Friday, October 05, 2007

No Sleep 'Til...

Brooklyn. I'd never been out here before. Monday morning I found myself in Park Slope, walking Flatbush Avenue, a name I knew from a lousy Stallone film. I was out to here to visit Shivani, a friend I'd met up in Vermont at PRYT training last June. After practice, she and I could often be found at the Bobcat, drinking beers and swapping India war stories. In the yoga world, it is a delight to find those who 'keep it real." We spent the day wandering her 'hood, down the old streets lined with brownstones, up the Avenues lined with trendy cafes and used bookstores. Whereas nearby Williamsburg is better known as an artistic enclave, Park Slope is where the more moneyed set went to escape rising Manhattan rents. There is a cool vibe here too, but it costs more. A nice exception is the Tea Lounge, where I spent most of my time. It's the sort of hipster cafe where you sip your Italian coffee not behind a well-thumbed paperback, but in front of your laptop. A silver MacBook seems to be the black beret of the current decade. I felt anachronistic in reading my novel. The bathroom here was filled with graffiti of a political theme and next to one bit about the British responsibility in creating the Palestine mess, someone had written the Boddhisattva vow. MCA perhaps?

Mid-afternoon, I arrived back in Connecticut. Literally five minutes off the train, I suddenly felt exhausted. While in the city, had I been 'girding' myself against potential harm? Here in the safety of the countryside, could I finally let go? It's bizarre, especially since I had felt no danger at all. There were a couple sketchy looking characters on the train, but I never for a minute felt in harm's way. New York is a far safer place than I remember. I was reminded of a friend telling me how after he returned home from years in Japan, he found himself scared of black people and felt guilty about it. I can understand, but after giving it more thought I realized it was something else. One of the major benefits of martial arts study is the ability to recognize (and avoid) potential threats. I found that my instances of fear were rooted more in a reaction to how a person presented themselves, that way which screams, "Don't even think about fucking with me!" I found that I was reacting to the body language, not to the skin color. On this particular trip, the most intimidated I felt was when approaching a group of four tall white dudes done up in baggy hip hop style and walking down the dark street in that loose-jointed way that Tom Wolfe so brilliantly dubbed the "pimp roll."
There's nothing wrong with a little caution. As the proverb says, "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel to the post."

On the turntable: Kronos Quartet, "Performs Phillip Glass"
On the nighttable: Peter Moore, "The Wrong Way Home"

1 comment:

Ben F said...

Makes me want to be back on the East Coast. Can we see Arellano's work on the web anywhere?