The Continuing Adventures of Eco Boy vs. Yoga Girl.
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“Yoga isn’t a lifestyle. Meditation isn’t spiritual. These are tools to wake up—no matter how tired you are—and live life fully, simply, freshly, directly, honestly, straightforwardly, with integrity.
That’s it. Respect your tools.”
~ Dr. Willard Evans
Crashing Yoga Girl’s favorite yoga class was probably a bad idea from the start.
But Eco Boy was a big idiot, and in his brokenheartedness he did silly, infantile things.
Eco Boy had had the genius idea to bring Portlandia Kiwi to class with him so as to make Yoga Girl jealous and miss him and then Yoga Girl would feel bad and somehow that would make him feel better, or maybe they’d get back together and love each other for real this time.
He knew Yoga Girl would be there, of course—it was her favorite teacher, Famous Yoga Star—a too-thin statuesque former model with dark bangs who was best known for her nude, but tasteful and arty yoga ads of her sitting in the middle of Times Square, and her weekly yoga videos where she talked about how to cook vegan this or kimchi that or gluten-free whatever.
Famous Yoga Star had followed the 10 steps to becoming a yoga celebrity, a handy guide penned by one Waylon H. Lewis, the charming, good-looking and yet somehow humble founder of a big yoga and eco web site that
seemed to feature tacky stock photos of pinteresty couples kissing every other day. In reality, Yoga Star could have written the “how to become a yoga celebrity” blog far better herself, but she didn’t like to step out from behind the PR curtain and admit that she cared about getting rich or famous, which she euphemised as “abundance” or “recognition.”
Famous Yoga Star had been “nobody” only a few years ago, when she’d read a NY Times article about Tara Stiles and Gabby Bernstein and Kathryn Budig and Sadie Nardini and decided to take up yoga at 22 and now—at only 27—was one of the world’s most successful, if not particularly well-trained yoga teachers. That said, she was grounded and affable—at least on her youtube channel, which had 350,000 subscribers. She was sponsored by Adidas ($250K a year) and flew around the world all year long, teaching, staying at nice or simple hotels or occasionally the studio owners’ houses (which she didn’t like, she needed her downtime).
Everywhere she went, she brought her little dog in its cat cage with her.
If you count Famous Yoga Star’s iPhone app with Dr. Weil and her books “Goddess Yoga Diet!” and “Happiness is Here!” (a glossy, unrecycled coffee table book with a $39.99 cover price) and “Smile! You’re Alive! 10 Steps to a Holy Happy Thinner You” and other books with exclamation marks and smiley faces and flowers and pink on the covers…and you count her google income via the youtube videos, and the yoga mat and clothing sponsorships, and the teaching at conferences and workshops, well…she was making more money than when she was an 18-year-old NYC model. She was saving up to buy a nice Craftsman on the canals of Venice or a little apartment in the West Village or Park Slope, she couldn’t decide. It didn’t really matter where she lived: she didn’t own anything except her little dog and 80 pairs of yoga pants and a laptop and a camera, really.
Famous Yoga Star was a mirage-like inspiration to thousands of ambitious yoga teachers-in-training everywhere. I’m using the words “mirage-like” and “ambitious” instead of “fake,” because being rude is not yogic, even if it’s true.
So: the class was full. Famous Yoga Star was popular, and she wasn’t in town, much.
Yoga Girl walks in with Preppy Mate and…there’s Eco Boy and some chick happily splayed out on their mats…Eco Boy’s lady is stretching, she’s hot, and Eco Boy is half-meditating, half-checking out the folks walking in. Eco Boy and Yoga Girl see one other—Yoga Girl stretches out her mat right beside Eco Boy and his date, and smiles happily at him, fluttering her orange nails and eyelashes at him.
“Hi!, hope you’re well!” she yells in a stage whisper. To which Eco Boy starts, smiling awkwardly, and mumbles something at his navel. His sadness flatters her. Preppie Mate doesn’t know Eco Boy, and thinks nothing of anything. Finally, Famous Yoga Star walks in, pulling the attention of the room into her like a Black Hole, and class begins.
