jump to navigation

Never the Time and the Place (the “missing” Sunday post) May 7, 2023

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Depression, Donate, Faith, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Love, Meditation, Music, One Hoop, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Poetry, Suffering, Texas, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Writing, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Many blessings to everyone, and especially to anyone Counting the Omer!

This is a “missing” post for Sunday, May 7th. Warning: It alludes to certain current events. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es).
This week you can also click here to Kiss My Asana Now! (Or, you can also  click here to join my team and get people to kiss [your] asana!)
Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.)

“…You see, my dear friend, I am made up of contradictions, and I have reached a very mature age without resting upon anything positive, without having calmed my restless spirit either by religion or philosophy. Undoubtedly I should have gone mad but for music. Music is indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven’s gifts to humanity wandering in the darkness. Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls. It is not the straw to which the drowning man clings; but a true friend, refuge, and comforter, for whose sake life is worth living.”

– quoted from 1877 letter from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to Nadezhda Filaretovna “N. F.” von Meck (who financially supported the composer for 13-years), as published in The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky by Modeste Tchaikovsky

How are you feeling today? And, what are you feeling today?

Perhaps you are feeling one thing very passionately. Perhaps, like me today, you are feeling several very strong emotions. Either way, I would encourage you to take a moment to breathe into what you’re feeling and to acknowledge what you’re feeling, every time you inhale, every time you exhale. That is the practice.

So, today, I am breathing into my gratitude for my practice and for the opportunity to breathe and move (even when I may not move as much as easily as I would like). I am breathing into my gratitude that some people were safe and well enough to join me on Zoom, or use the recording of a practice, and/or read (or listen) to this blog post. However, I am also feeling angry, frustrated, worried, fearful, heartbroken, and emotionally exhausted – because of things that are happening in the world, in my country, in my home state, and in my hometown – and I am breathing into all of that, too. Because that is the practice.

One of the beautiful things about the practice is that it allows for and provides a container in which we can process all of our emotions and sensations – even when they seem contradictory. It is a time and a place where we can pause and set our burdens aside for a moment – not with the intention to ignore what we must do in the world; but, instead, as a way to go deeper into ourselves and into what can be done.

“I am now wholly occupied with the new work … and it is hard for me to tear myself away from it. I believe it comes into being as the best of my works. I must finish it as soon as possible, for I have to wind up a lot of affairs and I must soon go to London. I told you that I had completed a Symphony which suddenly displeased me, and I tore it up. Now I have composed a new symphony which I certainly shall not tear up.”

– quoted from an 1893 letter from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to his brother Modest, as published in Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed by John Suchet

According to the Gregorian calendar, today (May 7th) is the anniversary of the birth of both Johannes Brahms and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany – which would have marked time with the Gregorian calendar when the composer was born in 1833. However, Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, Russian Empire – which would have been using the Julian calendar in 1840, making April 25th the composer’s “official” birth date. Both composers created music that could be considered “the most beautiful of all Heaven’s gifts to humanity wandering in the darkness.” Yet, I have a long history with Tchaikovsky and tend to lean into his music.

So, today is a day when I would normally play some rather festive ballet music – and pair it with what might be considered hopeful and inspiring poetry by Robert Browning, who was born in Camberwell, London, England today in 1840. But, I did not start off today feeling hopeful or inspired. Neither did I initially feel like proclaiming, “Rejoice we are allied” – because we are not.

We are not yet allied.

I mean, maybe we are together in our hearts. Maybe our spirits are one. Maybe we are of the same mind, in the privacy of our own minds. Out in the world, however, we are not presenting a united front against evil, violence, oppression, and tyranny. We are not yet joining the energy of youth with the wisdom of old age and working together to bring about peace. We can not trust the opening lines from Robert Browning’s poem “RABBI BEN EZRA,” because we are constantly reminded that we may not have the time that the poet promised.

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!’”

– quoted from the poem “RABBI BEN EZRA” by Robert Browning

I’ll be honest, it kind of irks me that some really amazing lines of poetry sound like things shouted by my master teachers and precious jewels, people that push my buttons. I get especially annoyed by people who respond to calls for change by saying that it’s not the time or the place to discuss changes that need to be made. Unfortunately, in the United States, we can no longer ask, “When is the time and when is the place?” because horrific tragedies just keep happening. Even before we reached the point where we are today, the unstated answer to the question was, “It’s never the time and it’s never the place.” And now we have politicians that straight up say that they’ll discuss gun reform in our dreams.

