Monday, October 12, 2009

The Words Escape Me

I'm not quite sure what my problem of late has been but, for some reason, I'm having a hard time expressing myself. Actually, that's not what I'm trying to say. It's more like I'm having a hard time understanding why I feel the way I feel, and the inability to understand the cause makes it impossible to share with others.

For instance, the other day at the end of yoga class the teacher finished by saying, "Namaste." Tradition dictates the whole class will softly repeat it back to the teacher, but the woman next to me instead said,"God bless you." I instantly got mega-offended and my savasana meditation was blown. I laid there in the dark classroom, silently seething.

Afterward I tried to explain to someone how annoying this was but I couldn't. I mean, "Namaste" pretty much means "God bless you" but just not in English, so what was the big deal? What was it about hearing that particular saying in that particular setting that made me so mad? Am I that anti-Christian? If I classified myself an athiest it would make sense to boycott the whole "Namaste" tradition altogether, but since I don't identify that way and I regularly participate by saying the one thing, why not the other? Why is it okay to participate in hollow forms of other religions, like the Ganesh-esque tattoo I sport on my right arm? How would I react to the if I saw some Indian guy walking around with a tattoo of a Jesus fish sporting googly eyes? (Actually, I'd probably crack up)

Anyhow, the point is that I never figured out the answer, and that in itself left me more upset than the original incident.

This weekend we went up to Eureka to my grandfather's wake. As we drove up I realized I hadn't seen that side of the family since I was about 13, and that was nearly 20 years ago. The whole thing read like a high school reunion (rather, what I imagine a high school reunion would be like... I've never had the slightest inkling to attend one until I'm a mega-billionaire who has invented an untraceable gamma-ray-type weapon that will extinguish all those who have wronged me). Basically, no one had changed yet everything had changed.

What struck me most was my one cousin. We'd been relatively the same age growing up so had always been clumped together. As we stood chatting around the keg I realized how different our lives now were.

The whole drive home I couldn't shake it. As an exhausted Aaron napped I had plenty of head space to take in the whole thing, but I couldn't place it. I remembered looking around the house at photographs and piecing together the landmarks that make up a person's life. It wasn't pity I felt, but more like a kind of sadness or guilt. I searched for the source of the emotion and I tried to put my finger on what it was, but I couldn't. It's like I was blank, and the more I thought about it the more it escaped me.


Bennett Samuel Lin said...

Leaving the Bay Area for good finally helped me to recognise a lot of the cognitive dissonance I had built up and internalised over the years. Living for so long in a place where ultra-left politics reigns unchallenged, I was just never forced to defend any contradictory views or values that I held. Anyway, I'm not sure if my experience is applicable to your own situation, but your knee-jerk hostility to Western expressions of faith rings familiar.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should stop blogging then.