Damien Rice homage to Leonard Cohen
Damien Rice homage to Leonard Cohen
This powerful piece about the Unnecessariat describing an out-of-view America and explaining how Trump happened. I was surprised, given that I come from a different background and reality to find that I resonated with this part:
“To know that nothing more is expected of you, or your children, or of your children’s children, than to fade away quietly”
I have written before about how, during my last years living in Israel, the conversation about lack of money in my life transformed into a lack of relevancy. I became more concerned with not being relevant or needed in my society, then about not being able to extract money from it. I came to Romania to create space between myself and that question … to gain perspective. I found some relevancy here … it is both precious and fragile.
“… The number of overdoses in 2014? 47,055 of which at least 29,467 are attributable to opiates … families are being “hollowed out” with elders raising grandchildren, the intervening generation lost before their time … neighborhoods are collapsing into the demands of dying, or of caring for the dying.
… Suicide is up as well. The two go together: some people commit suicide by overdose, and conversely addiction is a miserable experience that leads many addicts to end it rather than continue to be the people they recognize they’ve become to family and friends … Both suicide and addiction speak to a larger question of despair. Despair, loneliness, and a search, either temporarily or permanently, for a way out.
… Its no secret that I live right smack in the middle of all this, in the rusted-out part of the American midwest. My county is on both maps: rural, broke, disconsolated. Before it was heroin it was oxycontin, and before it was oxycontin it was meth. Death, and overdose death in particular, are how things go here.
… And yet this isn’t seen as a crisis, except by statisticians and public health workers.
… In 2011, economist Guy Standing coined the term “precariat” to refer to workers whose jobs were insecure, underpaid, and mobile … The term found favor in the Occupy movement, and was colloquially expanded to include … unpaid interns, adjunct faculty, etc. Looking back from 2016, one pertinent characteristic seems obvious: no matter how tenuous, the precariat had jobs. The new dying Americans, the ones killing themselves on purpose or with drugs, don’t. Don’t, won’t, and know it.
… Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary.
… Utopians on the coasts occasionally feel obliged to dream up some scheme whereby the unnecessariat become useful again, but its crap and nobody ever holds them to it … what if Sanders (or your political savior of choice) had won? Would that fix the Ohio river valley? Would it bring back Youngstown Sheet and Tube, or something comparable that could pay off a mortgage? Would it end the drug game in Appalachia, New England, and the Great Plains? Would it call back the economic viability of small farms in Illinois, of ranching in Oklahoma and Kansas? Would it make a hardware store viable again in Iowa, or a bookstore in Nevada? Who even bothers to pretend anymore?
Well, I suppose you might. You’re probably reading this thinking: “I wouldn’t live like that.” Maybe you’re thinking “I wouldn’t overdose” or “I wouldn’t try heroin,” … This isn’t the first time someone’s felt this way about the dying. In fact, many of the unnecessariat agree with you and blame themselves- that’s why they’re shooting drugs and not dynamiting the Google Barge … You’ll get there too.
If I still don’t have your attention, consider this: county by county, where life expectancy is dropping survivors are voting for Trump.
What does it mean, to see the world’s narrative retreat into the distance? To know that nothing more is expected of you, or your children, or of your children’s children, than to fade away quietly and let some other heroes take their place? One thing it means is: if someone says something about it publicly, you’re sure as hell going to perk up and listen.”
via Sam Muirhead
This reflection is long overdue … but my writing motivation is still low and my ability to do so fragile … I hope I can recall some of the subtleties that appeared along the way.
My allergy period this year ended somewhere around mid-July. It lasted slightly less then two months. It was overall easier, but I don’t feel it was due to internal circumstances. I do feel that is mostly due to numerous early frosts that destroyed much of the spring flowers which resulted in less pollen in the air.
I tried, during the allergy period, to stay in touch with practice but it was a futile attempt. With breathing at the heart of practice and my breathing severely compromised practice is difficult to access. Attempting to stay with it formed an additional layer of aggravation due to the instability of practice itself. Letting practice go was a practical decision, not a deeply conscious one.
However at one point I realized that I lost not just the practice but also the wanting to practice. That brought with it a subtle anxiety. One of the things I experienced in the period of practice prior to the allergy period was that the practice was somehow embracing, holding me. I had a very stable period of practice that came with little effort. Now that was gone, and I was afraid that it wouldn’t come back. My fear was “confirmed” when my allergy got slightly better and I tried to get on the mat (maybe too soon) and again met heaviness, friction and instability. Once I WAS able to practice, I, to my surprise and relief, fell quickly back into the embrace of practice.
When I resumed practice I resumed the same practice I was doing before the allergy period … and physically it was fine. But when it came to my pranayama, I was exhausted and could not tap into my breathing capacity.
So I started an experiment, that to some extent, is still ongoing. I starting tuning my practice into a more cikitsa version. It took a few days of transformations .. and with every transformation (reduction and softening) in the asana sequence I found a growing space for re-inhabiting my breath. Over a few days the breath developed: just ujjayi breathing allowing the breath to expand, re-introducing holds, resuming pratiloma with less holds and less repeats and within a few days I was back to my full pratiloma practice.
Over the first month of steady practice I got reestablished in the breath and gradually re-introduced modifications that brought me closer to my full asana practice. At that point I started to feel a sense of vitality again. I experienced a feeling of lightness in my practice. I distinctly recall the feeling of coming up from various forward bends with a sense of a strong center and a lighter body … as if I was lifting up less weight … a lighter version of me.
