Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Without a doubt, one of the all-time best scenes from a movie, ever. That scene in The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya tells Vizzini that he might want to think of a different word to use for all these improbable/unlikely events that plague them during their kidnapping of Princess Buttercup...
But I digress.

One of the results of my yoga practice, as I stated in an earlier blog, is that I'm starting to re-think the way Americans live their lives. Actually, I've always questioned the way Americans live their lives, since my first job at the South Orange Shop-Rite as a cashier back in 1991. But this is the first time that I'm starting to think that maybe I'm right in my suspicions that there just might be a better way...

I was talking to a friend the other day about some troubling news they had received about their job. He was concerned that recent changes in the company for which he works might lead to him being laid off, and, as he put, the loss of the "lifestyle" that he had grown accustomed to enjoying.

Now, this lifestyle isn't lavish, by any means. Comfortable, yes - a nice car, a good school for his kids, a nice house.

But along with all those things he has this underlying fear of what would happen if he loses his job. He automatically assumes that the loss of his job means the loss of everything else that he now enjoys. He thinks that if he loses his job, it means that the first thing he has to do is start grocery shopping at the local discount supermarket. (You know the one I mean - where they were caught selling imported Chinese horsemeat labeled as beef a few years ago.)

So, I started thinking about this. Thinking about my yoga practice, about staying in the moment, because life DOES change in a second. And why can't we just enjoy things when they are pleasant without worrying about what will happen in the future?

His fears may be completely unfounded. He may not lose his job. But he may. And if he does, what's the worst that will happen? He's smart. He's resourceful. He's been laid off before, and he and his spouse survived. Things change, he may have to give up that lifestyle that he's grown so fond of, but that's life. Things change.

And then the other question I started thinking about was, why do we all feel it necessary to play this game, anyway?

You know the game I'm talking about: take out enormous loans to go to college so you can try to find a job to pay back your loans so you can take out more loans to buy a house and a car so you can take out more loans to send your kids to college and spend your whole life working at a job you don't really enjoy and stress yourself out to the point of sickness but hey at least you had a nice house and a nice car and not much else.

There has GOT to be a better way.

I've never been fond of the "work your life away and play on the weekends" kind of lifestyle that we have in the United States. There is far too little time to play and rest, and an eight (or nine or ten) hour workday means that most of us sacrifice habits that are good for us in order to earn money to do all those things I mentioned in the run-on sentence above.

We have no time to socialize with friends and family. I read FB updates from my friends with kids who spend so much time commuting to work, working, and then commuting home that they barely see their children during the week. That can't be healthy for parent OR child.

Then we have so little time at home to do the things that need to be done like cleaning and cooking and just relaxing that we buy pre-packaged overly processed foods that aren't very good for our health.

Isn't it about time that someone starts a revolution? 

Did you know that the original yogis, thousands of years ago, were believed to be the rebels? The nonconformists? They were the ones who questioned the status quo of the time. When someone is referred to as a "spiritual warrior", they are actually being described as "one who is brave". 

So I would say to my friend, if you're reading this, slow down. Breathe. The things that you think are so important right now may not be as important as you think they are. And for the things that you discover are truly important, well, your life will change so that you can make room for those things when you lose everything else. 

Be a rebel. Be brave. Do yoga, on and off the mat.

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