Man is the only animal that blushes

At least, according to Mark Twain. Interestingly enough, the blush likely developed over many centuries; an evolutionary feature with the purpose of easing us out of uncomfortable situations. A visual representation of fight or flight.

Most of the time we turn away from those uncomfortable moments. But it is when we lean in, as Pema Chödrön says, that the truly miraculous can happen.

Revisiting resistance

I wrote this about two months ago, after diving deep into my yoga practice.

I’m stretching out the muscles in my legs.

As I’m stretching them out, pushing forwards and backwards on my legs, alleviating the tension that builds up, I notice the resistance. Resistance that is met in a forward bend and backward bend. And just as the resistance becomes so terrible, so unbearable, the tension releases. I can feel the muscle actually give way – it sort of vibrates, and then it’s loose.

I think of it as a metaphor for all resistance we face. I don’t push the stretch to the point where the muscle will tear. That would do irreparable harm. But I’m finding the space just past comfortable, where I’m living in the state of discomfort, until the muscle finally gives. The resistance breaks.

You must lean into the points, as Pena Chödrön says.

Over the past few months, reestablishing my yoga practice, I’ve had to remember this more and more.

It’s all really a question

If I was to create my perfect society, it would be an imperfect society. Perfection is an ideal, not an actual. We come to these matters uniquely, and no two created societies would be identical. Millions upon millions of different ideas, goals, aspirations, longings, and we expect that a society that comprises all of these disparate personalities to function ideally – obviously we will fail.

But we can learn to fail better, as Pema Chödrön says. Learn from mistakes, lean in to the uncomfortable issues.

We criticize our elected officials for their inability to pass substantive legislation. Yet, as our population grows and the added opinions that growth equals means that keeping a population satisfied with job performance is impossible. Someone is going to be unhappy.

Now, at the point that government became a business we began losing ground as a Country. Members of Congress who find their retirement solution among the House or the Senate. Rich, old, white men who are out of touch with the heartbeat of America may not be the best ones to be leading the United States into the 21st Century. There are of course exceptions, and there are women, and racially diverse members of both parties in some form of leadership – though it’s not the norm.

In the House, there are 89 women and 348 men serving. Of the 437 members of the House of Representatives, 338 are white, roughly 3 out of 4. The other hundred or so are composed of Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American/Native Alaskan.

The Senate, and its one hundred members, is 22% female, just slightly better than the House’s 21.9% female. Women at 22, men at 78. Racially, the Senate is 92% white. That means there are 8 who identify as racially diverse in the Senate.

I don’t want to say that the majority of Americans would rather vote a white man into Congress than a woman or someone of color. But, and this seems like a pretty big but, somehow we’re allowing the nation’s Capital to be whitewashed.

Then there are all these stories saying that this is the most racially diverse Congress we’ve had: The Hill, Pew Research Center & Politifact. So, good on us.

Is it enough? That’s one of the millions of questions that makes America what it is. We are a Country of questions:

What are the unalienable rights?
What makes me an American?
What is the American dream?
Does that dream still exist?
Who really looks like me? Is it that we’re the same color on the outside? That we believe in the same God, deity, or scientific reason? Is it that we live in the same zip code, work in the same building, or have the same job title?
Who do want to lead us?

Though the answers to these questions are few and far between, that we get to ask them is, in my opinion, what makes us American.