Rehabilitation of a Yogi: Desire, Alexander McQueen, and Patience
June 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Alexander McQueen exhibit stirs up emotions via the senses of sight, sound and touch (don’t touch the exhibits, but ooh those feathers look so soft, and the leather, and the chains). Taste and smell are less obviously involved, but to me the exhibit is like a spicy Mexican hot chocolate: thick and dark, bitter and sweet, with a strong jolt of spice.
The show inspires longing, craving, stirs up the quintessential human elements of desire. To see, to know, to own, to understand, to possess – the gown, the headpiece, the model, the designer. McQueen’s vision is full of sensuality, romance and power dynamics.
“I really care about a woman’s independence. I don’t like her to look so naive and so fragile. I like her to look stronger. If a man goes up to her, he has to have balls to go up to her. I don’ t like her to be taken advantage of.” – Alexander McQueen
Wearing an Alexander McQueen dress is a trip. The gown itself is thin and fragile, but once in place it feels like body armor. The silk drapes, tightens, holds, cinches and caresses in all the right places. It’s magic. And I would guess that any woman feels powerful, centered in her femininity, strong and confident when confronted with such obvious delight, respect and care for her curves, softness and resilience.
Experiencing a moment of true bliss, – be it in a perfect outfit, perfect day at the beach, or a hand that molds perfectly to one’s waist, – there’s the moment itself, a perfect sparking bauble. And then there’s the tug of wanting to stay in it, to hold on, to grasp, to hold. It’s human, this tendency, not a reason to get angry or upset at yourself. The moment passes and a week later one looks back and remembers how glorious it felt, and there’s the desire again. I want to go back there. I want to be back there in the past, in that moment when I felt the bliss. Impermanent is our blessing and our curse, our joy and our sorrow. The pain, it passes. The pleasure, it also passes. What’s left is desire, wanting to hold on, or go back, or go forward, away from what is happening right now. If I notice this clenching in the belly, I can breathe into it, I can gently lay down the story (sometimes) and stay with the feeling for as long as it’s there. It takes patience to stay with that’s happening.
Patience means more than waiting. It means developing a cheerful attitude, cultivating contentment within the current situation. Although the current circumstances may not be the imagined ideal, may not be the fantasy, may not look like “what I want,” – nonetheless the present is perfectly workable, perfectly wonderful, and fully truly real. There is nothing else. Really. Everything else is just… thinking. I can notice the thought and watch it float away.
“I wish it wasn’t raining.” Thinking.
“I’m so glad it’s raining. I hope tomorrow is cooler than yesterday.” Thinking.
“I’m such a loser for being home alone on a Saturday night.” Thinking.
“I’m so cool for following my instincts and staying home on this Saturday night to take care of my finances, emotions, and chores. Maybe next weekend I can go out. Or maybe next weekend I’ll stay home again. I wish X would call me. I miss him. When will I see him again?” Thinking.
“My tummy hurts. Why did I eat all that pizza today? What an idiot!” Thinking.
“Tomorrow I’m going to eat healthy and do a lengthy intense yoga asana practice. That will feel great.” Thinking.
“The ice cream was really a bad call. Why didn’t I have a salad like I wanted? I need to listen to myself better to provide nutritionally balanced fuel for my body. When I eat pizza and ice cream for lunch, and then for dinner, I feel crappy. Tomorrow I’m going to do better.” Thinking.
Desire pulls me out of myself into the infinite universe of possibilities. The breath patiently brings me back to the Now. The present moment is where those possibilities have a chance of being realized. Desire and patience are tragic romantic partners. Like the electron spinning around the nucleus of the atom, desire is dancing with patience. They are inseparable, miserable and ecstatic in their delicious swirling torment.
All photos courtesy of Olga Timofeyev.
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