Yoga, at its outset, was (to quote Patanjali), intended not to develop one’s “yoga butt” so much as to “still the waves of the mind.”
And, strangely, in this emotionally painful class—Eco Boy’s heart and attention ripped in two by the two-feet-away presence of Yoga Girl’s beautiful…you know, practice—this yoga class is, under the martial law of Famous Yoga Star, her Jersey-accented commands of “Hold the pose for 5 breaths, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1″…well, for the first time ever, Eco Boy actually did the yoga, or rather allowed the yoga to do unto him.
Struggling desperately to focus on anything but his pain, he focused on breath and alignment. And slowly his broken heart seemed to quiet and warm and melt and heal, and the present moment reared back up at him, and he was himself, again—that is to say, he forgot himself as he rode his breath like a surfer on a curling, rippling wave, carried into shore.
And if you looked closely you would have seen that his eyes were crying, the salty rivulets merging with his sweat and waterfalling onto the cheap, thin, studio-owned toxic PVC mat.
And so, in the end, in Savasana, “the most important yoga pose, as Famous Yoga Teacher called it…he rested, awake, instead of snoring his way out of class as per usual. He returned his full-of-thoughts and mindless and thought-ful mind again and again to his empty, smooth, simple breath.
And when the two collided, they both vanished.
And all he was left with was his maitri, which is a fancy way of saying love.
And in all his years of trying of protesting and trying to right wrongs and be eco-responsible…well he finally realized that he’d never liked himself, and as Tolstoy once said, everyone wants to fix the world, but no one wants to change themselves first.
And so all most of us ever do is create more aggression out there, more us vs. them, all we do is create more micro or macro war, more hardened opposition, more half-truth.
And so Eco Boy leaves the class, sweaty, with Portlandia Kiwi. He showers, he goes up to the front desk and for the first time buys a pass, and he leaves, with C-l-a-r-a, holding her hand and looking into her eyes directly.
She’s no type for him, no more, she’s real, she’s herself: Clara.
And Yoga Girl, surrounded all her life by handsome men who want her, but do not love her…and today, under the forceful fakery of Famous Yoga Star—well despite her best efforts the yoga practice cuts through her solid thoughts—you know, ego—like a butter knife through palm-oiled fake butter Earth Balance. And she sees that thing she saw that snowy night, only a month or so ago: and that thing is not a spiritual revelation.
It’s nothing. It’s reality. It’s her life.
And she doesn’t need to get rid of her trust fund. She can be herself, which, ironically, is something she’s never been, at least not intentionally. She can get to know and make friends with herself. The present moment—will teach her who she is, and what she can do to be useful to others with her short, precious, rich human life.
And she leaves class, goes to the locker room and takes a long, hot shower—well, not so long, for halfway through the luxury she remembers what Eco Boy had once said
about their town being a desert that’s stolen its water out of the far-off Colorado River that’s now run dry for the first time in six million years, which is why she should conserve water, it may be cheap but it’s precious
And she realizes she cares, a little bit, and she turns off the happy hot water, towels off, gets dressed, and leaves. Preppy Mate boy leaves with her, and they live happily ever after—for two weeks of not-quite-in-gear sex before they break up.
And Yoga Girl, alone, enjoys the cool boredom. She settles into it for the first time, instead of wanting to escape it.
Eco Boy Harry falls in love for the first time, getting to know Clara—not loving her like an object or a mere projection of his idea of love…but like a friend. That simple.
And they are partners, they are a match. They are imperfect, it’s work, but it’s damn good, their daily life and partnership—a partnership full of space and independence and lacking only in jealousy. They cook at home, they snowshoe, they love one another without saying it, they make love as if building a campfire, a rocking cradle of affection and playfulness and sweat. They discuss their days and petty triumphs and minor disasters and their love is ordinary, and precious, both.
And then they break up two years later.
And, for a year both Eco Boy and Yoga Girl live in the same town, and though they run across one another, occasionally, they don’t talk.