YOGA FOR KNUCKLEHEADS #4: "HUMILITY & EASE"
BY DELL FRANKLIN
There have been subtle signs of my humbling and feeling more at ease in general since starting yoga a month or so ago, one of which is of late not losing my temper during stressful situations, like preparing the evening meal for myself and the dog at the same time in a tiny kitchen with little room to maneuver on a tiny countertop congested with microwave, electric can opener, blender, coffee maker, dish rack, fruit bowls, and various indispensable debris. When things get tense, especially when I’m ducking in and out of my kitchen to catch glimpses of football, baseball or basketball game on the TV in the tiny front room, I often find myself fumbling and dropping items and losing my cool and cursing wildly and hurling utensils into the sink or on the floor. And when I drop a container of greasy or sticky substance, my rages are so powerfully inhuman, my poor 90-pound chocolate Lab Wilbur cringes and skulks out of the kitchen and I have to mollify him with apologies and pets before getting down on my hands and knees and cleaning up the filthy mess which usually ruins my dinner for one but not his.
These torrential temper tantrums can erupt over the smallest inconvenience or setback and have gone on for over seven decades and showed no sign of abating until lately, and my reasoning is that yoga teaches a subtle inner humility and easing of temperament that tames a person’s uncontrollable temper, which mother always told me stemmed from a LACK of humility, even though as her son she never outwardly accused me of not being a humble person, which, looking back, I am certainly not. People in my past and now (my woman) who have argued with me or competed against me in sports swear I am not even close to humble, but most of these people have not engaged me since I started yoga.
Yeh, today, they might whistle a different tune.
Am I a changed man? Well, I’m not sure, but since taking Yoga, only once have I come close to going ape-shit in my kitchen, and I have suffered not a few fumbles, drops and culinary setbacks, and even the one time I lost it I caught myself halfway through and only tossed a spatula in my sink with a kind of half-hearted effort and quickly adjusted to the situation, much calmer and patient, and Wilbur started to cower but stopped when he realized I was now in control and not oozing toxic anger.
Another example of my new found humility and ease is a once-a-year tortuous 6 hour car trip I took of 262 miles to Huntington Beach on a Friday morning and afternoon 2 weeks ago for a reunion of the old Pacific Coast League that my dad played in when I was a small boy back in the early 1950s. Usually, when I transition to the 405 from the 101 or 10, there is a wait, a traffic jam, and madness induced upon me by lunatic LA drivers cutting in on you or swerving into your lane in an intimidation maneuver not seen on the Central Coast. Generally I tense, grind my teeth and finally begin raging and froth at the mouth; the longer the tie-up or closer the near collision, the more vicious my rage and savage my cursing. I unleash primal screams and punch the steering wheel and dash, my dog aroused from his slumber in back.
But this time, tie-up after tie-up, close call after close call, I remained calm, my heartbeat increasing a might, yes, but otherwise I forced myself to think pleasant thoughts, and be calm and hark to inner peace and good things to come at the end of my destination, and not once did I go ape-shit, not even when I needed badly to piss from LAX on, and all during tie-ups at the 610 and 710 and every exit, until traffic finally cleared and I reached my exit in Huntington Beach and rushed in to take my awesomely exhilarating relief at a Del Taco.
Clearly, something had changed, and I sort of shocked myself, realizing lifetime bouts of inner turmoil and anger was receding! This is an alien feeling to me and I’m not sure I’m capable of grappling with it, as I’m used to thriving on anger and turmoil and in the past rages have alleviated tenseness and whatever was eating at me consciously or subconsciously, and the aftermath usually involved a sort of soothing endorphin rush.
Now, to be mostly mellow and unhurried and generally infused with a feeling of benevolence toward my peers, the world, and even myself, is indeed alien! It is almost as if I have lost control of my past self and established a brand new identity of infinite tolerance and self-control, a person less apt to become opinionated, contentious, stubborn, forceful and even intimidating in his daily dealings, but instead patient, neutral, passive, understanding and, yes, harmless!
Am I indeed a changed man? Jesus, I hope not. Being an uninhibited mad-dog and profane carouser and psycho competitor have fueled me for years and established a personality that has embroiled me in the kind of trouble I have enjoyed thoroughly and accept as vital to my very breath. I do NOT want to give up controversy and bedlam, much of it concocted by myself. I am not and have seldom been unhappy, except when I lose a pet or a friend or close relative.
So I best be careful with this yoga business and not become so steeped in it and end up one of these intolerably serene Zen victims, like a zombie on drugs, thinking he has the answer when he’s just another damn fool trying to stuff something meaningful and justifiable into his feeble existence.
I’m on guard.