Friday, August 19, 2011

Traveling and learning....

I have just arrived in Bulgaria. My brother picks me up from the airport and we are making the "the short" cut trip to my mother's apartment weaving through the back streets, avoiding traffic lights and traffic all together. As always it takes a while for the ugliness to set in. I make a comment: "Why can't people in these giant, communist apartment complexes get a piggy bank going, an HOA, and repaint the outside of these buildings?" I mean, rust is streaking down the balconies, the original colors long ago fainted and satellite dishes hanging in disarray do not make a pretty site, by any stretch of the imagination. Add to that the hanging laundry, waiving it's whites and colors to the world and the occasional "home improvement" project which consist of folks enclosing their balconies and making them as part of the interior by way of glass or other not previously agreed upon materials and you can see how each building resembles a gypsy patchwork of tasteless functionality and dubious safety. "They don't care" he said.

A few hours later, the sun set but the summer night still pleasnatly warm, we are seatted in an old gazibo in the Tsar's summer garden. It's now the property of Tabo&Co and the place is alive with drinking and smoking. The menu sports over a hunderd alcoholic bevarges but i find a fresh squeezed lemonade with mint in it for the price of $3. Yes, this is indeed the Tsar's summer garden on the back side of the Tsar's palace in the heart of Sofia. Once the communists claimed the place and kept it off limits but now it appears everything is within limits.

Dressed up dolls walk around in their high heals with properly applied make up and seemingly an intention to outdo the next one. Guys stooping over tables with cigarettes between the fingers and the usual "I am too cool" scrunched up eye brows, seem to be all involved in very serious, loud conversations. Hardly any laughter, which makes my giggling all the more abvous and a few heads turn around to check out who can possibly be so happy!

My brother's child hood friends arrive and they both proceed to explain to me how hard things are and how if they just had more money, all their troubles would melt away. One would take over a defaulted restaurant and make a bank. Theother is deffinitelly sure that the root of his problems is that he's not making enough money, which amazes me because by his own admission he makes above the average pay check and lives rent-free with is mother at the age of 30. What also amazes me is that on the way to this fine establishment we have passed by many big and small coffee shops, restaurants and night clubs with flashy facades and judging by the expensive BMW, Audis and the likes of cars parked on the outside of these places, everyone's a BMW, or the like, driver with everyone has too much money and too much time to spare packing these places at 11 pm on a Thursday night. Yet, you do have to drive through a lot of pot holes to get there. "They don't care" he chimes.

What's that got to do with yoga...all of it. First of all, yoga, as a way of life, makes a person care. Ghandi cared so much he caused a revolution. Modern day yogi and yoginies are involved in variety of causes from helping children, to urban development, to support for homeless and raising money for varieties of causes. Practicing yoga, even if you don't devote your time studing the philosophy of it, opens you body and your heart to a sense of connectedness from which comes care and genuine compassion and concern for other fellow humans, nature, the environment, everything.  Bulgaria, and the whole world for that matter, needs yoga. I am the only one laughing all evening while a few more of my brother's friends pour out of the dark say "hi" to me.

"What do you think?" one of them askes me. I say "I am hearing a lot of 'no', 'cannot,' 'it's impossible,' 'no way' around here" - I say."I am more used to 'why not,' 'lets give it a try,' 'everything is possible' and 'what the hack, if it doesn't work, do something else' where i come from."

First of all, that's just how most American's are - optimistic, oportunistic, adventerous bunch, dispite alot of things. But second of all, in my little yoga comminity, i see enthusiasm and trust that things will work out and life is more fun than trouble over all. You don't have to do yoga to be that way, but yoga definitelly helps you gain a perspective, a greatitude for everything you are, everything you have and everything you can be. Which, overall is a better place than being in the Tsar's summer garden on a Thursday night in Sofia.

"The glass is either half full or half empty" i tell my brother's friends. "What do you mean?" they say. I go into my gratitude lecture with enthusiasm and more laughing, to which more heads get turned as my second lemonade arrives and i just about give the waitress a hug and tell her how wonderful this fresh squeezed lamon, suger and crushed mint tastes. She likes my outburst but is clearly confused as to what to do with it. People are sure guarded around here. I guess i used to be too. So, i count my blessings and with gratitude in my heart for my karma, which i am fully aware of, is the product of my choices and the ability to unpack the potential given to me, i pay for the drinks and leave the place laughing on the way to the car as my brother endearingly makes fun of my made up Bulgarian/English words.

"I love when you visit" he said. "It's like the sun shines all the time you are here." "It's always shining", i say," you just have to change your sunglasses and be willing to bask in it's glory without judgment, nacked, open to whatever comes and greatful for the way things turn out, even if they don't turn out the way you think they should." After all, who are we to know how things should turn out. It's enough to know that we are all God's creatures and when it says in the Old book that we are created in God's image, it does not mean, we all have long beard and sit on a cloud. It means that we are all creators. That's power. That's responsibility. That's inevitibality and that's the beauty of life!

Yoga is skill in action, according to the yogic teachings. Yoga is the yoking of your individual self, with the Supreme Self and in that way, yoga is the yoking of you with Life without and ALL of it's manifestations. So, enjoy. Tat Tsvam Asi - You Are That.