It was the end of a cool autumn day, and I was sitting on my yoga mat. I thought back to the morning (albeit late morning); my ablutions were complete and I got out on my daily constitutional. (That means walk for those not in the American South.) Walking is good for the heart, I thought, and then I remembered that I was supposed to have some heart tests this year. They were too expensive without insurance, so I didn’t have the tests. What with the pandemic and not getting younger, I’ve been wrestling with the beast that is U.S. health insurance (and losing). So after my walk, I read some stuff on the internet and called some people.
On one of those calls, I got some bad news from a friend, a colleague, really. They were pretty ill, but getting through it. Although I wasn’t raised to pray to a deity, this person was and has a good heart; I’ve always admired their sunny disposition. I’ve also known some Quakers and always appreciated their practice of sitting in silence, and their concept of “holding someone in the light.” So tonight after my bike ride and daily yoga, I flipped my Insight Meditation Timer app over to meditate and chose a five-minute one about compassion in honor of my friend. Usually I wait until I’m hitting the hay to meditate, so I tend to pass out before it’s done, or it doesn’t make much of an impact. Today, for some reason, it stuck with me.
I had a friend over tonight and we watched my deluxe collectors edition of the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. If you weren’t aware, a quote from the movie inspired the name of this blog and my nom de plum (and also my nom de velo – to be clear, it’s an homage).
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides. Source: The Bid Lebowski
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
I had only seen it a couple of other times, but it seemed to me just about as awesome as the first time I saw it. Almost, because come on, the first time is just pretty mind-blowing. So here are some of A Dude Abikes’ thoughts about this classic movie by Ethan and Joel Coen, starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude.
He awoke early with the sun for a change. Groggily, from a late night when sleep did not come, as it often did not. He waited for slumber to arrive like a spouse waiting on the partner who had to work late: restlessly. To pass the time before her return, he watched a digital video recording of thin, super strong young men riding their bikes across Spain. A place he’d been many years ago and found himself pining for. He pined a fair bit these days, to anyone who would listen. About his underappreciated, unpaid blog and book writing. Or the aches and pains of an aging cyclist. And his unwillingness to settle for another low-paying job with a boss and all that jazz, while he struggled to start being an self-employed contractor. He couldn’t figure out how to do the job without a car but paradoxically he needed money from a job to get a car. After 13 years since his vehicle was smashed by a reckless driver, a car seemed like it would be nice. Yet it could also mean certain death to whatever modicum of fitness he had, he thought, because biking is sweaty, hard and uncomfortable, and driving a car is easy. And easy is boring. Which rhymes with snoring, which is what he should be doing, he mused.
The other day I had a rare headache, and someone near me said, “Why not try some alternate nostril breathing?” I did, and it helped. Then the little voice in my head kicked in, and I started kicking myself. “Why didn’t you think of that before?” it mocked. “Why don’t you do more pranayam every day?” it jeered. And so on. If you’re at all like me, the inner critic is never far from bursting through the front door of our conscious mind and raining on our parade, to mix metaphors.
Have you ever noticed that we don’t have a name for the inner compassionate person? But we should. Our inner Dalai Lama, perhaps, or whatever spiritual teacher may appeal to you. But after my last post about yoga, I’ve been thinking about the other limbs of the yogic path, and self-compassion is a big one. So here are some thoughts that might help you, whether it’s starting or maintaining a regular practice of writing, walking, yoga, cycling or whatever, just being better with your self. Or maybe becoming the next President of the United States, a job which should be coming open pretty soon, from the looks of it. A Dude can dream. Continue reading