Ugly Face

Taken from Google Image search

Taken from Google Image search

As a Jnani and aspiring Jnanayogi, a significant part of my work is to recognize my ego in all its subtle forms. There are days when I’m on top of my game and not a thing slips by. And, as could be expected, there are days when I fall flat on my face, stand up, and fall flat on my face again. As frustrating as that can be, and as damaging as that can be to one’s confidence in his sadhana, in times like those I remind myself of the Bhagavad Gita’s message that no effort is wasted and no worship unaccepted.
Recently (Monday night) I really struggled.

You see, my Beloved takes FOREVER to do his laundry. Always. Without exception. I scramble to get all my clothing, our bed clothes, and towels all washed and dried before he attempts to start on his own because I know that once he starts it’ll take him – no joke – the better part of three whole days to complete the task. This is in part due to the enormous wardrobe he maintains and in part due to his inclination to sit in front of the television and lose track of time. Knowing this, and respecting it, I requested that my current favorite hoodie be tossed into the dryer with some of his wet clothing to kind of refresh it until I’ll once again have access to our machines. He obliged. Here’s where the drama enters.

I wrongly assumed that, once that load was done in the dryer, he would kindly hand my hoodie for me. A while later, he was in our laundry room switching loads and was in the process of pulling that same load from the dryer when I entered to tell him something funny I’d just seen on television. It was then that I noticed that not only had he neglected to kindly hang my hoodie for me, but the garment was piled upon itself on top of the dryer in front of him and becoming increasingly crumpled by the folded shirts he was beginning to pile on top of it.

And now Josh’s feelings are hurt.

I made a comment that he should have hanged it. I hanged it. And then I threw a small tantrum as I cut my story off, hastily collected my things and went upstairs – making sure he was aware of my displeasure. This is where it all gets somewhat messy. I always treat his things with high respect and take care so as not to damage them or do anything with/to them that he wouldn’t do or wouldn’t want done. This is the Golden Rule, right? It’s also being a good Hindu. You see, in the same way that nature should be greatly respected because it belongs to The One and indirectly represents that One, the items my Beloved owns and cares about are similarly (somewhat) representations of him. It’s like taking care of books you own because you love goddess Saraswati – books bring you knowledge, and in that way bring you to Her (or bring Her to you). To deface books, is to slap Her in the face. And so, because I would never slap my Beloved in his face, I care for his things without being asked.

So why doesn’t he automatically show the same care for my things – especially when he knows I’ll bitch big time when he doesn’t? Earlier that same night I’d discovered that when he placed baskets of dirty clothes on top of the washer, he’s pushed by gym bag off to a hard-to-access place behind the machine and left it there. The bag is now damaged, actually.

Part of me is hurt that he doesn’t automatically show me the same care that I show him with these things. A part of me expects to receive the same considerate care that I afford him – not because I hope for it in return for what I’ve given (that would obviously be attachment to karmaphala), but because that care should (in theory) be coming from him to begin with – at the same time I’m giving to him. Does that make sense? Whether you think that’s still karmaphala or not, that expectation or hope, rather, is still not an expression of love. The cynical part of me wonders if he’s doing that on purpose because I’d done something else to piss him off – pay back, right? I doubt that because he’s not a malicious person, generally.

Whenever this situation arises (and it has more than once over the last 9+ years we’ve been together), I experience LOTS of thoughts and emotions that would generally be considered unpleasant. Mind you, I don’t care about the hoodie, or the gym bag. I care that he cares – or that he doesn’t. Interestingly, as the years have passed I’ve developed the ability to realize I’m aware enough to be able to recognize these thoughts and emotions as “not me,” but I still feel less in control of them than I should be. I mean to say that I’m aware that I’m aware. This happens when I sleep, too, but that’s a whole other ball of yarn. If I were as much in control as I think I should be, if I were as aware as I think I should be, I would be able to circumvent this drama altogether. Oh the tumultuous bliss of being human!

It’s a strange experience to recognize this internal cyclone as something not yourself. Strange, but good. It gives that whirling energy an identity of its own – which I suppose it already had. After all, that energetic identity being mistaken for my real identity is part of the illusion/delusion of Maya.

