This is the little I know.

I’ve just been trying to tell you this.

I.

Two years ago I was preoccupied with the idea of finding my home, with finding my people. Two years ago I started this blog, two years ago I fled the grey skies for the heat of India. I thought I was going to figure it all out. I wanted everything. I had nothing.

II.

Sometimes I forget I am 28 because I still feel like the lost child waiting for her mother to come home. It’s a funny life when the worst has already happened by age 15. When everyone is so desperate to grow up, you’ve already grown. And when everyone else finally grows you’ve grown even further. You’re out on the periphery, impatient, always waiting for everyone to catch up. And even when you know they’re not coming, you’re still waiting.

III.

But I still don’t feel angry. I don’t know why.

IV.

I thought for a little while that maybe I could become normal. I thought I could shake off all the dust of the past and pass as normal. Turns out my performance wasn’t as convincing as I thought. When you don’t try to be crazy – when you actually labour to tuck those frayed edges out of view – you don’t see it, you don’t get it when people drag you back out to the peripheries. They just don’t know how lonely it is out here on the outskirts. I was just looking for someone to join me. Affect alien.

V.

I’m not anybody’s type. To be a type means performing a relation to some form of normativity; it’s just an act of becoming something else (not yourself). I’d rather not see humanity in types but in colour; I’d rather keep undoing my attachments; I’d rather let go of expectations.

VI.

I never keep enough of myself to really know who I am. You would never guess it but I give it away all the time. I give myself over to an idea, to an artwork, to literature, to a yoga practice, and sometimes in my foolish moments, to a person. I don’t really do relationships, and this is why. (or getting laid – I don’t actually do that). The yoga sutras tell me to lose my selfish, personal desires that attach me to things I don’t need. And so I got rid of the clutter out of my life, the things, material objects, bad attachments and desires to people (most of them). When you don’t have anything you have your self always, the sutras write. The stuff is just a fog that hides us from coming face to face with the only real possession we can claim. At 21, when I was alone travelling the world I wrote in my diary: ‘Even when you have lost everything you have not lost yourself’. But what is this self we don’t lose? I can’t see it, sometimes I can feel it. But most of the time it doesn’t feel like very much at all.

VII.

People are afraid to merge. Every time I drop back into a backbend it feels like my heart is breaking. And even though I can’t pick myself up again, I keep doing it over and over again. Giving yourself over to another is a bad idea, or so I’m told.

VIII.

Aren’t all the connections we make always in some way misaligned? Aren’t we always making contradictory demands of each other; aren’t we always investing in fantasies that always exist beyond what an other can provide? Isn’t the act of truly communicating always so troublesome for we never really speak in our own words but in frames already provided that limit our desires into codes and norms. If love is a moment when we admit to wanting to become different then no wonder it falls apart because we never found the capacity to break outside of the normative fantasies of love, and sex, and friendship. If only we could pause and start to see each other clearly.

IX.

What does it mean this desire to be known? The exchange of stories that seek only similarity is just noise. And sure noise can help drown out the loneliness momentarily, if that’s what you need. The writings here have sought to note all the things I have lost and gained. I was writing in order to hold myself together. I’m trying to the tie up the ends here, but perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong. Writing is always a performance of stuckness, it is an unraveling not a putting together. Sometimes I wonder what comes first, the event or my writing of it? My writing of all the affective surges of living, from sadness, joy, boredom and of course love, are only poor sketches, and the people that embody the words, who may or may not know how deeply they are woven into the words here, are mere shadows in my mind. A writer is only as good as the friends who allow her to become.

X.

Sometimes people express surprise at my honesty on this blog or how I have used my own life in my academic work. And true something about personal disclosure/exposure is sort of vile. And often it has been a result of naivety or youthful clumsiness and I’ve had to edit myself out later. But it would be more vile if it were the truth. It’s not the truth. That’s not to say I’m a pathological liar and I’ve made everything up. Events happened to me and I observed and experienced them. The rest is just stories. I can make a hundred different stories, each one being true in their own way. But it doesn’t mean that if I tell a story it holds the truth of me. Just because something happened to me doesn’t mean I can understand you. There are a million stories you and I will never tell.

Like Crazy.

Lana gets it.
Lana gets it.

It’s hard to say why some of us end up being the outsider. Sometimes you find people just tell you: ‘You’re weird’, ‘You’re not like everyone else’. But I wasn’t even trying, you think.

Discovering you are the odd one out can be a tiring, lengthy process that involves moments of social failure, bad performances and necessary isolation. It takes time to realise the difference in recognising you might be crazy and the later recognition that that crazy is not going to change. Being labelled ‘weird’ at school is fine so long as you learn to conform in time. But if you don’t, if you do things like read far too much, love far too much, or start a yoga practice (because we know yoga ruins your life); then you have to start to get used to life on the edges.

