The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 14
Integral Yoga, as taught by Sri Swami Satchidananda—close in spirit to the Tibetan stuff I was learning about, worlds apart from the methods and intent of the yoga classes offered in urban studios throughout the west—brought together all five schools that grew from Hindu origin.
I cheated a lot, focusing on Hatha and breath control, plus throwing in push ups, stretching exercises, squats, asanas I’d learned from other sources. Most notable over my 15 year practice was that in the beginning, the asanas forced the breath to behave a particular way. Then later, it was the breath assuming control over the asanas.
Nothing like yoga in the soft sand at the base of that mesa, gazing across that enormous horizon of what seemed like Sheila’s sister’s home planet, as early spring began planting molecular color pods across the low desert.
I giggled whenever I thought about how the people I knew must have spent Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day. The only way I knew those holidays were even happening was by the merchandise being sold in the stores I so infrequently visited.
A series of freakishly powerful thunderstorms hit three days consecutively. Sound cracked, rattling the ground, traveling from one end of the sky to the other. Crazy lightning. Then rainbows. Everywhere. Then the eeriest full moon. Eery because the last low broken storm clouds moved in slow motion across it as it rose and hovered, reminding me of a night out here years ago—my first getaway in four years from the interior plantscape and floral design business I owned in L.A..
My clients back then, mainly behind-the-scenes Hollywood people, included a few celebs. One of them, an actress, upon learning of my vacation plans, gave me a going away present. Two presents. Two fat marijuana cigarettes.
“This one,” she said, “is for when you’re going to be around people, and want to be able to communicate properly. This one is for when you don’t give a shit. DON’T,” she stressed, “get them mixed up.”
I did, unfortunately. And after driving in through the low desert, getting up into higher country, I cracked the first of a few beers as the same moon appeared. The Bitches Brew album by Miles Davis rumbled through the car’s interior as I pulled on to the dirt road at Squaw Tank—my final memory of that night.
I woke up at dawn, the right side of my face against the ground, a gash over my right eye, the driver’s side car door wide open, engine running, Miles still looping, flies circling, the smell of stale beer vomit.
Nice vacation, after that: poolside, mostly, down in chic Palm Desert.
But now was in no way like then. The next morning—the sun stealing the mesa’s shadow, the desert chaparral shimmering under its warmth—you could literally witness wildflowers sprout. By late afternoon the topography, horizon to horizon, sang in shades of pink, purple, pale blue-violet and amber.