Saturday, January 26, 2008

Running in Place

To re-hab a sore and creaky right knee I have changed up my 4-5 day/week yoga routine and thrown in some non-impact cardio and strengthening exercises. That means that I had to find a gym I could get to after work a few times a week and one in which I can swim. That gym? LA Fitness in Fountain Valley. The gym I joined originally when I moved to California in February 1999!

For those readers who aren't gym-rats let me explain: a gym is like a church, and after-school sport and a social hall all mixed into one. Those who attend regularly find their spirits lifted and start to see the network of recognizable faces form. The machines become like a favorite seat in a classroom -- familiar even when less-than-thrilling. To leave one's gym is like switching teams. You have to have uprooted yourself in some life-change that requires physically departing.

And I had. I left Fountain Valley for Irvine in 2001 and never looked back. For years I worked out in Foothill Ranch and then taught Yoga there when I first started instructing in 2004. Returning to Fountain Valley was both strange and comfortable at the same time. The machines were oddly familiar, the faces were mostly different but a few old-timers still lingered including staff. The pool felt the same: too hot, too shallow, too small and altogether mine for the taking.

But what I found most disturbing was the psychology of the place. I, on a personal level, am in a completely different place than I was in 1999 -- and yet... Being on the same machines and staring at the same walls (or people) brought back extremely vivid memories of the thought patterns I had at that point in my life. How self-limiting they were. How small. Which makes me wonder if my current thoughts are so small that I limit myself year after year.

They were simple thoughts: how my girlfriend (some day to become ex-wife) was interacting with me in my apartment, where I might live after my first apartment in Fountain Valley, how much income I could earn at this thrilling new job in California. And now? My thoughts of late have been about living with my girlfriend, how I might be able to reduce my mortgage given the current US economic downturn and why I don't earn what I believe I'm capable of.

But then I smile. I realize that my thoughts aren't about how much I argue with my girlfriend (in retrospect, I suppose ex-wife was right there in my face) but rather how much I am amazed that I can spend hours upon hours with my girlfriend and adore here. My mortgage is a mortgage which I have absolute control over for a house that is perfect for me with neighbors I love and in a location I have chosen of all the places in SoCal. And my income is triple what it was when I moved to California and allows me a life of stability even as I realize I still have upward potential for far more -- my accomplishments are being recognized.

And so the gym is an absolute riotous flashback in my mind and yet makes me feel very comfortable in my own skin. And very glad to be 33, established and experienced (albeit knowing that I know very little compared to my parents and elders) compared to my 24-year-old lost self. It's been quite the ride and it's only week 2. I am a yogi at heart. Not a gym rat. That time has long since passed. My intentions, however, are to enjoy the ride. I'm glad I can recognize the familiar scenery in this second pass.

I am not running in place. But looping back for a look at how good things are... no-one should argue with that. Free, intimate, growing, succeeding. Yes.

For What I Have Got

The last few weeks have been financial chaos. Trying to plan for this Europe trip in the midst of a stock market collapse, a record-low dollar vs Euro, my own company's stock falling over 50% in 3 months and then my bellwether, Apple (AAPL), falling 20% in a week and 35% in a few months.

I suppose as a single individual it's easy to get caught up in what I don't have. I don't have a partner to share my mortgage, a "plan" for when the going gets tough to tighten the belt -- it's already tight being single in SoCal or a second income to fall back on if my company were to commence lay-offs given the fiscal outlook.

But today, sitting outside and enjoying the 65 degree weather that has blessed us between two giant low-pressure rainstorms, it's become a lot easier to see the other side of things. The side where I am blessed. The side where I own this entire town home by myself in Orange County and have made each and every payment for 5 years and still managed to save money every month to prepare for a day when I retire 30 years from now. The side where I just moved into a private office at work because my work is appreciated and rewarded year after year. That same side where I am still in my early thirties, healthy, in love and completely open to do what I want to every weekend.

So when I roll out of bed at 7am, hit yoga for 90 minutes surrounded by folks who know and appreciate my effort, clean my car which I still love and own, pick up leaves in my yard and see the blooms of a fast-approaching Spring (the yard which is paid for and OK for one more month of living, one more month of growth) and then make myself a delicious breakfast of organic, local food, prepare my home for some new furniture my father made by hand, pet my kitties in the sun, drink some shade-grown coffee, air out the house and then write a blog in the sun... well, you get the idea.

Thank you universe. I apologize for fretting about AAPL. I trust you. I promise I am still free and intimate, growing and succeeding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Relationship Wishes & Owlbear Dreams

I have had a series of disturbing and extremely vivid dreams lately. The strangest part of this is not that I've had them but rather that I actually remember them two days later and have given them enough thought to warrant a blog entry.

Let me explain the most recent one from this past Sunday night. It involved the capture (or raising) of a dinosaur-type creature that walked on two legs and had some type of duck bill. Somehow, in a cage in the San Francisco Zoo, I ended up trapped with this creature. More odd than that was that my girlfriend was a duck in the dream. Yes, a duck.

Did I mention these dreams were strange?

So anyway, the creature was very angry; I would be angry too if I was the last duck-billed dinosaur on Earth and was on display in the middle of a metropolitan zoo. Anyway, the creature attacked me in the dream. I was holding my girlfriend, the duck, who was squished in the subsequent attack. That made me very angry. So in turn I savagely attacked the dino-creature.

It was not until today that I realized what the dinosaur was. It was some kind of meld of two childhood memories:
  1. Dino from the Flintstones
  2. An "Owl Bear" from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Vol 1
I realize I am not normal. However this transcends the category of "strange dreams". What I have invented here, in my imagination, is a creature that combines Hanna Barbara and 1980's nerd roll-playing fantasy games.

In my own psycho-analysis I think I am concluding that my girlfriend is a soft, white creature whom I wish to protect from a violent and disturbing world. When that world crushes my plan it comes in the form of my own childhood which leads to violent rage.

IN SUMMATION -- my immaturity has potential to kill my relationship; if it does, the outcome will not be positive. If you can look at the two creatures above and keep a straight face (or not) then let me know if you think I need to be committed. I consider the dream to be a forewarning to myself: don't be a fool. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good lesson for the whole of humanity.