The fear of being ordinary.

Have you ever felt a fear of being ordinary?

What does it mean to be extraordinary? To leave a legacy? To be to prettiest, smartest or richest person in the room? Does this narcissism make us better people, or like Mena Suvari in American Beauty, does it make us more pathetic?

We all have a fear of death without legacy. This fear is lessened when we have children, mature and grow our roots. However, long before families, grocery bills and routines, the fear of being ordinary thrives in the heart of anyone old enough to have braces.

I just got my first full-time 1-year contract at the Discovery Channel. This is a huge deal for me: a really cool gig, with great people and I learn new things everyday! But for the first time in my freelancing career my contract spans beyond “months” into the “year” measurement – gulp. How will I sustain my serendipitous travels and poetic lifestyle? How can I work for a huge corporation and still pride myself on bohemia (the fantasy in my head)?

The fear of being ordinary is tied to our internal storytelling tendencies (the fantasy in my head). We are constantly telling stories of who we should be, the life we should lead, the grand parties, travels, friends or fluffy pets with stupid pet accessories (not cool!). Always looking to fulfill these grand roles of living “happily ever after” or “to the max” or “with no regrets” may sound like awesome fairytale endings, but can be so contrived.

What role should you play?
Ram Das said: Be a soul, not a role.

In Sanskrit the terms chitta (mind-field/psyche) and vritti (waves) are used to describe the fluctuations of our mind. These thought patterns divide perceived subject from perceived objects – they create our ego, and fragment us into stories. We place ourselves in/around stories by judging where we (subject) stand among outside objects – are we losing, are we winning, are we too late? This self-judgment is called vikalpa. The Sanskrit term vikalpa can help explain the unenlightened mind: the struggle of self (ego/story) and reality (or perceived reality) leads to attachment of desires that mess up True perspective. That is, THINGS AS THEY ARE (simply as they are = nothing really, just things made of stuff given meanings projected by us).

I could go on about things made of stuff given meanings projected by us… but I won’t.

This year I will give myself time to take time. I will awake myself from romantic tales of myself. I will practice living in the moment, seeing things as they are (as they are, nothing really). I will embrace my passion, but not get lost in my ego and tales of my growth or self-worth. I will let my mind wave and fluctuate without judgment! I will tell stories for entertainment, but laugh with reality.

Sunday is the start of the Jewish New Year. So, how appropriate for me to accept my
1-year of stable work (both professionally and personally acceptance takes practice). So here I drink in a breath to 1-year of finding magnificent in the mundane. 1-year without running away to chase a good story (unless the job calls for it).

A great yoga teacher of mine sent me an email this week. It was signed, “there is no finish line. Enjoy the journey.”

Bless You all as Summer Turns to Fall. Dance with the science of contraction and expansion. That universal dance will always be extraordinary!

 

Love in the Flow,

Lauryn Elan Z   : )

 

 

 

U-Guru

This week has been really HEAVY (especially since I didn’t work Monday) – a lot has happened in four days. Both in work and play I feel ready to turn to the next page. When feeling “stuck” I itch to travel. Though, I just did a three week American road trip and flew to Montreal last weekend for Osheaga music festival, already I am checking out flight deals to Miami!

Waiting in court this morning (yes, I pleaded guilty on a traffic offence and they dropped my charges by more than half!), I found myself using another form of escapism – I was reading romantic poetry. Like any curious homosapien, I look to words of those who inspire me for refuge – Rumi, Hafiz, Shiva Rea, Kerouac, Ram Das, and My Mom (of course, I could go on). One thing all these brilliant leaders keep reflecting back at me is to stop looking outside myself for answers.

Rumi says, “O pure people who wander the world, amazed at the idols you see, what are you searching for out there, if you look within, you yourself are it”. 

This makes someone as self-indulgent as myself grin with pride. But also makes me think…
-a human being can pick up only 1 billionth of all there is to percept in a space at one time
-we are therefore, in a way, choosing what we perceive
-we are recycling our perceptions of “what is” by constantly projecting inner feelings outward  
-we suffer because feeling/awareness itself is based in cravings (food, lovers, money), things we identify as leading to “happiness” or “satisfaction”
-you don’t need to read Descartes to know your perceptions can deceive you
-feeling and perceptions lay inside of us, but they trigger us to react and create our external reality

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s truly physical. But, when you feel suffering inside of you and you look outside of yourself for answers, you are playing into the notion that you are incomplete. The fixation we have with “outside things” is an epidemic in our society. When we let outside things trigger our inner self we suffer – and vice versa. Yet “suffering” is only a feeling, or a spirit, which is passing through the vessel of our Self.

One word: TRUST.
Trust that you are your best teacher. You know yourself better than anyone else. If only we looked inside ourselves as much as we fixated on other people or things – we would feel much more whole and complete.
YOU ARE YOUR GURU.
And as always, here is a poem from Me-Guru-to-U-Guru:

As breath pours
Nectar of Life
Down the spine
Awaken vertebrae
Touch is Kind
Children born
With loving eyes
Pulse is Truth
We are all Divine
As Divine a flea
As Divine my Guru-
OM-
That, which, is She
That, which, I am
That!

Namaste,

Lauryn Elan Z xox

lauryn in apartment

 

Summertime Travels

Now that July has graced us with her Sun, many of us will be booking time off this summer to travel. Here is a poem I wrote while traveling South East Asia. Being a tourist in third world nations really makes me question the objectification of the exotic “Other”. It is not only the foreign landscapes, architecture or consumer goods that make traveling interesting – it is also the foreign faces.

