Monday, January 6

the road to where?

one week ago, at brunchtime on the sparkly penultimate day of December 2013, I spent two hours guzzling hot cocoa with friend Wilson (who does not have a blog, but does regularly post wonderfully thoughtful and provocative things on facebook). we discussed many things over our sugary beverages: families and freedoms and connectedness and consequences. we told each other long stories and caught up on each others' lives a bit. it had been at least seven years since we'd spent much time in the same vicinity. I think at least since back around this little era of my life. long ago. that version of this amelia girl seems a long way away.
{ photo borrowed from A. Hoffritz on flickr. }

at one point Wilson and I came around to the subject of good intentions, their worth and efficacy. I don't remember the very beginning of that conversation, but I remember cringing a little and conceding that in so many spaces, it isn't ever what you intend, but what happens to result. it can't be what you meant, it has to be what all those other humans in the world interpret. yes, okay, I see... but really?

once, much longer ago than last week, I was asked, in exactly this odd mathematical construction, if I thought "inferences > implications or vice versa?" the questioner meant to say, "which has greater weight when it comes to meanings made and shared and used to construct what has happened and why?" is it the meaning in your own head, the implicit, transcendent mush behind all the words and gestures you're making to your friend or partner or colleague? or is it the meaning that person is building, piecing together from her memories and experiences with you and your world and your shared vocabularies of sounds and spaces?

I am still not sure I can answer. you need them both, or you're only talking to yourself, right? does one of them have to be > or < at all? is there no way to = them or smooth them closer to each other? no way to make a little more certain that they match?

last Monday when I brought up the low-rung place intention seems to keep, Wilson elaborated interestingly on the whole idea. whenever we speak or act, we usually get to learn things about how the world works, how the world will respond (re-speak? react?) to our movements. our intentions are answered by those results, those interpretations, and if we find they do not match what we intended or expected, then we'll know better how to speak or act in our next set of circumstances. at least, hopefully we will.
{ photo borrowed from Sarah Ross on flickr. }

the beginnings of a million yoga classes and yoga videos will tell you, everso calmly and confidently, to set an intention for your practice. quiet your whirring mental contraptions and come to light on one small thing--any lovely little thing--one thing you and your yoga might accomplish together in the next hour or half or however long. one candle-bright thing with which to fill your world and your mind and your life in seeking, moment by moment, more breath, more joy, more peace.

set an intention, they will say. and then in the middle of the million yoga classes, again: reconnect to your intention. tune in, remember, bring awareness to, focus on. intend.

I'm struck by the similarities to 'attend' and 'tend.' they all have slightly different but unsurprisingly analogous etymologies. 'tend' looks to be a shortened alternate of 'attend,' and their history goes back to the Old French "to direct one's mind or energies," "to expect, wait for, pay attention," or more literally from Latin, "to stretch toward." the direction seems important here. the destination. the discipline. we must attend to what is. no effort of ours will necessarily make a difference.

this is only a hair or two different from the etymology of 'intend', which gives "direct one's attention to," also from Old French, and then from Latin, "turn one's attention, strain," or "stretch out, extend." and here, is the center more important? is this version a little bit more egocentric? more powerful, more wild? is this where we can gently start to bend reality?

both words share roots in the Latin tendere, or "stretch." and I suppose to stretch must imply more space than a single point, no matter which (the center or the edge, the to or the from) gets the focus. all this stretching and turning and yoga go pretty awesomely together. there is a substance to be stretched and space to stretch across--both are just as crucial. the resonant tones + the silences between them. the great nothingness of space + the little spheres of something scattered around it, all pulling and tugging at each other. there is the you and all the not-quite-you. the dust and the sunlight, inside and outside and everywhere. a whole lot more of our brunchtime conversation could fit here; we talked about the oneness of the universe, our limited abilities to do anything about anything, and the paradoxical, quantum possibilities of all things--but nobody wants this blogpost to go on forever.

Wilson's parting thought was something like "may the eventual results of our good intentions be well-matched to what we intend," which I thought was just about as profound and poetic a prayer as any.
{ photo borrowed again from Sarah Ross on flickr. } 

ours was, as most awesome, beverage-accompanied chats with friends are, much too short a chat. with any luck we'll fulfill an intention to meet up again before another seven years stretches by.

for the moment, I am going to put my memories and wonderings away and embark on a short, solitary practice of equalling out my intentions and attentions with the calm and confident Adrienne Mishler. may all your good intentions for this brand new 2014 lead you to happy, well-lit, friendly, open places too.  

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