Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Yogi and OM in the Same Day

I just experienced a kind of an India day.

We just returned from a going away party for one of the finest yoga teachers in the area, and I spent the morning chanting OM with some friends.  It was a very uplifting, relaxing, rejuvenating day.

This afternoon, as I said was a going away party, for Michael.  A few minutes after we arrived I remarked to Carol that the people in the room did not fit the statistical norm for the US.  The percentage of overweight people in the US in 2014 was an astonishing 70.7%.  The population in the room would yield about 4% that may fall in the overweight category and even that is a stretch.  Seems to me  there's something to a regular yoga practice.

A bit over two years ago I wrote about chanting OM on a rainy day and since it was that long ago I feel justified in including it here:

OM, chanted as three syllables [Ah-oh-mm] that flow into each other through a single breath, is a way to calm one's thoughts, to relax, to facilitate meditation.  It is a private time, a time when the sonorous repetitive drone brings with it a defocusing, a soothing, of the mind and of the body.

When the chant is performed in a group, for an hour or more, something else happens.

My good friend, Dahlia, counselor, mediator, musician, and beautiful soul, leads a chant four times a year around the equinox and solstice - the times of transition when people tend to recognize their connection to the universe, if only for those brief periods.  I have participated in most of them, and each time I come away with the a sense of peace, of altered consciousness, of awareness of ME.

The thing about a group chant is the melding of voices, of people sitting, eyes closed, voices open, in a common simple intonation. Om, in its polysylabic rendition, is an unintended incantation.  As the chant progresses it changes from a simple repetition to a sea of sound.  As Dahlia begins the chant, her pure gold voice pulling us in, we initially follow, picking up her rhythms, but she changes, doesn't maintain a metronomic cadence, and soon we are in our own rhythms, each different by a beat or two. The result is an almost continuous sound, sometimes with just a few voices somewhat tentative to be alone, sometimes in a cacophony of discordant sounds, sometimes even in a harmonious crescendo that lifts each voice into the harmony of OM.

An hour passes so quickly that I can't believe we're done. In the chant, I have found distance from my all-to-present mortality to some other feeling - peace I think.  The acceptance, the okayness, of this rung in the ladder of my existence.  

It is as much of a treasure today as it was then.  On October 16th. Dahlia lost her mother, Hazel, a smart gentle soul who had reached 100 in July of this year.   The chant on her return from West Virginia had a special feeling for me, having known Hazel briefly before she moved.

What I intended this musing to be was a contented sigh celebrating a relaxing, rainy day.  I hope I didn't deviate too far from it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Terrible Cost of a Comma

And so we experience one more fusillade because of a comma.  How have we gotten here?  The founding fathers (you remember them, the guys that crafted a great but imperfect constitution for our fledgling country) were unable to anticipate: that we would have a standing army so that militias were unnecessary, that  weapons of today are not muzzle loaders but instead are capable of expelling many rounds of death in a very short time, and that an industry built on that capability would have found a way to place these weapons of death into the hands of sick individuals.

Welcome to our world.

I just read that modifying a semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15  to fully automatic is illegal (the implication is that it's not impossible) but there is a crank that one can legally purchase for $40.00 that will pull the trigger faster than a human.  Oh, by the way, I don't care if it was a Colt, Bushmaster, or whatever, the concept of being able to execute people faster than a human can pull the trigger holds, because all the device needs to do is pull said trigger.

Let me be clear about a couple of things in case any 2nd amendment folks are reading: I hunted as a young man, I owned weapons, I am a veteran of almost seven years active duty at which time I qualified expert at every annual test.  I know weapons.

Two truths come to mind immediately:

  • A weapon of the type mentioned above is not a hunter's tool, no hunter worth the name would use one.  As my father (a pre-WWII marine) often told me while he was teaching me to use and respect a weapon, "If you can't hit your target with one shot, you got no business shooting at it."  Other gems from this expert of experts (he shot  expert with the Marine rifle team at a 1,000 yard range without a scope. Try it sometime.)  "Treat every weapon you see or touch as if it was loaded." and "Never point a weapon at anything you don't intend to shoot."  
  • There is no courage in our elected officials to address the issue in any meaningful way.  Prayers, condolences, and other comments by them are self-serving meaningless gestures.  What must happen, and I have no idea how, is that the people of this country need a serious attitude adjustment.  There is no point other than intimidation in 'open carry' advocates carrying assault rifles or sidearms into a populated area.  There is no point other than money for companies to produce and sell them. There is no point, other than money and power, for a once-honorable organization that concentrated on gun safety. to lobby for the right to carry them.
The entire rationale surrounding this abomination is based on willfully ignoring a comma.  Words and their misinterpretation can clearly hurt one more than sticks and stones.