I’d paid. It’s a small thing in the big scheme. After all, the subway was actually running just a few days after Hurricane Sandy shut the system down, and the lost fare amounted to only about $2. Still …

Then yesterday, I was rushing to work and got an “Insufficient Fare” reading as I tried to go through the turnstile with my pay-per-ride card. Sigh. I headed for the card machine, knowing it wouldn’t work—they never do—and that I’d have to go to a more distant station staffed by an agent. Suddenly, a young man stepped up and offered to swipe me through with his unlimited card. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. 

But it felt so good!