Being the crazy one serves an important societal function by reaffirming the blandness of the rest. Being the crazy one can also be entertaining in causing people discomfort when you choose to not adhere to the appropriate rules of the situation; if you do things at the wrong age, if you don’t have an investment account, if (as a woman) you don’t have a partner or you don’t want children, or if your life is sort of crumbling apart all the time and you don’t really mind.

We’re not the detached ones, we just far too fascinated by living to waste it becoming X-Factor watching machines. Sometimes we make no sense, we constantly interrupt the self-conscious account of ourselves, and it gets messy and we say the wrong things and we want to do it all over again. But we can’t because you were just born this way and for whatever reason the events in your life impressed on you in such a way that it can’t be undone. But we come undone all the time, we give ourselves over to the other all the time because the boundaries of life and death are always so thin living out on the edges; a constant awareness of the fragility and contingency of life means making risky choices, travelling across the world for adventures and falling into inappropriate encounters.

It might mean being greedy and idealistic and loving the wrong people, and seeing things the way others don’t. It means not really belonging to anyone or anything except the idea, the ideas that fuel you. It’s being the other woman, the one that got away, and falling for the one who never quite got it. It’s being a bad investment, scary and threatening; it’s never quite being the same thing one day to the next. It’s always seeking that place a little bit outside ourselves, either in a foreign landscape, the bottom of a wine glass, on the yoga mat, or inside the mind of another. It’s feeling people too much and never quite keeping enough of yourself to really know who you are. It’s laying yourself bare with no guarantees, it’s investing desires and dreams but never knowing where they will go, it’s about losing everything and your self over and over again.

Living on the edge of crazy is never easy, it can get exhausting and overwhelming out here. But it will be realer, it will be the realest thing you ever tasted.

the non-sovereignty of loss, love, and yoga practice.

A yoga practice is a neat way of exploring all those sticky attachments we never even knew we had. Losing someone can do the same thing too when the instance of loss reveals the fallacy of our fostered belief in autonomous agency and control over who makes decisions in our lives. Loss, practice, and love all expose the delicate and contingent nature of our attachment to the world and to the others around us; they all present situations that force the acknowledgement of a sense of self that cannot be (and never was) sovereign.

“Trust yourself”: In the past week this statement has been uttered to me on more than one occasion. Normally this is the sort of remark that receives a bristly and unpleasant retort from myself, but this time the words emerged as a gentle guide that warmly sought to aid me over a threshold. This is the type of threshold that blurs into focus on your horizon and just won’t budge no matter how you try to skirt its glare or construct inventive past-times to while away your time. In a yoga practice we know these thresholds well, the formalized ones we designate in Ashtanga, and then those that furrow upwards into your upside down eye-line until you finally manage to utter the words that make it actual: “It’s the fear”.

It feels like fear for it is a situation which is actively encouraging you to dissolve your sense of self. And fear is such an immobilizing emotion. It keeps us static, lazy, and waiting. It’s not always wrong to tell oneself ‘Tomorrow’ (again) when the body is exhausted from the repetitive action of trying to stand up from an inverted position. (The body after all might be more rational than we give it credit for – what evolutionary purpose does ‘dropping back’ serve anyway?). We’re bending our bodies inside out for the sheer enlightenment of it, so let’s not denigrate our senses when they tell us to take some time out.

Perhaps though it is best not to dwell for too long of a time staring at your navel and contemplating explanations (am I repressing some childhood trauma of being held upside down against my will??). These are all glosses on an affective encounter: we could spend a lifetime codifying our incoherent and ambivalent desires, but we won’t get very far.

Feeling afraid (of a backbend, of the world, of men, of a vision of a life worth living) are all deferrals of a future that is not yet known. Often in yoga chat we might be encouraged to ‘surrender’ or ‘let go’ but it is not just that. To acknowledge the self as not already (and neither becoming) sovereign is not a temporary admission to becoming different; it is permanent shift in one’s identity. We lose something in this moment, that thing, whatever it was that kept us clinging onto a slow and wearing way of life sustained by fear, it goes missing. We don’t ‘let go’ then in order to return back to a sense of security and safety; we let go and we don’t come back.

“Trust yourself” then is the sort of thing said to reassure us that we still come back in some form. It is to point towards the fact that even if a yoga practice is an enduring cycle of dissolving bad attachments, we still have the capacity to produce many and other new attachments to the world. The daily yoga practice itself for one, that knowingly and unknowingly begins to chip away at our so-called ‘shameful’ habits and attachments that had kept us in a secure dwelling place for so long. To move across the threshold into the unfamiliar is to abdicate sovereignty elsewhere, to do away with it altogether. “Trust yourself” is the kind gesture that nudges us into tackling a relation that might feel dreadful and yet dredges us up and out of the stagnancy of waiting.