Exposed. Willing to Undress.

Reposted from Exposed in the Journal pages of Originally posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 – 12:32 am _MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

Toward winter’s end the land is laid bare and the grayest of days reveal tints of silver, sage, teal, aqua, tan, taupe, smoke, umber and sienna.

No leaf is left to dress and every bird nest bared shows well for the next tenants.
I walk alone or with my dogs, no gaggle of geese with me, counting steps and calories.
Why stay on the roads when the deer have made such lovely paths for me!

There are treasures here and I collect things in my pockets to carry some mystery home.
In this cold bright air stands a cluster of pines by a stream I’d never noticed beyond the usual veil of deciduous forest and I raise my nose like my dogs will and draw deep in hopes of finding an offering of that favorite fragrance hovering in the stillness.

Rob Lindsay photo/Radnor

Rob Lindsay photo/Radnor

Here is someone’s driveway and farther in the woods a quiet home of moss covered stone that seems to grow from the ground and here is a guest cottage overgrown with ivy nearly hidden in a tiny sunken meadow.
Bare now is a long gone pet’s worn headstone in a neighboring yard which summer sheltered in wild grass.

A cluster of daffodils heralds Spring and marks the headstone from afar and I think
How could the daffodils shine so well if competing with the sun?

And like a photographer shines his light brightly to dissolve the details of a model’s skin so that no wrinkle or shadow mare the beauty,
By the absence of the sun, in this grayness I can see every shadow, and detail, and texture of the trees.
They have faces and bodies.
They have battle scars and history written upon them.
By their rawness, I’m drawn in.
Such honesty welcomes me to my self by example and I feel at home here.

Hilary Lindsay acrylic on canvas

Hilary Lindsay acrylic on canvas

I consider the contrast of humans. How are we fully appreciated or approachable as covered up as we are?
How are we at home with each other?
It’s a politically charged year for the nation. It’s a politically charged year for the yoga community. 

I wonder about the aversion we Americans have to discussing sensitive topics. I listen to two students of mine agree with each other that you never discuss politics or religion. One of them is a popular musician and the other a public figure. They are guarded for their livelihoods.

But I think of the emerald green glistening moss on a lichen covered rotting log that had captured my attention and imagination for more than just a passing glance on my walk and thought what a pity it is that we are too sensitive, too fragile to look at the beauty in the mold and rot and decay as well as the flowers.

Light’s camouflage does not remove these things but leaves them undiscovered and denies them the attention that might reveal there is beauty in the argument, there can be fury without hate, that our sensitivities to what we don’t understand need not be preserved by aversion but dispersed by discussion.

In the grayest of times, we are unveiled. If we were really home, would we not be willing to undress?


reprinted on Rebelle Society as Undressed.


Filed under allegory, nature, new age enlightenment, poetry, social commentary, Uncategorized, yoga, yoga and politics, yoga wisdom

7 responses to “Exposed. Willing to Undress.

  1. I wrote this five years ago, before bitchin yoga got born. I recalled a journal entry I had made on the Journal page of my working website on another gray day. It is the first snowfall in Nashville and I am most taken by the beauty and I thought this old journal entry was a worthy declaration of an opinion that has not changed and a society that is making some progress but might remember this caution.

  2. Some of us are too heavily armed to discuss sensitive topics with. Seriously, I trust your eye, Hilary, and I am encouraged that you see some progress. Shining a bright light helps to see better and fades the dark detail at the same time – brilliant, H. Thank you.

    • David, You put it well. We are already heavily armed. Maybe that is the secret to feeling powerless. The armor is heavy. When people pick up weapons of destruction because they feel powerless, weighted down, armed but not able to act, not able to be seen, things go badly.

      I do not see that getting better but in fact see that problem threatening to destroy our freedom. I see a potential for a police state, a witch hunt in which we are seeking out the “monsters”. I see gun store shelves empty of automatic weapons as they are now. I see that bullets come from Santa at Christmas. I say this because although I wrote that post five years ago about the beauty of truth I am now thinking of massacre nation which we have clearly become.

      What I do see, largely through media and the blogosphere and the internet, is that more people are becoming activists in small ways. There is a call to help and so many responses. There is great awareness that we can do better and that we have the power to create change.

      This is what I referred to in my comment.

      I wonder if the people buying guns are not also being honest. They are afraid. They are willing to say, I need a gun and I’m not ashamed. Or they are saying, this is my right and I don’t want you messing with me and I am comfortable with guns (for some reason). It is at least easy to recognize the people speaking their truth loudly. And though we wonder what makes someone comfortable with a weapon, it may be no different than wondering anything about any behavior at all. If we could have a non-defensive conversation, that would be a miracle. Who am I and what am I doing and why am I doing it? These are the reporters first questions. That is the conversation we need to have. Isn’t that why you and I chose yoga? Isn’t that why we believe in it?

