Today I craved an upside-down view. Trident CrossFit programmed a great WOD with lunges, russian twists, pullups, and handstand-pushups, but I am home-bound and gym-banned because I tweaked my neck the other day doing heavy squats.
Forbidden to do anything overhead, handstands are out. But I did unroll my yoga mat and invert myself into a downward dog. Boomer’s are much better. She got between my arms and legs and did her own downward dog beneath mine. What a champ she is, that little pup. I couldn’t snap a picture, but know that it was perfect.
Yoga is beautiful to see. It is awkward to do. I want to master it.
I began a book called Mastery by Robert Greene. His reflections on time offer answers to wordless questions that gnaw at me time and time again.
For animals, time is their great enemy. If they are potential prey, wandering too long in a space can spell instant death. If they are predators, waiting too long will only mean the escape of their prey. Time for them also represents physical decay. To a remarkable extent, our hunting ancestors reversed this process. The longer they spent observing something, the deeper their understanding and connection to reality. With experience, their hunting skills would progress. With continued practice, their ability to make effective tools would improve. The body could decay but the mind would continue to learn and adapt. Using time for such effect is the essential ingredient of mastery.
In fact, we can say that this revolutionary relationship to time fundamentally altered the human mind itself and gave it a particular quality or grain. When we take our time and focus in depth, when we trust that going through a process of months or years will bring us mastery, we work with the grain of this marvelous instrument that developed over so many millions of years. We infallibly move to higher and higher levels of intelligence. We see more deeply and realistically. We practice and make things with skill. We learn to think for ourselves. We become capable of handling complex situations without being overwhelmed. In following this path we become Homo magister, man or woman the Master.
To the extent that we believe we can skip steps, avoid the process, magically gain power through political connections or easy formulas, or depend on our natural talents, we move against this grain and reverse our natural powers. We become slaves to time—as it passes, we grow weaker, less capable, trapped in some dead-end career. We become captive to the opinions and fears of others. Rather than the mind connecting us to reality, we become disconnected and locked in a narrow chamber of thought. The human that depended on focused attention for its survival now becomes the distracted scanning animal, unable to think in depth, yet unable to depend on instincts.
It is the height of stupidity to believe that in the course of your short life, your few decades of consciousness, you can somehow rewire the configurations of your brain through technology and wishful thinking, overcoming the effect of six million years of development. To go against the grain might bring temporary distraction, but time will mercilessly expose your weakness and impatience.
Dawn indicates the passage of time and its infinite cycle. Dawn points the way ahead.