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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Feb 22, 2011

Work and work

"The man pulling radishes pointed the way with a radish." Issa

Chris and I spent the last several days in L.A. visiting his mother. It was really good to spend time with this wonderful woman we both love so much.  While I was there I got to take long hikes up into Griffith Park - soaking up sunlight and breathing in buckets of sea-level oxygen.  And then there was the food - we ate the most delicious food - every meal.

One of those meals we shared with our friend who is a successful musician.  He has always been brilliant and gifted - a musical wonder.  In the past few years he has guided his band into true success and fame.  He knows how to do his art and he also knows how to do business. He's really able to - as Paul Muller Ortega puts it - "pull powerfully up from the ocean to create a life wave that is capable of holding the whole ocean".

So I was surprised to hear him say - at breakfast - that the frame or scope of his work and music is too small and that he feels he is being pushed by his own creative genius to expand his vision and his aim radically. I guess i thought he might pause a moment and enjoy his success. But of course not. He is too deep into the Work.  I'm not involved in the world of music or fame but I do know the world of Work. "Work" with an upper case indicates  participation - a body-mind-heart participation - with the great creative process of Divine Evolution.  I've come to understand this concept through the teachings of Lee Lozowick, Gurdjieff and others.

I also know the world of work with a lower case "w". I love to work. I really do. I always have.  I can thank my ancestral background for this strange love.  Since my mid-20's I've also been increasingly enmeshed in "Work". I don't think it would be fair to say I love the Work. I do and I don't.  Often I feel like a fish on a hook. I still get anxious when I prepare to teach. Same with writing projects.  Whenever I've tried to kick back and relax, I've been pulled up hard and pushed to surrender to the truth that I can not be casual about either teaching or writing. They both scare me. They both demand that I stay in a vital conversation with creativity.  I am never  sure I'll be able to pull it off. I always feel a bit on the edge.  The edge is a scary place and it's also a very alive place.  The edgy, anxiety thing  - I've come to recognize as a sign I'm doing Work....... a sign that something new and fresh is demanding to be pulled out of the ground of my being and it's demanding the necessary work, digging and offering of something vital of myself.   I can't ever just pull up some old material (to teach or to write) and hope to pass it off as fresh.  The Work demands something new - every time.

(I have friends who are creative and who do not experience the scary edge thing. In other words, I am writing about my experience at the Work edge.  On the other hand, several seasoned teachers have told me they are relieved to find out that someone else experiences anxiety before teaching).

Work is not romantic.  It's really not.  But it is steady and Real and compelling.

 Rilke talks about Work and work in an excerpt from one of my favorite poems:
So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.
But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst....
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

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