It is 6:30 a.m. and the Internet is down, as it often is. I am sore and contemplating just taking it easy today and getting a massage. I need to liberate myself my penchant of pushing harder and harder and harder. It’s time to go softer, softer, and softer until I stop hearing myself grinding.
With a lot of free time on my hands, I turn my attentions to freedom. One of the metaphors for freedom is a bird flying. Freedom is often thought of as an ascent and possibly it is, but the initial feeling of freedom is being let go and going into a free fall. The letting go of freedom initially sends you on a scary fall, as if in an elevator whose cables have snapped. I have discovered that I can’t let go that much, only a little: I always have to hold on to something. That something I hold on to may be the customs in my culture or a recurring feeling or thought. But I am always holding on to something, to conventions of society or the conventional way I think.
One last thought about freedom. If flying is our metaphor for freedom, what would the metaphor for freedom for a bird be? It would it be something other than flying, wouldn’t it? It would have to be something unconventional. Maybe for a bird the metaphor for freedom is invisibility or collecting coupons, or driving a car in India. Freefalling seems to be away from convention.
Does the bird have to stop flapping its wings to be free?
This kind of thinking leads me to believe I need more than a massage to get out the kinks in my system.
Before the massage, I took a long walk. First, I walked over the Laxman Jhoula Bridge and straddled the busy winding road to a taxi stand and caught a taxi to Rishikesh City and the sprawling marketplace. The difference between where I am staying is this: in my area the commercial and spiritual are intermixed, in Rishikesh City it’s primarily commercial. Of course, I am attracted to a store with a swastika over its entrance. As a Jew, this is not the most welcoming of gestures, but the swastika stands for “all is well” in Hindi. I bring a small block of sugarcane to the casher (who’s probably the owner) and he comps me. Later, I return to buy more and again he refuses to let me pay. This time, I just throw him a bill and scurry out of the shop. Needed some money so I went to ATM and soft-spoken dude in a light orange robe coaxed me to take him to the store and buy him a larger container of soy or milk mix.
Massage right around the corner, a young guy recommended by his sister, who probably is the daughter of the owner of the adjacent general store. Let me say I felt like a million bucks afterwards. . . . But his methods—walking all over me–made me a little uncomfortable. After the massage, I walk over the Laxman Jhoula Bridge again in search of the Durga Dance Academy where they do hip-hop and Bollywood. I was willing to buy stuff from a vendor just for directions, but he didn’t know and I end up buying assam tea in what look to be teak boxes from him and rope sandals from his friend. I return to the restaurant where I lunched and take a picture of the flier for this dance place and ask for directions to it. I’m hoping to do Bollywood tonight and if not tonight within the next days.
I also want to get into a silent retreat for a few days and climb to the top of one of mountains and visit a temple up there. Today, I freed myself from the routine of yoga.
During my free fall from convention, I screamed, but came down to the ground gracefully, just the way I’m supposed to come down, one leg at a time after elbow stand.