It's like me to want to know how far out a thing can get. I've done this with insomnia, booze/intoxication, literature (difficulty, post/modernism, Joyce, Musil, Pynchon, etc), film (again, viewing, not making), climbing walls, and even the yoga. How far down the rabbit hole can this incarnation go? What are my LIMITS?
There's a longish rambling post about how all of that, every bit of that "questing," is really just to try to overshoot internal things that need processing. How out of myself can I get, how far the fuck away from my stuff can I get?
And transformation: that's really, in my usage up to this point, new animals, new forms, new crystals through which to see the same things. There's something to be said for a new lens, but the inner material one sees through it never changes.
It feels empowering and sexy to be transforming/transformed, digging a spade into the earth and erecting ramparts and storming others' cities and all of that legend-making. But the stuff remains the same in the center.
Parenting denies all of the legends and makes all of the stuff clear. The alchemy worked by a very young person on a much older person is a sort of flashback, but it's not revisitation; instead it's confrontation and/or acknowledgement. You nod constantly when you're a parent and then you do the mundanity, and it's all acceptance, you never erect a rampart or storm a city with a barbarian horde. But it's fun to have those movies on tap so you can still, in your legend, in your own myth, blow up the Death Star or whatever it is you do.
Parenting is compassion and relating (well, even when it's done badly or done evilly, in which case it isn't very compassionate, I suppose). You can't add the child to your legend, you can't dominate the relationship that way, you can't USE your parenting for self-aggrandizement, not because it's immoral or you "shouldn't," but because that relationship between parent and child simply won't STICK to that goal, the way that something that's not magnetic just will not stick to the fridge no matter how hard you press it there.
And so your relationship to your child casts a light on all of your other relationships and it reveals in fairly unbearable clarity where you have overreached and where you have exaggerated and where you have sort of "taped over" the cracks and the unspoken places and the things you don't want to see and the places you don't want to go. Your relationship to your child is your UR-relationship and all others are situated underneath it in that merciless brilliance with their flaws so clear you cannot look away.
Your legend turns to stone in that light, cracked towering stone, no longer liquid mercury, shiny slippery and marvelous, subaquatic, escaping, Mariana-Trench-dwelling phosphorescent. Now trapped in incarnation, stone, climbable, cracked, revealed, visible, consummately visible, mapped, available to all.
And immobile now, the ego weeps, guilty, angry and powerless. Raging manacled, promising to pen a Hugo novel in your own juices.
This is what it is to be "ordinary," to be Trungpa ordinary.
In my practice since 2009, I have gained poses, lost poses, gained poses, lost poses, gained, lost, gained, lost, yes, no, yes, no, yesno, yesnoyesnoyesnowhat?
What? What sequence? What poses? What? Why? What am I doing? Whose world is this?
And for a long time nothing made any sense.
I decided today, after an unsatisfactory, cold, modified, rushed gym practice, that I'll just do up to Kapotasana, just like in July 2008. That was the last time I so-called "got" a pose (I've never REALLY "gotten" a pose) and I simply can't cross it. I mean, I can, but I can't keep anything, and the periods of loss are sometimes whole months of total practice loss. It's cataclysmic, and then my regains are like the Huns sacking Rome, and then they are likewise demolished. It's not good, that mad pendulum swing.
July and August 2008, back when I began a Kapo quest in earnest. We got pregnant in September. Then the world exploded and everything became very "ordinary." The child still doesn't regularly sleep through the night; he'll be two years old in thirteen days. We still have no relationship to speak of, although we do get a hug in once in a while; I'm glad in a way there's no sexual activity, because it was so awkward, cold and horrifying that I had to work hard to process it and really don't have any processing machinery to spare, so it's easier to simply be without it, more comfortable this way. I expect that'll creep back when the administrative job ends and when the child sleeps more regularly. Job ends MAY 2013.
Really, who can Gain Poses in these conditions? Who even wants to?
I still can't get the "magic" of the Parenting Kool-Aid, and I've been drinking that stuff non-stop all year. Make no mistake, I love my kid and he's awesome and hilarious, but parenting itself, the system of it, the set of obligations, the time demands, and really, when it comes to the core of it, the EGO DEATH of it, just makes me proof against pie-eyed star-gazing declarations like, "It's the best thing I've ever done!" I just can't say that, can barely restrain a cringe at even typing it.
My legend didn't have parenting in it, or maybe it did, but the parenting limb hadn't cropped up yet, hadn't developed yet. Too soon. She craved it--and didn't even, she wanted to have a kid because she was AFRAID that if she missed her chance, she'd REGRET IT LATER--and I didn't. Too soon.
So my ego was carved into this shape, the service life that is parenting, and again, it's all about relating. But a relating that is not grandiose, that serves no legend, that isn't Shakespeare, that isn't world revolution, that isn't Reich and Leary and Jodorowsky and Breton and all of that.
But it also isn't Moody and Delillo and even Acker, and all of that, either.
It isn't dramatic at all, it's so mundane that you can't write any kind of novel about it. But it's not a privatized mundane, and because of that, it's not a re-dramatized mundane, it cannot be made to play that game: not in indie film, not in postmodern novel, not in any form. And all of reality begins to look like it, echo it, be the same as it. And then no one has any legend, and legends are all told just to be legends, and suddenly books are books and people are people and ordinariness has this fabulous mystery that can't be expressed in any language and which has never been said except maybe in koans.
Not all parents feel like that; there's something about the love and the enchantment that all gets knit into something different, and I'll never understand it because I can't do it. But I somehow have enough language that I can sound like I'm part of that club, and so I don't have to deal with THAT alienation on top of the others.
I think that parenting beats any Buddhist retreat ever.
It has made me quieter, more reflective, less "active" (I would say violent, but that's not what I mean: my violence was always one of overactivity, grand gesture where none was required, presence taking up space, volume), sad in the way Trungpa talks about in Shambhala. That, and it has given me this relentless vision of every untrue thing that I've ever done or thought at any time, ever, which is like watching a private horrorshow of your own egotistical overreaches.
I think that finally when all of that comes to acceptance, when it stops being such a massively long-term soak in negative emotions, that it will turn into a happiness, a contentment, as stout as the negativity. A real recutting of the ego. That's why I say this is better than any retreat. This is the REAL surgery, the real thing.