So, what does all this mean? I’m not sure I know exactly. I feel like it means that I’m progressing, despite my occasional tantrums. I think it also means that these tantrums bring additional opportunity to be the witness – I’m still unable to manage the energy that manifests the tantrum to begin with, but I’m increasingly able to “disconnect” from that energy instead of being caught up or lost in it, as many people are. Hopefully, this means that I’m progressing toward increased mastery of those emotions, even if only indirectly. I’ll focus on what I perceive to be the silver lining with this, which is that a person less influenced by his emotions than he once was, is that much less reactive and proportionately more on top of his karmas in that context.

It’s awfully deep for a fit thrown over a hoodie, I’ll admit. But it’s increased wisdom, no less, and I’ll take that where I can get it.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


Smoker’s Cough

Last night, for the first time in just about forever, my beloved and I accompanied my best out to a gay club. We’re fond enough of pubs or restaurants, but clubs not so much. As we age, we increasingly appreciate being able to hear the conversations we’re having with the people at our table, the lack of drug culture, the lack of drama, etc… the difference between going to a club and just about anywhere else.

We were originally supposed to get dinner out with a math professor, but that fell through. So instead we visited newly-opened gay-owned men’s underwear shop located in the Broad Ripple section of our city before grabbing dinner at a place called English Ivy’s – a pub we enjoy from time to time.

As we were leaving dinner, we found ourselves stuck. We couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do. It was only about 20:30 (24hr time). Too late really to start a game night but pretty much also too early to simply call it quits. Naturally, we decided to go to The Unicorn, a male strip club. However, we only really wanted to go for the drinks. The last time any of us has been was looooong ago, and the talent was, well, untalented – to say the least! In fact, my memory of the only time I’d been was that of a nasty large-bellied old man putting a $1 bill in his mouth and then not-so-gracefully letting himself fall, arms open, backwards onto the stage and some scrawny, under-muscled, under-fed stripper boy going after the cash. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled for the idea of going there again, but we all agreed that we could be wallflowers in a place like that for cheap drinks. However, when we arrived there was, literally, one other car in the lot. We weren’t about to be the only ones there AND not support the staff. That idea went out the window when we decided to go to a gay club called Gregg’s/Our Place.

We got there before 21:00, and all club staff aside, there were only about ten other people. On all the flat screens around the place some sporting event was playing. Basketball? And in another room there was a euchre tournament taking place. The dart area was empty. So was the billiards area. We grabbed some drinks and a high top table and pretended to be really thirsty as more and more people arrived. After about an hour, the sports and card games stopped and instead loud dance music sucked up the air and the flat screens broadcasted scantily clad models on beaches. We kept drinking. The drinks really were SUPER cheap, and since we came so early we missed having to pay any kind of cover. Good times.

Since we never go out we didn’t know most people and most people didn’t know us. I like it that way, actually. Even in a city like Indianapolis, it doesn’t take much to get that small town feeling and for everyone to know your business. No thanks. Not to mention the eternally recirculating dramas. I’ll pass. It actually amazes me that anyone would go there expecting to meet anyone of substance or for anything other than superficial conversation or carnal pleasures. I can safely say that ANYWHERE is a better place to hunt for love than a club.

After a while we headed up to this loft area where we were able to “perch” and watch others down on the main floor. My best, having been a bar fly and still going to these places occasionally, was able to point out an amusing number of men, in one way or another. One would pass by and we’d hear, “He has a REAL nice penis.” Another would go by and it’d be, “That one is handsome and hung, but he’s into nasty stuff and doesn’t like wearing protection.” Once, about an obese old man sitting at the bar we were told, “I turned him down once and because I wasn’t interested he hunted me down on such-an’-such app and cussed me out.”

Soon enough we were ready to go and go we did. On our way home my beloved and I remarked to each other how nice it was to go to some place like that, that was smoke-free. In recent years, a city-wide smoke ban for public places was passed and it really has made a great difference.

