Educated Karma / by vanessa

I'm setting out to cover the following things:
1. Travis's experiment
2. Competition
3. Reiki/meditation

My friend Travis ( and I finally caught up the other night on the phone after trading IMs, voicemail, etc. for some time. Travis is easily one of the most introspective people I know as well as one of the bravest. A few days ago he leaves me this message, "Vanessa I need to try something out w/ you". Over IM the next day he told me about his experiment: he was asking everyone that knows him to a fair degree to quickly, "without thinking" list his best 3 traits and his worst 3 traits. I found this both fun and challenging. It was easy to think of what I valued most about him, where do I stop? but those which I don't value -- wow, that's an assignment. It took me back to my L2 days in Montana. I delivered them -- did I hurt your feelings - I wanted to know? Of course not, he told me. Curious about his methodology, the other feedback he's received, and what he's gleaned so far from this experiment, I called him. He's getting similar responses, especially in the "worst" column. Much of it he identifies w/. What he's found is that "negative" feedback is primarily associated with earliest impressions while "positive" is more current (Travis, if you read this, keep me honest). For example, his mom's "bad" traits were from his childhood that no longer define him. I listed characteristics from my early experiences working w/ him. However, in truth, if I were to think about Travis as he is right-now-December-whatever-2004, those "negative" things wouldn't really apply - it's not as I know him right now. (Side note: I'm not a fan of quote/unquote either but how else am I supposed to repeatedly denote relativism? Suggestions welcome.) What I noticed as he was telling me the details of his exercise is that the feedback seemingly speaks equally about the giver as it does the recipient. I personally didn't agree with many of the traits characterized as negative b/c I don't see them as faults -- in fact often times I see them as his strengths. Similarly, I'm sure if he were to tell one of his other friends about the ones that I listed, they might not agree. So, I've verbally bungled a really eloquent examination by a friend I very much value. It feels a disservice of sorts, so for that I'm sorry as my intention was to illustrate how cool I think what he's doing is.

Next: spent the past weekend in Waco w/ Hav's family. This was the family's Christmas -- his brother and nieces and nephews all came in and we eat WAY TOO MUCH and play dominoes and poker and various sports. Though I 've always loved seeing the gang, early on in our relationship I resisted the tradition. I think in some ways I resented it, oddly, for not having it when I was growing up. That makes a lot of sense, I know. I've learned to really have fun w/ the reading of Jesus's birth and the geriatric Christmas hymns. This year I would have even gone to church on Sunday but forgot the clothes. Honest. In years past, I've tried his parents' church and found its fear-laden message offensive and insulting. Now however, my perspective is that it means something to his mom and it's not about the sermon.

As I mentioned earlier, we tend to play a lot of games when we all get together. It's no secret that most of my friends don't like playing games w/ me, and I suspect his family is just too polite to admit it as well. The truth is I'm not very fun. Yoga has been this haven for me where there are no winners and no losers and competition literally hurts you. This is what I love about yoga -- I know I've written about it before. It was the first time in my life where I was forced to drop expectation and know that any focus on what others could do around me was sure to bring injury. And, as yoga's magic is wont to do, this outlook has spilled over to my everyday life as well. Until I play sports or games, that is. Geez! In general I try to avoid 'em outright so I don't have to deal w/ it, but the truth is, it's all there under the surface. I become such a primal, shorttempered, umm, maniac when I play and I don't know what it is! I hate hate hate losing and every yoga bone in my body flies out the window. At best, it's embarrassing. My answer is usually to avoid playing games, but in the spirit of camaraderie and bonding I always play w/ the family. And unless I'm winning, which isn't that often, I become quite ugly. So I can remove the symptoms (games, sports, etc.) but there's still something underneath and I don't know what it's about.

I'm rambling so I'll sign off. I meant also to mention that I got a perspective on meditation (or lack of it) that I thought made sense to me so I've been refraining -- I don't need it -- and good god have I been wrought w/ the first noble truth! Not to mention that I miss it. So, it was a good experiment as I learned my lesson, but I prefer it in my life, thank you.