Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Austerities and Iron Man 2

I’ve been integrating a new practice of reading some Gurumayi (Swami Chidvilasanda) every day. Her writing is really delightful, and so accessible. “The Yoga of Discipline” is such a great extension of what we’re practicing in class, so helpful as I work to integrate yoga throughout my life, even at my job (challenge of all challenges). I’ve almost finished the book, and am engaged in my super-dweeby habit now of copying favorite passages into my notebook. There’s something about that particular practicing of physically making the letters that burns the words into my memory, carried by the visual of my handwriting on the page.

So it seemed really funny to me to be sitting in a gigantic theater with a really loud sound system on Saturday night, watching Iron Man 2 on opening weekend with Joe and two of my darling yoga buddies. I spent most of probably the whole second half of the movie with my right ear pressed against Joe's left shoulder, my left hand covering my left ear, eyes closed. That movie was just so freaking loud, so many guns firing, and explosions, and yelling. And with my ears blocked and my eyes covered, all I could think about was Gurumayi's words on the importance of discipline in seeing, on considering what we let in through the eyes, what we express back out.

When you have discipline in seeing, you see everyone, and you act like a proper human being in whom God dwells. You wait, you pause, you act with awareness. Discipline in seeing becomes part of everything you do.

What else can be done? Choosing what you read. You don't have to read every novel that comes along. You can choose what you're going to read. And what about movies and television? The senses are attracted to those things. You may say, 'Well, why should I limit my God-given freedom? My senses want to watch violent movies; my senses want to watch somebody being killed -- just in a movie, of course, not in real life.' This is where you need discipline. You need to be careful about what you take in because toxins and impurities accumulate in your body. Then even digesting your food becomes very difficult because so many harmful energies have been allowed inside your system.

OK, so Iron Man 2, in that context? Let's be honest: Robert Downey, Jr. can do no wrong in my book. I'll watch pretty much anything he's in, just for the pleasure of watching him say words. There's something about that guy that I really, really like - it could be (it most likely is) just a projection on my part, but it's enjoyable. I liked the first movie -- I generally like cartoon-y movies, it surprised me, and again, Robert Downey, Jr. -- so there doesn't have to be a whole lot of logic involved. Oh, and hang on: let's not forget that Mickey Rourke is in it, and he fascinates my eye. Plus, they did a great job on the Russian prison tattoos on him, and he didn't too badly butcher the accent. In a different way, something so intriguing about Rourke -- both actors have such an interesting life story, so much of which is written all over their faces.

But I have to admit that it was a bit of a let-down, in two ways. One, I didn't think the movie was that great. I enjoyed scenes with people in them, but really didn't like all of the robot bullshit and the shooting, and the writing was weak and the female characters just so flat. [Scarlett Johansen: really? That fight scene was so lame!] But second, and most significant to me, it was a let-down that I spent two hours and $10.75 to let that unfold before my eyes, when I could have been doing something so much more beneficial. A let-down.

I hope this doesn't mean I'm becoming a total sour-puss stick-in-the-mud who can't go see a summer blockbuster and enjoy the ride. I'm telling myself it's just that this wasn't the right ride, not a good-enough ride to make the trade-off worthwhile, and hoping that this isn't an occupational hazard, the inevitable result of reading so many yogic texts and working so hard on integrating yoga into the rest of my life.

I'll be testing that theory soon. After all, the new Robin Hood comes out this weekend.

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