Laughing About It All

In the Evolutionary Collective, we have the opportunity to meet online several times a week. During part of our hour together, each of us is paired with another participant to do the mutual awakening practice. Today I was listening to a fellow from Florida who’s fairly new to the EC.

“Maury” kept saying all these very cool, outside-of-the-box things. My eyes continually widened, and I started laughing, over and over again. I knew I was supposed to keep silent as he spoke but I was too enthralled to keep my mouth closed. I was swept up into the celebration of his words, and my joy kept exploding with his. Deep belly laughs burst out of me. Lovely.

Right now, I’m trying to think of the stuff he said and I can’t remember a darned thing! And guess what? I’m laughing again. Oh, this is strange … and delightful. Why am I so happy with the forgetting of today’s moments?

Tonight I’m going to a meeting in London that probably will last till 11:00. Up until five minutes ago, my understanding was that freezing rain will start around 10:00, leaving me with a wild ride back to Belmont. Now AccuWeather says the downflow will begin in the wee hours. Still, when I thought that I’d be slip-sliding away on my return home, I began laughing again. I imagined my new friend Ruby floating into the ditch and getting banged up some … and still guffaws poured out. What kind of insanity is this? I can’t just laugh my way through all the trials and tribulations of life (can I?)

I’m reminded of “Dustin”, a Buddhist meditation teacher of mine from years ago. He told us yogis about a teacher of his. The very old guy had developed a terminal illness. Time was short. He gathered his students around him, including Dustin, and proceeded to tell them that he had maybe a week left. Sadness poured down over the group. And then the esteemed one began laughing uproariously … “Yes! Only a few more days!” Dustin was stunned, dumbfounded, and any other incredulous word you can think of. Woh … so am I.

***

So, my friends, shall we just chuckle our way through the journey?
Shall we be totally outrageous here?
Shall we drink deep of the mysterious elixir?
What do you say?

Brand New

I went to the regional track and field meet today, featuring excellent athletes from Grades 4 to 8. I loved watching the contorted faces, the blurred legs, the raised arms and the bowed heads. It was a spectacular day on the high school field and I wanted to see all the events. The high jump competition was in the gym so I went inside to watch the action. The athletes soared and my heart lifted with them. It was such a graceful movement, approaching the bar from the side and throwing themselves backwards up and over.

And I remembered. It wasn’t always this version of grace. When I was a kid, we’d face the bar and try to throw our lead leg over. And then something new happened:

Dick Fosbury took a moment to meditate as 80,000 people looked down at him from their seats in Mexico City’s Olympic stadium. The fans at the 1968 Olympic Games didn’t know it at the time, but they were about to witness not only the setting of an Olympic record, but the complete revolution of a sport.

Like most schools in the 1960s, the landing pit at Fosbury’s high school was made of wood chips and sawdust. Before his junior year, however, Fosbury’s high school became one of the first to install a foam landing pit and that gave him a crazy idea.

What if, instead of jumping the conventional way with his face toward the bar [the scissor kick], Dick Fosbury turned his body, arched his back, and went over the bar backwards while landing on his neck and shoulders?

***

How did the high jump community react to Dick’s innovation? Initially with criticism: We’ve been doing it this way for decades. How dare you turn your back on history? Dick was referred to as an “aberration”, as “the world’s laziest high jumper”, and was described as “a fish flopping in a boat”. None of that fazed him.

Consider … the Fosbury Flop, an upside-down and backward leap over a high bar, an outright—an outrageous!—perversion of acceptable methods of jumping over obstacles. An absolute departure in form and technique. It was an insult to suggest, after all these aeons, that there had been a better way to get over a barrier all along. And if there were, it ought to have come from a coach, a professor of kinesiology, a biomechanic, not an Oregon teenager of middling jumping ability. In an act of spontaneity, or maybe rebellion, he created a style unto itself.

***

So dear friends, are we up for a perversion or two, a leap into the outrageous? Are we willing to bring something new into the world, whether or not IQ tests have said we’re really smart, whether or not we have “academic credentials”, whether or not we’re young, old, male, female, outgoing, shy, black, white, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian … anything!?

Let’s do it.

Irrational Me

The script for the play Jake’s Women came in the mail today.  I sat down and read the whole 99 pages.  Is this obsession?  Maybe some other version of pathology?  I don’t know.  But I want to be Jake.  It’s the story of a writer and the six women in his life – his dead wife Julie, his daughter Molly, his present wife Maggie, his sister Karen, his potential girlfriend Sheila and his therapist Edith.  Jake is loving, tortured and unstable.  I can do this.

The play will run in St. Thomas in February, 2016.  Auditions will probably be in December.  So why is my tongue hanging out now?  Unknown.  After I finished my read this afternoon, Jody said, “It’s you, Bruce.  Go for it.”

Julie died years ago in a car accident.  Molly was eleven at the time.  Julie’s spirit visits Jake and wants to come again on her birthday – October 12 – to get to know Molly as a young adult.  October 12 is Jody’s birthday.  I just stared at page 47 when the date was revealed.  Oh my.  What’s at work here?

At the end of Act 1, Maggie is walking out on Jake, wanting a six-month separation.  Two Mollies (ages 12 and 21) appear to Jake and sit next to him on the couch.  He holds their hands as the three of them sit together in silence.  I cried.  Jody and I decided not to have kids, and in the many years since I’ve often wished I had a daughter.  So will I have one, for the two months of rehearsals and performances?

My brain is skewed.  It must be, for I’ve decided to start memorizing Jake’s lines in the play.  There are lots of them.  Who’s to say I’ll even get the part?  And you know, it doesn’t matter.  There’s something magical about the possibility that I’ll have learned every word dear Jake says and never perform it onstage.  I would be fine with that … really.

So I begin with the first paragraph, smiling and shaking my head.  What kind of human being have I become?  Time will tell.