I Am A Success

"I’ve never seen anyone wearing tzitzit in a kundalini yoga studio.

"In fact, I’ve never seen anyone wearing tzitzit in any yoga studio."

I get my hot tea and turn around.

She has short hair and a big silver nose ring. She looks about 22. She’s big and healthy and tattooed. She has average looks.

"You’re Jewish?"

"Yes. Sarah."

"Where are you from?"

"From LA."

"Where did you go to high school?"

"I didn’t go to high school. I got my GED.

"This is my first time here."

"What brings you?"

"He does."

She points at a big black man with a working-class London accent.

"When did you come to America?" I ask him.

"1989. I wanted something different. A different attitude. Different opportunities. I want to get away from the grey dreary weather.

"We came today for the Togo class."

"Oh, I heard about that," I say. "How is it different from the toga parties that fraternities throw?"

"No, Togo. It’s a country in Africa."

"Oh, where is it?"

"Next to Ghana."

"Oh, that helps. That’s really useful. Next to Ghana. Yes, I can see right where it is.

"Where the hell is Ghana?"

"Near Nigeria."

"Oh, thank you so very very much. Most helpful. Thank you, thank you. Where’s Nigeria?"

"West Africa."

"Thank you."

The teacher walks in.

"Hi teacher!" I say. "How are you?

"Wait, I know. You can’t say. You’re a kundalini yoga instructor. You can only present a positive happy attitude, but inside I know you’re crying and you normally feel safe sharing how torn up you are but you can’t now because other people are in the room, but I understand and empathize with your anguish and as far as your vast adoring public goes, you’re fantastic. You and I know better, but we’ll keep that on the down low. You and I know how much you love ice cream and secular music and hot baths."

"Is this your first kundalini yoga class?" the teacher asks the mixed-race couple.

"I’ve done it once or twice," says the black man.

"Once," she says.

They leave.

The teacher talks about his wife.

"You’re both into this kundalini yoga thing," I observe.

He smiles.

He’s got a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. His parents are Jewish. Now he wears white and grows a beard and sports a turban and runs a natural foods company.

"Are you married?" he asks.

"No," I say. "Surprisingly no. Ladies, why is this man still single?"

"A lot of single ladies come to kundalini yoga," says the teacher.

"Yes, I thought about that once or twice before I signed up."

"Most yoga classes are 70% female but mine tends to be about 50/50."

"That’s because you’re such a man’s man," I think.

"I’m primarily here for the spiritual teachings," I say.

"So that’s why you sit in the back checking everyone out," he says.

"Well, I sit in the back so I can best digest your teachings."

I walk into the room and find my spot at the back. I lay out my borrowed mat, run my legs up the wall, slide my head on to two cushions, and meditate about what is truly important in life.

Every few minutes, more of what is Truly Important in Life walks in.

I check out what is Truly Important in Life and meditate about the higher things.

The teacher begins his teachings.

The door keeps swinging open and more of What is Truly Important in Life walks in.

I’m like a starving man who’s seated at a banquet but is not allowed to touch the food.

Cruel cruel fate! At least back in Australia I always had my pet wallaby and a few abos to play with.

"You are unbelievably crude," she had said, "and rude to so many people. Much of the time, you take no care with your appearance. Your life in many ways is a mess. And worst of all, you’re religious."

Two-thirds of the way through class, we do a meditation to the Indian-accented teachings of the Great Man.

With the right hand resting on the left in front of my diaphragm — oy, the diaphragm, the cause of so much blood and suffering and bringing with it none of that promised spontaneous sex — I chant, "I am successfull."

Afterwards, the teacher asks us to partner up. I’m surrounded by What is Truly Important in Life but the person next to me is a homely old lady and I partner up with her and we discuss what we understand by success.

"Success means doing work you enjoy for people you respect, not doing work you hate for people you loathe," I say. "Success means having the freedom to go where you want and doing what you want.

"Success means living up to your highest self, not stumbling around doing things half-assed."

"What work do you do?" she asks.

"I’m a writer."

"I could tell you were creative," she says. "Who are your favorite writers?"

"Tom Wolfe, Vladimir Nabokov."

We finish class.

Just before she leaves, the old lady turns to me and says, "I’m sure you’ll fill their shoes."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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