That made me sad though. In a state where a very large number of people are smokers (a year or two ago I think I read it was something like a full third or a fourth of our population), we’re able to get a ban passed, preventing people from doing what they enjoy in places they specifically enjoy doing it in. Let me just re-iterate: a population with a huge smoking demographic passed a ban “negatively” affecting something many people actually want to do.

And yet, Indiana’s tiny -almost inconsequential- gay population remains denied the right to marry. A super small demographic, wanting to do something positive that would affect no one else, isn’t allowed to – if for no other reason than idiots think Jesus would hate it. How is it in a state of smokers a smoking ban can be passed, but the same place, where gays aren’t “bothering” anyone, remains discriminatory?

– SIGH –

Om Shanti

Small Town Deity, or God of the Bumpkins

three-wise-menVirtually every year, almost since I was born, my Christmas holiday season involved just about as much travel as it did actual family/fun time. We’re a little spread out, not bad though, and my birth parents divorced when I was very young still, so… this business became the norm for me early on.

Part of this yearly routine involves going to my father’s parents’ home on Christmas Eve where the rest of my extended family from that side would also convene. We had food and lots of it. Always a traditional Christmas show on TV. And, of course, lots of chatting with relatives I don’t see nearly often enough.

This year my beloved and I arrived a little earlier in the evening that usual. My laptop was on the fritz and a cousin had agreed to look at it for me. However, those plans began to fall through and instead we found ourselves at my parents’ home waiting for the time that everyone was due at my grandmother’s. After piddling around for some time we decided to head to my grandmother’s and, as it happened, we beat her to her home.

As we arrived and exited our car, my parents motioned me and Wayne to follow them as they walked up to the front door of my grandmother’s neighbor. This happens to be the home of a good friend of my father and his new wife.

I was instantly uncomfortable. Forgive me for not being okay marching up to, and into, someone’s home unannounced on a holiday. Maybe it was just because this wasn’t the home of my best. Maybe I’m just uptight. It’s hard to say. I was everything but thrilled to have followed my parents right then.  My spouse and I found ourselves awkwardly standing in front of these folks’ television, while brief introductions were made and then a whole lot of nothing happened. Of course, the friends of my parents didn’t act bothered in the least.

All of this aside, something happened that I’ve never seen before in my life. Ever. There wasn’t much room in the house to begin with, but even with a huge lack of free space the missing Christmas tree was conspicuous. These people had no Christmas tree! Aside from the homeless and the Bah-Humbugs, I’m not sure when the last time I encountered people who celebrated Christmas, but had no tree. Care to know why?

The wife is a Christian.

No joke. My parents just about immediately began joking, “Where’s your tree?!?!” The husband, my father’s friend, is the quintessential “small town Indiana man” that people like John Cougar Mellencamp sing about. Not exactly a redneck, not exactly a country man, not exactly educated –but a little of all of them. This man’s new wife went on to explain, very briefly, that she refused to have a Christmas tree because not long ago she’d learned that it was of pagan origination.

I’ll tell you right now, she gave her explanation with no regard to respecting the possibly diverse religious backgrounds of the numerous other people present –typical of the Christian variety. All religious arrogance aside, I should commend her for celebrating a “scriptural” Christmas.

Oh wait –there’s no such thing. Christmas isn’t in the Bible. Jesus’ birth? Yes. The holiday? Nope. Any command to actually celebrate the birth? Nada. Literally everything we know about the holiday, in fact, the holiday no matter what form it takes isn’t scriptural. And as this woman pointed out, the Christmas tree is no exception.

Every year I gag when I hear pitiful whines of evangelicals as they lament the ever-growing “war on Christmas.” As the Christmas season (perhaps) becomes less Christ-centric, it’s just becoming more and more of what it was originally: Not Christian. Truthfully, if the Christians want to re-establish Christmas, they should shift its celebration to April or August when Jesus was most likely, actually, born.

But whatever. Arrogance and all, it was actually – almost – refreshing that this woman was somehow more aware of what actually pertained to her religion… and what didn’t. She’s certainly rare among her breed.