October 12, 2011

Do You Want To Be a Mermaid Or a Whale? ~ Xenia G. Brat

“This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?

This is a hot post on Facebook right now. It features a nude photograph of plus size model Tara Lynn. This in response to a flyer posted at a gym, asking the same question, but featuring a very thin woman.

The response to the flyer elaborates on the beauty of whales. They are friendly, fun, and strong. Who wouldn’t want to be a whale? But then it goes on: “Mermaids don’t exist. And if they did they would be sick, childless, and sad.”

Why is it so popular to make others wrong in order to make ourselves right? Why can’t mermaids and whales both be beautiful? A very compassionate yogi (Gandhi) once said “An eye for eye makes the whole world blind.”

Mermaids do exist by the way. At least according to Robert Fulghum’s story in “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I love reading this story in yoga class, especially while students rest peacefully in frog pose.

Fulghum tells the story of a school teacher leading a roomful of wired-up grade-schoolers in a game of “Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs.” The purpose of the game is to have the kids run around disorderly, make a lot of noise, and at some point scramble to find their team. That point came and the teacher yelled out: “Choose now, which one are you: A Giant, a Wizard, or a Dwarf?”

While most of the kids ran around wildly trying to find their team, a girl came up to the teacher and asked “Where do mermaids stand?” His first reaction was, well, you guessed it: “Mermaids do not exist little Mary, go find your team.” But she was not about to give up, she knew she didn’t belong in any of the given categories. She was a mermaid, she wanted to play, and all she needed was some guidance from the teacher as to where to stand.

Where do mermaids stand? All those who are different, who do not fit the norm, who are too little, or too big, or too skinny, or too fat… Realizing his predicament, and with a spark of genius, the teacher replied: “The mermaids stand here, by the King of Sea!” Little Mary was fine with him being King of Sea, no judgment. So they stood there, while everyone else found their place. The story ends with a line that touches my heart every time: “It is not true, by the way, that mermaids do not exist. I know at least one personally. I have held her hand.”

My point is: Be a whale, be a mermaid, be yourself, just don’t break others (real or mythical) down while building yourself up.



Xenia G. Brat is originally from the rich land of Pura Vida, Costa Rica. She currently lives in sunny San Diego, with her husband, and teaches yoga at Green/Flash, a donation-based studio in Cardiff by the Sea. She teaches a fusion of Bhakti, Kripalu, Vinyasa and Power yoga; a practice of love, devotion and gratitude, and a constant search for a new edge. Follow Xenia on Facebook at Pura Vida Power Yoga. Find her at: http://puravidapoweryoga.com/.

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