At least a couple of times during this period where I had a distinct experiences of energy in my core (abdominal area) as a foundation for … well … almost everything I am and do with my body.
A prominent experience was while working on the earthbag cellar. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out (I was in a healing cycle), but the weather was nice and I wanted to give it a try. I attempted to lift something (with some substantial weight, bot not too heavy, and not something I hadn’t lifted many times before) … and it required much more effort than usual.
As I observed this and a some following movements I realized that I felt weak in my center. I wasn’t able to activate my abdominal muscles. I didn’t have a feeling of grounded center from which I could move, extend or leverage. I rely mostly on my center for strength and stability, I am not a very athletic or physically large or strong. With the center gone, I had to rely on my peripheral muscles … and that gets tiring fast. And even though I can get away with it for a while, the quality of movement is lesser … less precise, less reliable, less stable, less enjoyable. Within a couple of minutes I realized, acknowledged and communicated that I was not up for working.
The initial experience of lack of core energy became a fascinating reference point for experiencing its recovery. I could witness, almost every day, a slight improvement. It is in everything … in standing and walking … in a sense of stability … vitality. I witnessed life and strength return to my abdominal area. The change was so drastic that it was clearly not a biological change. I don’t think it was (is)possible for me lose or gain muscle mass or flexibility in such a short period of time. It felt much more like an energetic shift.
It was refreshing and empowering to go back out after a few days and feel … centered and vital again. Losing it was an invaluable experience to appreciating it.
I have taken up this post after another few weeks of delay since I wrote the initial part … and that is the essence of “life again”. This has not been a period of “life throws things at me” but rather me inviting things into my life. The overall experience has been a sense of depletion. But not deep depletion. Rather cycles of depletion during which I take something in and incorporating it, digesting it, consumes enough of my energy to leave me in a disturbed state. A state I felt a need to recover from … sometimes with clear physical signs of illness, sometimes with only subtle physical signs, sometimes with an emotional fuzziness … in all cases reduced clarity.
I am now exiting a period of sickness . Together with the intensive 5 day event (Nyeleni) which I attended, that may become another three week period without on-the-mat practice. Though my energy may support a soft practice, my breathing (blocked, broken and limited) does not leave me space for an engaging practice. Attempting to practice in this way creates more friction then flow.
I am also heading (hopefully!) into a period with few distractions. I feel a turning inwards as winter sets in. Starting to settle into a raily routine with more time indoors, regular lighting and feeding of the stoves. I am looking forward to reconnecting with a regular and inward moving practice.
Something is happening to the ground beneath our feet:
… and I wonder … how does a major shift effect in electrcomagnetic fields effect our physical body, our consciousness? … and is there an effect in the opposite direction … can our state of being effect the sun’s activity?
this excerpt felt more promising when I started reading the article, but I found no satisfaction … except for the trigger point … I feel that, though we may collectively feel we know what’s going on, that it is now how I feel … I feel that we are in an era in which everything is up for grabs … money, law, country, science, society, relationship … there is a more comprehensible list somewhere inside me but I don’t feel like formulating it.
I was also amused by how “scientists struggle to understand how consciousness arises from matter” … that question is valid in a world where matter does not have consciousness … if you change that assumption the question goes away 🙂
“Eras in which everything is up for grabs are very rare, and they seem to be highly productive for philosophy. As Gottlieb points out, much of the Western philosophy that still matters to us is the product of just two such eras: Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries A.D.
It is hard for us to comprehend how totally Western consciousness was transformed during the second of these two periods, precisely because we live in its aftermath. In just a few generations preceding it, every fixed point that had oriented the world for thousands of years began to wobble. The discovery of America destroyed established geography, the Reformation destroyed the established Church, and astronomy destroyed the established cosmos. Everything that educated people believed about reality turned out to be an error or, worse, a lie. It’s impossible to imagine what, if anything, could produce a comparable effect on us today. Even the discovery of alien life in the universe wouldn’t do it, since we have long learned to expect such a discovery, whereas medieval Europeans could never have anticipated the existence of America, or of electricity.
Philosophers are people who, for some reason—Plato called it the sense of wonder—feel compelled to make the obvious strange. When they try to communicate that basic, pervasive strangeness or wonder to other people, they usually find that the other people don’t like it. Sometimes, as with Socrates, they like it so little that they put the philosopher to death. More often, however, they just ignore him.
… Even today, cognitive scientists struggle to understand how consciousness arises from matter, though few doubt that it does.
… One of the most popular names for the unexplainable is God: God is how we answer questions about creation and purpose that we can’t answer in any other way. Certainly, both Descartes and Leibniz relied on God to balance the equation of the universe. Without him, they believed, the world did not make sense. The philosophers’ God was not necessarily identical to the God of Christianity, but he had some reassuringly familiar attributes, such as beneficence and providential oversight of the world.
… Spinoza made God so crucial to the world that the distinction between the two collapsed. There could not be two substances in the universe, Spinoza argued, one physical and the other divine, since this involved a logical contradiction. If God and Nature were distinct, then it must be the case that Nature had some qualities that God lacked, and the idea of a supreme being lacking anything was incoherent. It follows that God and Nature are just two names for the same thing, the Being that comprises everything that ever existed or ever will exist.“