The Art of the Muddle

Last week, I missed loads of things that matter, because I was busy with other things that matter (mostly, I’d describe last week as busy with an other thing that mattered: triage of the one parent with four kids while the dear husband and co-parent was out of town). Anyway, I missed the blog entirely (apologies; I decided everyone who reads it would understand) and I missed yoga entirely (apologies to me).

The week before I’d gone to yoga class and at the beginning the teacher made a comment about how yoga helps her to be more loving. I sent an email later (apropos of something else, mostly) in which I told her I’d left class and as I walked across the street, I thought to myself: “Not more loving, but less angry.”

As I wrote it, I thought to myself that it was a remark I both meant and meant jokingly, but actually I felt it. She wrote back: “To me the ultimate gift of yoga is transformation. Embracing anger, moving through it… doing something about a situation we are angry about in a constructive way… then perhaps our heart opens more. I partly meant that yoga helps us love ourselves more, or, offers that possibility. There is no automatic experience (I went to yoga class and now I feel more loving!), no experience we are supposed to have, but there is what we make of the experience we are having and what we do with it -that’s where alignment and yoga come in.”

If life imitates art or art life, then the same must be true of yoga (I knew that, I’ve lived here amongst the yoga peeps for a long time). I get it now, though, in my body and even my heart. When I use the word “practice” I hear the other yoga teacher’s voice in my mind. Even last week, yoga-less in the physical practice, I got that I practiced all week.

Okay, that’s all I will say about yoga for now. I’ll add that I am a believer in practice as the real goods of life. See also, process. People who make things know what I mean. Writers know. My young gymnast does not know that she knows, but she knows. I like practice and I like process. That’s fortunate as I have four kids to instill respect in this to and I happen to live in a little city filled with therapists and yoga teachers.

Above: Chin-up Below: Casting and Candestick

Not unrelated exactly, in my quest a few weeks ago to find glass swizzle sticks (unsuccessful; I got chemistry stirrers), I learned on a cocktail accoutrement site what a muddler is—essentially a pestle for cocktail preparation (more process!).I love the name, as muddle is another word for practice and process when you get down to it, a less fancy, lofty, optimistic one, but one nonetheless.

It’s all I can do not to buy one right now, a muddler.

However, I am grateful for the muddle, both the noun of it and the verb.

Linked today to my essay on Brain, Child, essentially about a by-product of muddle, which is awe, an essay about beds and marriage and Breaking Bad on Full Grown People, also about process and for fun, to this Sesame Street video that parodies Homeland. I’d have given you the Wes Anderson spoof from SNL, but despite how funny it is, spookiness and Halloween aren’t my favorite things and I can’t bring myself to conjure Thursday, not really. I’ll muddle through it! Saskia wants to be a bumblebee and she has both dress and antennae already (score!) and I am one roll of caution tape away from Remy’s costume, so hooray. It’ll be an easy muddle.

And then there’s the hair

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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