I’ve been going to this 7:30am weekend yoga class for— I don’t know, maybe six months now? it’s crazy in precisely the way I like best: both the class itself and the semi-absurd hour require a certain brand of asceticism and self-discipline. Often difficult yoga classes are fast-moving and involve the kind of poses that double as party tricks; Chad’s favorite thing to do it is to put us in some tiny, impossible variation of a basic posture, and ask us to hold it. Last week we did plank on the tops of our feet for a while, and I was sore all over for days after.
The class is also on the other side of the city, a solid fifteen miles of freeway I basically refuse to navigate unless it’s an ungodly hour of the morning and I’m the only person awake to see it. It’s nice once you get there, though. The studio is blocks from the ocean. When we’re done I put on a sweater, buy myself a coffee, and walk a quarter mile up to the Santa Monica Pier.
By then it’s 9am, and the Pier is milling with tourists; there are always lines and lines of surfers bobbing out past the breaking waves, wetsuits dark against the water. Men fish off the sides, sometimes with their young sons in tow. Tourists regularly ask me to take their pictures.
I’ve only lived two places in my life, really, and both of them were close to the shoreline. In New Haven it was the Long Island Sound— waveless, with tiny, ugly beaches, but still: ocean. Brine. All of that salt. It’s an industrialized coast, and it was easy to forget about it, but then I’d be walking to my yoga studio there in the fog and hear gulls crying, and smell the particular scent that is warm saltwater dissolved in air.
Sometimes I feel like it really is crazy— like, bad crazy— to organize my life around being able to go to class, to leave parties early so I can get up on time in the morning. It’s hard to justify doing so much in order to ensure that you get time to yourself, to work with yourself. All I’m doing is putting my body in shapes, and breathing, and trying not to worry while I do it. After I take a walk by myself and drink coffee. But in the telling it seems: self-involved, selfish, anti-social, vain, obsessive.
In the first place, though, I am all of those things, and there is no use in pretending otherwise. But also why do I have to justify my pleasure to anyone else? It takes up my time; it takes my time away from other people, sometimes, or other projects. That’s fine. I make time for them, other pieces of it. I guess the thing is that I can’t justify it to other people, because I don’t do it for other people, and I don’t trust my own evaluation of my behavior because, you know, vain obsessive anti-social etc. But isn’t that the really crazy part? That there’s this thing I love to do, and some days I feel weird or guilty about doing it?
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