 

THE STRUGGLE TO MEAN(S)

Take a Seat in the Theatre-of-the-Absurd
(10 Cents to Watch the Dance of Cognitive Dissonance)

I sit in a theatre-of-the-absurd
Where role-playing is a way of life
For our money
In cumbersome costume
In a cage
Built themselves
By-hand
Evoking our sympathy
Our money

The Search For Meaning:

Tourists pile off air-conditioned buses
Clutching purses in premature panic

Expectation: find meaning in what they lack:
Authenticity:
An assumption rooted in our ignorance
I sigh

Exotic difference must be easy-to-read: authentic but accessible
“It is a doomed search for meaning” O’Rourke said sadly

I sit in a theatre-of-the-absurd
Where meaning lies in the meaningless

I-not exempt from the tour of cognitive dissonance

My hands write in search of enlightenment
—embedded nails bitten but see no stress—
My hands reach into my pockets
—coins jingle like loose shrapnel—
Hands searching for what they owe…

The Fair Trade Game:

I pay her less than two dollars
Her tired eyes half-satisfied
Her weathered hands take the crumpled bills
My guilty eyes twinkle with satisfaction
My eager hands take the rice-paper painting

This is fair trade

It is an authentic piece of art
Buddha hand-sketched in charcoal
Painted over in Christmas reds and greens
I show the circle of teenagers lazy on the grass
Leaning on backpacks

Cool we laugh

I bought hand-sewn silk pants
For less than the cost of specialty coffee
I wear them real low
So you can see my pelvic bone
So I look effectively sloppy

I walk down the sewage stained streets
With an air of white-authority
I smile at whistles of leather-faced drivers
Of motorbike taxis
I take a photograph of a three-legged dog

To me three is odd

It’s an airless grey day humid and heavy
Like most other days here
The smell of rotting cow-carcass at high noon
And noodle soup made with rainwater
Mingle in the air

The Products Of (In)Difference:

I buy a can of Coca-Cola light
Because they do not call it Diet
I don’t ever buy drinks not bottled or boiled
Always use a straw
I consciously try not to gulp

So I can learn to savour

I pay a street vendor for a slice of pineapple
Hands guide the dull knife
Acidity stings the cracks at the corners of my lips
Juices rumble in the caverns of my belly
I follow the directions my guesthouse gave me

I pay a man sitting on a stool to let me climb a mountain

The mountain has stairs
A spine curling up its massive body
Carved out of the rock
Hands holding chisels
Leave impressions that look like acid rain drops

Children pepper the steps begging me to buy postcards
Miss Madame—buy this—Miss buy this

I squat down and point my camera lens up
To take a picture of trees with trunks so thick leaves so lush
And the children crowd me
Unripe hands reach out free of humiliation
Confused why I won’t pay ten cents for a postcard

With all the money I got
They wonder why I came this far

The Path To Enlightenment:

Do not look directly into their eyes
Do not acknowledge their extended hands
It’s this act of cognitive dissonance
It’s this way we can go home again
And pay for specialty coffee

I am loyal to this act of cognitive dissonance—with no need for justification…

I find pleasure just looking at the sky (see: loyalty to cognitive dissonance)
Here the night sky wears rings of gold
On its seductive black hands
Glowing stars mock the endless dark
Blinking like beautiful eyelashes

I stare content at the sky—
Dogs bark at that sky

Peasants cry to that sky for rain

I photograph them—
Bang! Bang!

I steal their souls
To show my friends

The Agreeable Grin:

Coffee comes half-filled with condensed milk
Pushcarts don’t serve Sweet n’ Low
Before sunrise people sit piled on the sidewalk
I sit with them—knees to my chest
Balmy hands around a glass mug

We sip our coffees—savouring

Men suck tobacco from bamboo water pipes
They cough black smoke through decaying teeth
In circles they sit—laughing—clapping calloused hands
In circles they sit picking dirty toenails
In circles they sit around a single bowl of rice

Sharing it bare-hands make it last all night

I buy a pastry and bite in hungry
It ejaculates sweet green custard too sweet and too green
Washing it down with gulps of sugary-condensed-milk-coffee
I am left with sticky hands gurgling belly top-of-mouth layered in filmy candy
I watch a pair of women beside me lick long fingers with wet tongues

What if one day I could live here
I could make handicrafts—sell them on the street
Marry a fire-thrower
Buy a mansion on the sea for the cost of a Fisher Price jeep
I would want to

In pencil I sketch the wrinkled woman on the cracked plastic stool across from me
I smile she does not smile back
This is one exchange she is not willing to accept
Hands folded in her lap
She knows what I want and will not give me that:

Agreeable grin

The Dance Of Cognitive Dissonance:

The women work too much
Who am I to judge
They barter they cook they sew they nurse they wash
The men work too hard
Who am I to say
They haul wooden barrels and roll wheelbarrows

Across the unpaved land you can see it in their hands

Hands with thinning skin bulge veins so stressed
Hands reaching out crusted with earth but empty
Hands like mine just hackneyed
Except I have pockets full of money and my hands reach into them
Buried in the denim lining my hands embarrassed of their innocence

I sit in a theatre-of-the-absurd
Where meaning is found in the struggle to mean(s)

I slide my coins into the machine
One
By
One
They
Get
Up
And
Dance
Mechanically
Stoic
Faces
Hopping
Hopefully
Marionettes held by strings

I sit in a theatre-of-the absurd
And it makes me want to stand

 

LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Thanks for reading.

Lauryn Elan Z xo