      To be honest, as a bit of a recluse and a power of one, or so it mostly feels, I feel that all I have to offer is observation. And there is not much power in that unless it affects another. Words are my weapon and I try not to mince them. I find it easiest when I’m treated in kind. You always spark the conversation and that is the way out. So again, thank you.

      • I think your five-year-old post is still right on in that it is about the deep yoga of connection. That hasn’t changed. Progress? I’m with you that people are becoming active in small ways. Me, I don’t mind small ways. An unpleasant way to look at that fact is that rising activism is an indicator of a rising problem. I am pissed at the media for their corporate-interest, sensationalistic reporting. It’s hard to know what actually is going on.

        I was in the thick of gun ownership for a good part of my lifetime. I bought into the whole thing. Among other things, I was a cop in L.A. And you are correct, of course, that some people arm themselves out of fear. That can be innocent enough, but the fears can also be decidedly racial and stoked by the media. Then there are the gunslingers. That was my crowd. The “Make my day” guys (they might claim to be activists, too.) This is a bigger piece of the gun owner pie than we might want to acknowledge. I could be wrong, of course. But I am pretty good at reading sign.

        I think you are more than a power of one – or maybe the power of one is more than one. Either way, H, you are a good, strong voice. 2012 was worth it just to get to know you. Keep callin it like you see it.

      • I would agree that you are good at reading signs. You have quite a history my friend, Vietnam vet, L.A. cop, Kripalu Yoga teacher. I bow to your understanding of gun violence. I play devil’s advocate when I look for reason. I do not think that fear is simply innocent any more than any fault is innocent. All confused emotion is both innocent as it came in the night and not innocent as it is our dharma to uncover ourselves particularly when our innocent but wrong behavior may ruin or even harm another life.

        Beyond emotion there are the lessons taught by our parents and there is the habit of the culture, the religion, the schools. Now there’s the internet which can be enlightening or confusing, depending on what you bring to it. And there is a culture of pharmaceutical drugs given to a people who appear to largely be sick with one thing or another and I’m sure those pills are useful to some depending on what knowledge they bring to it and destructive to those who swallow anything in confusion.

        We are armed with technology that is unbelievably advanced and with sophisticated systems and structures. We just don’t know how to use it,to afford it, to advance with it in a comprehensive way that leaves no man behind. I am amazed by our progress and I’m dismayed and overwhelmed by it too but I still think we are moving forward. Somehow I just believe it.

        And yet, for me, I want more. I want a world where the systems and structures keep the world and its creatures safe from hunger and thirst and poverty without destroying any of it. I want a world where technology helps me to stay interested and engaged with the world but doesn’t crowd me or doesn’t mean I can’t live in a handbuilt cabin on a hill and not feel like a fool. I don’t want to spend my life fixing things but I want them fixed and I know that’s not fair but there it is. That’s my bratty truth. I can barely fix myself and in fact that takes a village. I want the village to be happy. I want to be part of that. So for me, being happy is the first and best step. I find it strange that that takes work as I age or as knowledge of present society assures me that I don’t do enough,don’t have enough and won’t be enough to stay afloat.

        And somehow I still see progress in this Western world. We understand that it is not alright to be cruel. Our laws say that. That is something. It really is. I take what I can get.

  3. I feel you, Hilary. No buts about it. An exciting aspect of the technology is its potential for grassroots communication across the world. Big Power needs to control that, but its hard to do. We read each others blogs from the other side of the world. I’m not one to speak out, but with the web I can put my 2 cents out there. You have a social critic’s voice (as well as an artist’s) and with the web, you have a platform. I find it very progressive that we don’t have to be vetted in order to speak. We don’t have to be politically connected, we don’t have to buy our way into it, we can just speak. And people have complete freedom to take our words as they will, for the very reason that we have no authority. It’s a beautiful thing! I think too that yoga is in its infancy in this country. It’s being exploited and commercialized right now, and that’s to be expected – that’s the way we roll. I don’t think that materialism can corrupt the actual teachings, because the actual teachings are the alternative to materialism. Yoga in the commercialized realm will encounter the same forces and scandals that anything else does in that realm. Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. We’re all subject to the karmic forces we’ve set up. So we deal with it. You’re going to keep teaching yoga and so am I and so are a lot of others. I do find hope in this. That’s a lot of good being put into the energetic mix. And I beg you to keep writing criticism while at the same time reporting on the hope and beauty that you see. And when it comes to guns, we insecure men are going to worry about whose is biggest. Whaddya gonna do. Yoga can help with this too, but it’s going to take a while.

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