How many conventional things can one person do and still retain an original streak of thinking? I was going to say “original mind” but that sounds too grand. I’m a demographic as much as I am an individual: woman, mother, wife, American, Easterner, academic. My mediocrity stuns me. My ordinariness is an object of fascination. (To me, that is, and my self-interest itself is an ordinary preoccupation.) Do I possess a shred of individual will? The preachers will say it’s predetermined but I can choose good or evil; the scientists will say I’m hard-wired and it’s all genetic or environmental; the literary scholars will say the culture birthed my mind and everything I write (they like to think that writers just burp out an articulation of the zeitgeist rather than actually being creative). Yet I retain the illusion of a distinctive self, a snowflake of a mind.
So, yeah, I do yoga like the other millions.
My first yoga class was in highschool, and it definitely beat volleyball. I could wear dance leggings and a t-shirt and lie on a mat in the dark. I could contemplate the yoga teacher’s personal journey that had led her to this room of sarcastic teenaged girls, and questions of the universe like why people become magicians.
I go to one yoga class where my wonderful teacher has us make intentions for our practice, and say Omm at the end. I go to another yoga class where my wonderful teacher tells us how the body works, and brings out a two-foot-tall skeleton to demonstrate how the poses move our joints. I like both these classes, the spiritual and the physiological. I like when Julie picks up her skeleton prop and carries it to the center of the room to shows us how turning the thighbones opens the lower back. And I like when Lynn tells us to make our hands into a diamond shape and lay them on our pelvises to send the negative energy out of our bodies. I love systems of meaning.
Along with yoga, I have done so many other conventional things! Like blogging! And writing screenplays! And being sent to a mental hospital and then going to grad school for poetry! (I think it was a prereq for the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in the ’80s.) And marrying a man, and having kids, and living in a two-story brick house. Drinking chardonnay in the winter and sauvignon blanc in the summer. Planting mums. Talking about the weather. Coloring my hair. Wearing a Timex. Liking France, and Spain. Thank god I didn’t drive a car between the ages of 20 and 35 or I would have not one eccentricity to console myself with!