Act 1: When the oak fell it was loud, really loud. Our conversation amidst the chard, Farmer Johnny and I, came to an immediate stop.
Oak trees suck up water in wet years. Lots of water. And if you give it a little thought, you realize that water is heavy. I notice how heavy water is every summer as I put 100 ounces in my Camelbak before a midday mountain bike ride. It’s like adding four pounds and five years to my legs.
The oak version of a Camelbak must add hundreds, thousands or quite possibly gazillions of pounds to the weight of the tree. And if the mighty oak is in a position to soak up tons of water, the ground must be saturated. Aristotle’s abc’s. Logic and Wetoric. Strong winds, soggy ground and top heavy trees are a recipe for change.
Act 2: It came to me during a guided meditation with a yogi that it might be useful to view our superego as a cartoon character. Our superego is the yapping pocket dog in our head that tells us the myriad of ways it judges us insufficient. It uses words like always, never, can’t, won’t. It’s probably most like Eyore, if Eyore did crack. It’s goal is to keep us mired in the mud in our lives.
The suggestion I made to the student was to try assigning the visage and voice of his chosen cartoonista to his ever vigilant ego villain. My sense was that if we are able to distance ourselves from this voice and begin to associate it with something unreal, fictitious and laughable we would begin to see how it roots us in the habits, beliefs and actions of our nitrogen depleted soul. We would be able to see it as the major impediment to our forward progress and happiness.
I tried it. I added “Suffering Succotash” to all of the nonsensical ramblings in the cartoon of my thinking mind. It works. “You’re an idiot” has less intensity and impact coming from Yosemite Sam. And it is much easier to dismiss something negative from a buffoon in a cartoon. The typically deflating “You’ll never”s” seemed more a challenge than an indictment.
Brahmancarya, one of the yogic Yama’s, is, in my definition, moderation. Some agree with me, like Rolf Gates. Others, Paramahansa Yogananda comes to mind, see it as sexual abstinence. Go Rolf!
Artha in yoga terms is one of the four aims of life. It is balance. If the oak had Artha it probably would have still been rooted in terra firma. If it had the strength of moderation, the flexibility to see the possibility of future rain and fluidity to take appropriate action, in this case non-action. It would be alive and well, balanced root to leaf.
I wonder at the oak’s ego. Was it directing it to oversuck? Was it’s superego telling it there would never be enough water, it might never rain again and it better ingest everything it could “RIGHT THIS MINUTE”? Did it believe it could only be safe if it was sodden?
My superego needs Brahmancarya and Artha. I need to moderate and balance my yapping pocket dog and my thirsty oak with the sense to know when enough is enough and when ‘never enough’ is way too much.
What I’m noticing is that as I am able to view my reactions dispassionately they become Sunday morning cartoonish. And I am realizing more and more quickly that I can change the channel.
That’s my yoga for today.