June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
For some time now, my girlfriend has taken great delight in teasing me about my man crush for Jason Statham. It’s hard to fight back, because I do indeed get something of a tingly feeling when I see the man on film.
It started with The Transporter. I’d seen him elsewhere (Guy Ritchie films mainly), but it was in this admittedly pretty poorly scripted and averagely acted movie that I really noticed him. It was more for his driving than his torso. I discovered that he was a former British Olympic Driving champion, and that he did his own stunts. For a maverick like myself who likes to dream I’m in a Bond-esque chase when I’m tearing around the mountains here at home, this is more than a little impressive.
It wasn’t too long before I would imagine I was Frank Martin, high tailing it to my destination with a package in the back that could only be bad news. Whenever I had a passenger in the car and got a little frisky behind the wheel, the invariable response would be, “Okay, slow it down Statham!”
Then, last night, I found myself at my first ever kickboxing class. I didn’t consciously decide to do this to be like Jason, but nevertheless the connection was not lost on me.
I don’t know what I expected but the class was very enjoyable. The teacher (a guy who actually looks a little bit like Statham, and is also called Jason) was very supportive and ensured I didn’t feel like an awkward klutz. The guys in the class were far from the meathead posers I half imagined they would be, but were quiet, attentive and encouraging as well, offering tips when I started to struggle.
I had mentioned earlier that I thought I was pretty fit thanks to yoga and tango dance classes (Jason politely refrained from laughing at me), and that my main aim for kickboxing was technique rather than fitness. At around the fifteen minute mark, as I was collapsed over my knees gasping for breath, Jason walked past and winked at me. “It’s a different kind of fitness, isn’t it?” he smiled as he kept going.
It certainly is. I forced myself to arise early this morning for a long yoga practice and if I hadn’t I’m sure the dull ache in my arms and upper back right now would be more of a screaming violence.
But I think I’ll persist with the kickboxing for a while, it’s a nice round out to yoga and tango, and it might serve as an entry point to free running training, something else I’ve been thinking of doing. As for my crush, my mum once told me that she nearly called me Jason, so perhaps it stems from there. She apparently changed her mind after going to a shopping centre one day and hearing different mothers all around her angrily shouting, “Jason, come back here!” “Put that down Jason!” “Don’t you even THINK about it Jason!” Who knows who I’d be if I had that moniker instead?
June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
For a little while now I’ve been trying to work out what my calling is. Rather than listen, I’ve kinda thrown myself at a few things to see if they take hold. I went for a very long walk through France and Spain at the end of last year (if you’re so inclined you can read about that here) and got the feeling I should be doing something healing. A clairvoyant numerologist told me the same thing. (Actually, his exact words were that I had “Jesus healing hands”, which is a lot of pressure to put on someone when you think about it. I’m just glad I’m not still on tour or I’d be getting asked to turn the water on the rider into wine.) For a little while, I considered studying naturopathy or kinesiology but neither of those things stuck. There’s interest there, but not enough to drop a few thousand dollars on studying them.
And then, into my lap, fell effective communication. I attended a couple of workshops by a lady called Frances Amaroux and they inspired me, I suspect largely due to the suffocating swamp of ineffective communication I was drowning in with my fellow community members where I live. Around the same time, a professional speaker asked me if I was involved in communication, and when I said no, she told me she thought I had a real flair for it.
Of course, nothing gets me thinking like a little flattery. I looked into it and it turns out that, aside from a few very expensive courses, effective communication can be learned very cheaply, with so many free resources online for wannabe lecturers or teachers that it’s a wonder we don’t all get along so much better than we do. But I’ve noticed as I wade through this material that there’s a very good reason for this.
It is by and large almost mind numbingly boring.
