Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life out west

So, I haven't been the best about keeping in touch with everyone, which is not really like me but everyone gets that way from time to time. A lot has changed in my life in the past few months and the fun is just beginning.

Let's see, since the beginning of the year I moved to California, started a new graduate school program, started a new teaching job, searched for/recently found an apartment, planned a wedding and of course spent a fair share of time studying. Yes, I've been busy, but thanks to my wonderful intern who provides stellar weekly acupuncture treatments and my daily yoga practice, I am rolling with it all.

On to what I really want to share...funny happenings in California. For the most part, living in Orange County is very similar to Johnson County. In general, things look polished and suburbia is flourishing with restaurants, targets, starbucks and strip malls. Well, there are probably more starbucks here when compared to JoCo, but I suppose that is just in proportion to the number of people living here.

It's not all same, same though. It's far more culturally diverse than living in Kansas. This past Friday I went to visit a mosque in a Middle Eastern community with a Muslim friend of mine, followed by a deliciously authentic falafel lunch. One of the people I live with is from El Salvador, various Asian restaurants are just around the corner and a few of my saved radio stations are Spanish.

Then, there are the few things I've noticed in California that make me laugh, and it's definitely not the traffic. Well, that's not entirely true, one thing is how people react to rain, which is related to traffic. In short, it's a very big deal here. Just last week, one of my professors waited ten minutes before starting class because it was sprinkling out. The biggest concern of course is how rain affects traffic, or in other words, people's lack of the ability to drive while it's raining.

Ok, so there is one more traffic related topic...speed limit and lane changing rules. It seems to me that neither of these are enforced. I've seen people driving their BMWs like complete jackasses cruising five lanes over, no signal needed. Seriously? The term "texas lane change" had to come from LA.

There are other minor differences of course, but it's still the land of the free or at least that's the idea. Oh, and there happens to be this really large body of water about 30 minutes away, I think they call it the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, the majority don't seem to notice it or the way it's being so poorly treated.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Luna de miel...

With only two months left on our long distance journey, I'm finding it more challenging to live in the present moment. I bring myself back again and again, but before I do that...

Thomas and I have known each other for less than a month. We are sitting on a dock on a small island in Panama, listening to really bad reggae music blasting from an early 90's sound system. To top it off, we are drinking rum and coke out of plastic cups, which is as classy as it gets on Isla Bastimentos. I don't remember exactly, but most likely there are children playing in the background. On this island there are always children running around with no parents in sight. Although this wouldn't normally be considered 'romantic,' we are in complete la-la (or as Thomas and I would say "lulu") land; you know, that phase of the relationship when everything is no less than perfect.  

Hesitantly, I say the following: "I think I'm falling in love with you." The few seconds it takes to get a response seem like hours. Then comes a slight laugh, a moment of self-doubt, followed by: "I already did." I don't think either of us said much of anything for a good while after that.

Our nine day Panama trip was a big milestone despite the short time we had known each other. You learn a lot about each other spending 24 hours a day together for nine days in a row, as I'm sure you can imagine. Even if I try, I cannot remember a single thing about that trip that I found annoying or cumbersome in any way. The five hours we spent standing on a bus going across a small mountain range on winding roads was spent talking about everything you could imagine. When we wanted to do something, we did it and when we wanted to just do nothing, we did that too. We hiked the tallest peak in Panama one day and spent the whole day laying around the next. No games, no guessing what the other person wanted to do or wondering how to act, just choosing free will moment to moment.

In retrospect that was one of the greatest lessons of all in yoga and life. Two people can be in relationship with each other free of conflict and complaint. We hear that conflict is good and it's ok to fight, and of course when ego comes into play (and it always does at some point) conflicts are there to be had and there is no reason to judge that as bad. However, I believe it is possible to have a relationship free of conflict and complaint. I've been there on occasion. That's not to say that Thomas and I are living some eternal bliss. We have also had so-called hard times in our relationship, when ego creeps in to play a bigger and bigger role. However, the knowledge and understanding of our potential plays a crucial role in our ability to keep moving and evolving individually and together.

Whether you have been married for years or never want to have any kind of long term commitment, we could all benefit from taking a moment to consider this potential to have conflict free relationships. It's something we speak of often in yoga philosophy and I would say it's a key teaching of many of the world's religions. Peace. Happiness. Free will. Harmony. All different ways to describe the same concept that penetrates the essence of the human experience.