Awkward pose is a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build leg strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity out from under our feet. The objective is to achieve balance without stability. As a Bikram yoga practitioner I have performed it hundreds of times. Unlike other yoga postures, awkward pose never feels ‘right’. The tension of my haunches hovering over empty space, supporting the mass of my core, countered only by the spindly tension of outstretched arms, never feels comfortable. In time I have learned to strike the pose with increasing depth and steady breath, but the act of balancing contradictory tension requires constant diligence. Awkward pose is the metaphor for my life.
This blog is about opposing tension everywhere in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. The decision to blog grew out of my experiences working in Haiti. Friends and family sought out my stories of this country, so enchanting and so damned. After my third visit I realized that Haiti had settled into a permanent corner of my psyche. It became a benchmark against the everyday habits of my abundant life. As an upper middle class American white male, I have more choice in how I conduct my life than most anyone in the world, yet I am so often riddled with anxiety and doubt. In Haiti I witnessed many people of scant opportunity who lead lives of meaning and grace. Call it fortitude or resignation, their accord with a world of scarcity highlights the arbitrary, indulgent folly of American society.
I have no desire to live as a Haitian; I am neither saint nor missionary and it would be disingenuous for me to pretend at being poor. But having witnessed the patience, the endurance, the sense of family and community, and the immediate vitality that permeates Haiti, I realize how much Americans have forfeited in our dogged pursuit of acquiring stuff. Haiti is dysfunctional and unbalanced, but so is the United States. The poorest and richest countries in the Western Hemisphere are tottering in a deep awkward pose. Somewhere in the vast expanse between these two worlds, lies balance.