The course I’m doing now started off strong, with lots of great exercies and a little humour. I’m now seven chapters in and I feel like I’m sitting through transcripts of self help group meetings in old community centres. Surely this material can be presented in a way that’s not only respectful and caring and all that kind of thing that’s required when assisting people into dark places they’ve kept locked for many years, but also fun? If I’m going to go exploring somewhere cobwebbed and foul smelling, you can bet I’ll be the first one cracking jokes to ease the fear.
At any rate, it occured to me that this very thing could be my niche. I’m working on a program now that incorporates all that I’m learning, but with some Fozzie Bear style zingers throughout, perhaps with a couple of entertaining stories along the way. I think if this is something I’m going to be working on to inspire people, I’m going to need to be inspired first.
June 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to write an article for the BodyMindLife newsletter. Topic was whatever I liked. This always stretches me, I work well by being given strict guidelines that I can then run wild within. I like to take guidelines to their limit, and push them harder than they would have thought possible. But an open ender is always a struggle for me. Fortunately, inspiration struck a couple of days after the request, and this is what I put out (edited slightly by the newsletter editor):
Are You Being Served?
by Craig New, Jasper’s Village Resort
Students of yoga texts will be well familiar with the concept of serving. Rare is the guru who can get through a chapter comfortably without touching upon it. Swami Sivananda wrote, “Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Comfort the distressed. Remove glass pieces from the road.” (He obviously lived in Surry Hills for some time.) Sri Chinmoy advises, “A seeker knows that each time he gets an opportunity to serve, he is nearing his destination.” Tolstoy, in his grand and eloquent way, wrote, “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.”
These are good and noble statements. Serving ignites a fire deep within us that we cannot light by being right, being better, or being combustible. That fire will only spark if we throw in our egos with a bit of lighter fluid and allow ourselves to forget ourselves for long enough to focus on someone else.
But how long is enough? How long can we forget ourselves in the pursuit of assisting others? Is it possible to become mesmerised by the flame of service and, like a moth spiralling helplessly in to a spitting light bulb, burn up in the heat of devotion?
These thoughts occurred to me today whilst I was serving nobody but myself. I sat in a café eating lunch, a magazine on the table in front of me. This was my first day off in weeks, and I’d been looking forward to it eagerly. It was a chance to relax, let go, and stop thinking about others for a few hours whilst revelling in the selfishness of personal time.
After a few minutes, I noticed something about my posture. One hand was curled around the fork, mechanically stabbing my food with all the fervour of a sociopath. The other was clutching the edge of the seat, knuckles white, fingers cramping. My legs were crossed at the ankles, one foot incessantly tap, tap, tapping on the floor. My torso lunged into the table as if bracing against a strong and howling wind, my back locked and neck tight. I read many sentences two or three times, constantly distracted by the conversations around me, the layout of the menu, and the shadows flickering past the window outside.
It turns out my relaxation time was as calming as a root canal.
In scientific fashion, I studied this behaviour silently. What was I afraid of in letting go? Was I worried that the concentrated release of all my muscles would lead to a bowel evacuation or weeping session? Was I fearful that the slightest slip in posture would cause all those yoga practices to be null and void, curving my spine into a never-to-be-straightened pretzel? Was I simply ill at ease in the anti-yoga practice of, to some degree, not being? I attempted to let go and couldn’t. Then I hunched back, put down my fork, and uncrossed my legs. I gingerly let go my death grip on the chair. And you know, I almost did feel like weeping.
I once heard a story about a man who was sucked from an airplane when the door blew out and held onto a rail until landing. They had to prise his fingers off with a crowbar once he was out of danger. That’s how I felt in letting go, as if to do so would be to fall from some great and noble height.
But what does this have to do with serving? Sometimes we can get so caught up in the concept of being there for others and being the one who always says yes, that we can forget we need support just as much as anybody else. And while it is indeed a beautiful, wonderful, and basically good thing to serve others, even Tolstoy’s greater humanity, we can only do this to our full potential if we allow a little time to serve ourselves.
So try letting go. The drop isn’t as far as it looks.