Friday, February 9, 2018

Feeling for no good reason

The Eagles won the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia is happy.

Like, so happy. It's infectious.

I don't know football. I don't know the rules. I don't know the people. I know Philly likes the Eagles. That's about it.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I painted my bathroom.

I woke up at 5 am the day after to go teach yoga. I looked online to see who won, mainly so I would know the mood I'd walk into when I taught class. My eyebrows raised. The Eagles won! OK. People will be happy.

The morning was very, very quiet. Very still. People slept the sleep of drunken champions.

As the sun slowly rose, a quiet jubilation blew through the streets. Even people who cut me off did so cheerfully. People are happy.

I felt happy too. I returned to the yoga studio to teach a 9:30 am class. After one student at 6 am (the hangover slumber) there was now a full studio of 20 some people. Everyone was chattering and connecting with their neighbors. I decided there was only one way to call to order under these circumstances. I blasted Queen's "We are the Champions."

Some students jumped up and danced, people waved their hands, we sang along. We had a moment. And then we did yoga.

Throughout the day I thought of how long people had waited for this. I saw so much Philly pride. Everyone was so happy to be from Philly. We were all happy to have wanted something together. We were so happy to share the good thing.

It felt like a wave of joy.

Given that I know nothing about football, I felt somewhat guilty sharing in the celebration. But I thought that plenty of times I get stressed or miserable for no good reason. Why not get happy for no good reason? We all want to feel joy. Sometimes, we only allow ourselves to go there with an excuse.

A football game is as good a reason as any.

And I'm starting to get team sports a bit. People want to root and cry and lament and celebrate together. They want the thing that makes them feel a thing. It's a projection. It's something to agree upon.

I'm so happy to be in Philly when we all decided, together, to be happy that we're here. To be proud of ourselves. To be excited about what we do and who we are. To hug each other in the streets. To be happy. For no good reason. For all the reasons.

Cause no one likes us and we don't care!

Related image

Actually Communicating

In my winter hibernation, I am listening. To many podcasts. Of a weird assortment.

Top contenders right now are Krista Tippett, Joe Rogan, and Duncan Trussell.

Their voices are very different from one another.

I love their curiosity, broad interests, and desire to truly communicate. Rogan and Tippett, in particular, talk frequently about the need to truly communicate with one another. I've been listening to the language they use to describe this need. Tippett has a series called "Civil Conversations" meant to offer a real conversation about a hot button issue that often is debated in sound-bites. She's had people on opposing sides of abortion or gay marriage speak together. "Civil" is a word that shows up often for her in searching for meaningful conversation.

Rogan uses words like "reasonable people having a logical conversation." "Reason" and "logic" show up often.

I appreciate both of them because they're introducing me to thinkers who I don't come across otherwise and they're offering them a platform where they can actually be heard as opposed to being reduced into a bullet point.

I also love the idea about how we communicate and the potential around our communication.

I've been thinking about whether or not I'm after "civil," "reasonable," "logical" conversations.

I'm not.

All of these words bother me. I want to understand why.

"Civil" is a word posed in opposition to "wild." The implied idea is that the "wild" or nature, is chaotic and unruly. Civilization is the order imposed on this disordered natural state.

Well, that's a problem. Given that human bodies are natural, there's again an implication to impose order on our natural state, our nakedness, our frailty, our vulnerability. The natural world, in my estimation, is not disordered. There's a beautiful, soft order that often escapes human comprehension, but exists nonetheless. Even storms provide the clarity of a cleansed environment. The wild might lie outside of human comprehension, but it's not chaos. Our understanding of it might be chaotic but that only speaks to our comprehension, not what we seek to comprehend.

Similarly, words like "reason" and "logic" feel really masculine to me. They feel like words my Dad uses. "Reason" especially feels rooted in Enlightenment thinking of moving away from the fearful idolatry of gods to the clear-eyed measurements of science. (Please read the ample sarcasm.) "Reason" implies that thinking can be divorced from intuiting and feeling.

I don't believe that we can be so divided.

We are always feeling and intuiting-- my understanding of intuiting being processing information through senses more quickly than we're able to categorize that same information through analytical cognition. I think Rogan uses the word "reason" to distinguish our tendency to "react."

Logic is a useful philosophical process to work through ideas. It completely has a place in conversation. There's also an assumption of objectivity here-- that we can get sufficient distance from a subject to look at it without investment.

I disagree. We are subjective beings. We are interwoven. We are in context. Claiming logic or objectivity is simply dishonest. Honestly, we can own our subjectivity and admit how it influences our thinking. That's being an accountable human.

These words have helped me clarify what I appreciate about the conversations Rogan and Tippett conduct as well as the interactions I seek.

I think I'm trying to be in and create environments for the following:
  • Context. Owning where we are situated in a topic. Claiming our own biases and acknowledging how they might influence our thinking.
  • Emotional awareness. Acknowledging when a topic feels close to home and allowing it to affect us. Not trying to claim that our insight is more credible because we don't feel but owning that feeling is being human. We're allowed to feel. And admitting that doesn't invalidate our thoughts on a subject.
  • Accountability. Being willing to evolve. Being willing to be wrong. Being more interested in growth than "winning" a conversation. Being more interested in ideas than the stakes we've claimed.
  • Curiosity. Allowing human curiosity to drive us towards creativity and connection. To allow us beyond the bounds of the group think many of us have affiliated with.
I'm sure there is way more, but this is my working list. These are the conversations that I cherish because they take place between humans. Humans are wild, they are not logical, nor are they reasonable. They have feelings about things, passions, excitement, and fears. And we can talk about that.