How You React… (for September 11)

Via Jay Winston
on Sep 10, 2010
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It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

…a long dry summer ending, finally…at Hemlock Lake, down a brutally steep, glacier-carved hill from the trailer I was technically living in for the summer, water so low it created a beach you could walk along for miles, into areas you couldn’t normally get to easily…saw a bald eagle, maybe three or four miles in, resting on a branch maybe twenty feet above…

…actually for most of July and August had lived an hour north of there, at a friend’s house in Rochester…matters professional, personal, and really really personal having unleashed something that had been bubbling underneath for a long time…leaving pristine isolation too frightening to deal with….then, the same could be said for life in general, but that wasn’t quite as easy to get away from…put the dissertation on hold, along with some bad habits, got into yoga for the first time, and that, along with therapy, and the wonders of modern psychopharmacology, seemed to help…but only so much…

Don’t reach out for me, she said, can’t you see I’m drownin’ too?
It’s rough out there, high water everywhere...
Bob Dylan

…apparently was feeling better somewhat, enough to be back at the trailer that morning, if getting ready to head into town for a few days…had a writing center meeting that afternoon, a class to teach to medical students…Liquor, Drugs, and Literature…came up with the title and course content myself…and was looking forward to picking up a copy of the new Bob Dylan CD, Love and Theft, released that morning….phone rang as I was walking out the door…my mom…asked if I knew what was happening…which I didn’t…

…everything was canceled, but I drove to town, anyway…spent the afternoon at a friend’s house…nursing a migraine, she kept watching the news, while another friend puked in the bathroom…I took her dog for a walk…it was just another day to him…got stopped by a T.V. crew…said I thought it was important to be sure who was  actually responsible before talking about striking back…or something…never saw it, but a couple people who did told me they appreciated whatever I said….gotta admit, there was some comfort that day in knowing everybody else felt as fucked up inside as I did…

We begin where we are and how we are, and whatever happens, happens.
T.K.V. Desikachar

…was going to yoga classes with a guy named Francois Raoult…great teacher as long as you appreciated his sense of humor….still brand new to the yoga thing, myself, was wondering, hoping he was gonna mellow us all out somehow…lull us into some happy cosmic head space far removed from all that… tell us it was all ephemeral, and didn’t matter, anyway…and actually make us believe that…

…instead, he said something to the effect that there were, in fact, very legitimate reasons for the anxiety we were all feeling…but that didn’t mean we should let it paralyze us, or prevent us from functioning…

…and that was the key…no mystical la-la land to escape to…nothing to do but deal with exactly whatever it is was we had to deal with…

shanti shanti shanti


*A version of this article first appeared a year ago at Yoga for Cynics.*


About Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (, has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.


4 Responses to “How You React… (for September 11)”

  1. […] ago today, in memory of events nine years ago, at Elephant Journal…and relevant now as then: How You React…(for Sept. 11) … shanti shanti […]

  2. Brooks_Hall says:

    "…no mystical la-la land to escape to…nothing to do but deal with exactly whatever it is was we had to deal with…"

    This is absolutely the best direction to go in: Find the calmness, centeredness required to walk towards dealing with whatever "it" is…

    It's this kind of thing that I admire about your take on things. Thanks, Jay!

  3. Yogivini says:

    Yes Nice.. but ‘’Knowledge can be harmful if not experienced.’’