So, let’s go there.

“Never the time and the place
And the loved one all together!
This path—how soft to pace!
This May—what magic weather!
Where is the loved one’s face?
In a dream that loved one’s face meets mine,
But the house is narrow, the place is bleak
Where, outside, rain and wind combine
With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak,
With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek,
With a malice that marks each word, each sign!
O enemy sly and serpentine,
Uncoil thee from the waking man!
Do I hold the Past
Thus firm and fast
Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
This path so soft to pace shall lead
Thro’ the magic of May to herself indeed!
Or narrow if needs the house must be,
Outside are the storms and strangers: we
Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she,—
I and she!”

– quoted from the poem “Never the Time and the Place” by Robert Browning

Now I know, I know, that at the end of the poem, the poet decides to go back to sleep and back to the love that is in his dreams. In real life, however, Robert Browning’s poetry (and his dreams) led to him meeting, falling in love, and marrying the poet Elizabeth Barrett. Their lives were not perfect. They had to overcome challenges, illness, and hardships; but, they were together “safe, warm.” Furthermore, since I was talking about dreams and Sigmund Freud yesterday, I can’t help but think of the knowledge that is found in dreams and the work that is needed to make those dreams come true.

Which brings me back Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – whose music has been used (in Russia) as a signal that things need to change.

Even though I feel like we need change (and that a younger generation may bring it), I’m not broadcasting “Danse des petits cygnes” (“Dance of the little swans”) today as a shibboleth or coded message encouraging people to overthrow the government. I don’t think the answer to our violence problems is more violence. Instead, I feel more like playing Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74,” which comes with it’s own conspiracy backstory and a little bit of wisdom.

Click here if you want to know more about one of the conspiracies.

Tchaikovsky composed “Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74” at the very end of his life. He called it the “Passionate Symphony” (in Russian). However, he died nine days after the piece premiered (in October 1893) and, therefore, could not correct the French translator who later called the piece “Pathétique” – which means to “invoking pity” or, in English, can also mean “miserably inadequate.”

Pity is a tricky emotion, because it implies that whatever or whomever inspires (or invokes) the pity is somehow beneath the person who is feeling the emotion. It is not the same as empathy or sympathy – which I think we need more of in the world – and it is not the same as compassion (again, which could be useful right now). Pity allows us to “feel sorry for [the ones suffering]” and then to go on about our business. Tchaikovsky, however, was not producing pity. He was feeling, passionately, and creating something amazing, beneficial, and hopeful out of those emotions.

He was drawing everyone in the world in and saying, “life is worth living.”

“If this symphony is misunderstood, and torn to shreds, I shall think it quite normal, and not at all surprising. It will not be the first time. But I myself absolutely believe it to be the best and especially the most sincere of all my works. I love it as I have never loved any single one of my other musical creations.”

– quoted from an 1893 letter from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to his nephew Vladimir “Bob” Davydov as posted in “Music History Monday: His Own Requiem?” by Robert Greenberg

Pick your music. The second option is “balletic” and “Christmas-y.”

The playlist used today is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “10282020 Feeling Pathétique?”]

The playlist I have typically used is also available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “05072022 Rejoice We Are Allied”]

Yes! You can still click here to Kiss My Asana Now! (And, you can also still click here to join my team and get people to kiss [your] asana!)

“Rejoice we are allied
To That which doth provide
And not partake, effect and not receive!
A spark disturbs our clod;
Nearer we hold of God
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.”

– quoted from the poem “RABBI BEN EZRA” by Robert Browning

If you are thinking about suicide, worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, you can dial 988 (in the US) or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call the TALK line if you are struggling with addiction or involved in an abusive relationship. The Lifeline network is free, confidential, and available to all 24/7. YOU CAN TALK ABOUT ANYTHING. 

If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgement-free place to talk, you can also click here to contact the TrevorLifeline (which is staffed 24/7 with trained counselors).

### This is the season…. ###


No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: