I had to alter our 5am walk. The normal way was putting Quinnie toe to toe with a skunk which was putting me toe to toe with worse. So we adjusted. Animal didn’t like it and tried as hard as heady dogs can try to get things back to the way they were, and I just kept telling her that the old way isn’t always the best way.
It was always Albrights Donuts. Small black coffee, no lid, w/ sleeve, buck fifty. I usually paid with change. If there wasn’t anybody tending the counter, or even if there was, I would just put all the coin on the glass counter-top and say YumYum. Fact is, Albrights is on a legitimate street corner, and i don’t trust Quinn outside by herself for too long. Too much sketch lurks at this hour, and she is not perfect. She has giant ears, and tweaks on things from time to time. Certain critters. Certain sounds. Certain homeless.
So we were now walking a slightly different way to get our coffee. Next to an unpopular fireplace showroom, I noticed a discreet little yoga studio for the first time. It was still pitch black. A flickering candle of some sort was lighting up the lobby at this Divinitree Yoga studio. There were numerous flyers taped on the window. One in particular caught my eye. It was a giveaway they were calling the Humble Warrior Giveaway. There was of course a picture of somebody doing an incredible Humble Warrior pose, and the giveaway prizes were to die for.
It read: In 100 words or less, tell us why it is that you practice yoga. That simple. 100 words or less, why yoga.
The winner was to receive a six month pass at Divinitree, a six month spa and fitness membership at the exclusive Chaminade in Santa Cruz, PLUS a free inclusion in a three-week Yoga Training scheduled for spring 2016. Wow!
There wasn’t too much small print either. The deadline to submit the entry was in five days. All entries needed to be received via email. Of course you had to be affiliated with this particular studio. The winner was to be announced on Friday, October 16th. I think that was about it.
The next day I joined this yoga studio. I had been meaning to surrender to yoga anyway, so I bought a two month unlimited pass. Therefore, just about the time my two month membership expiration would come due, that would also be about the time they were going to announce the winner to the giveaway. Timing is clearly everything.
I now was a brand new yoga student. I suppose I had done my share of Bikram in the past, and other forms of bending. This time though, I just knew deep down that this was going to be the breakthrough effort and the very beginning of a spiritual practice that was sure to reawaken me and prove that I am actually still alive.
But first thing was first. The Giveaway. I had four days to get my entry in, and I thought a lot about it. Do I use all 100 words? Do I use no words? Should I be funny? Should I be sad? Do I tell them that I have entered this contest just for the incredible prizes? Decisions.
Why do I practice Yoga? By Aaron Lubell
How’s it going? I’m a new student. I’m that guy without a smile. The guy drinking from the half empty glass. I appear to resemble a guy that has been unfavorably pigeon holed. Do you know the term? Well I do, and the aftermath has me feeling so raw and insecure that sometimes I am too emotional to even come out of Child’s Pose. But this is NOT who I truly am, and that is why I practice yoga.
For the next seven weeks, I made a point of getting to one class per day. If I felt too tired, I went to class. If I was too sad, I went to class. If it was too hot or too cold, I went to class. When I didn’t want to go to class, I went anyway.
On Friday, October 16, after the Hatha Flow class with Rosanne, Yogi Tom pulled me aside and asked if I had submitted an entry for that one giveaway. I told him I had forgotten all about it, but that YES, I did submit an entry. He reminded me that today was the day they were announcing a winner. We made small talk, and he said he would see me on Monday for practice.
When I got back to the space I now call home, I checked my email. There was something in my inbox from Divinitree.
Dear Aaron, We received 93 entries for The Humble Waririor Giveaway, and your entry was chosen as the winning entry. Congratulations!! We are holding your prizes at our Westside Location. Please fly out of your pigeon hole and come see us tomorrow if you can. Yay!! Again, congratulations. Namaste, Sheila
What up Bro? I mean, is there anything you can possibly say? I’m good huh? Real fucking good I know! Best Ever? Who’s to judge?
Consider me your opponent. If I thought you would read this, I probably wouldn’t post it. Usually best to keep the enemy close.
I made a gross error early on. You turned offensive. I went into Houdini Mode. And for my next move, I am going to make like Adios.
My abilities to make perfectly sound decisions during the heat of a battle that you were too little too late for, makes me the champ.
But this isn’t about winning and losing. More winning and winning. I’ve been applying that formula since 2001. It’s called a win-win.
So you didn’t come up short with me. You just got beat by the King. Or was it the Queen? You know how I can’t play without my Queen.
I drove real slow to minimize any chance of a flat tire or any sort of breakdown. I didn’t need a breakdown. Personal or otherwise.
I had nothing on the top of the van. That decision proved to be one of my best ever. Like better than best.
I had five, 12 foot Stand Up Paddle boards inside my van. I had a couple of regular surfboards stuffed in there too. I had my full size Roland keyboard. A couple sets of speakers. Clothes, rugs, suitcases, coolers, fins, blankets, tennis rackets, and all sorts of other little shit.
I began this solo journey through the heart and guts of Mexico from The Manialtepec Lagoon. The Manialtepec Lagoon is located about 20 klicks WNW of Puerto Escondido. The goal was to reach Cuernavaca.
Pretty straightforward drive. An excruciatingly, slow-going 400 kilometers up Hwy 200 towards Acapulco, followed by a very speedy 350 kilometers on a toll road towards Mexico City via Cuernavaca. Like a 10 hour, 375 mile day altogether. People do it in eight hours, but I ain’t those people. It’s really the worst leg of the drive.
I chose to head home in the EXACT reverse direction that I had just driven here but two months ago, and nobody could talk me out of it either.
Like you perhaps, I had been hearing about the troubles in the state of Guerrero. You know, the missing 43 students from the Acapulco area that have been popping up dead in ditches and dumpsters. Well six hours of my day was going to be spent driving in the state of Guerrero. Sketch.
I made my first stop at an OXXO/Pemex. I had only gone 80 miles in three hours. I put a little gas in the tank even though it didn’t need it. I bought an Arizona tea and a Snickers bar. It was then that I split up all my money into four hiding spots. I’m real good at hiding spots.
At this point, all seemed to be good. No incidences to report. Oh I did see a dead calf on the side of the road with big buzzards standing on it, and a couple of savage dogs ripping it apart. Other than that, not too much else freaked me out.
80 down, 2,920 miles to go.
Well it didn’t take but being in Guerrero 20 miles before I found myself in the first, of what would ultimately become five roadblocks. It was noon. I got out of the van. One guy said it should only be thirty minutes. Another guy said they were real serious, and it was going to be at least three hours. The snow cone guy said that the tamale guy said that it was going to last until dark. Did you say d d d d dark??
The only person that appeared to be nervous was me. I was halfway to Acapulco, daylight was already half over, and now i wasn’t moving.
And it was hot.
And i was alone.
When i got to the fourth roadblock, I was forced to seek shade on the right side of my van. It was now 330pm, and the sun was murder. Ducking behind the shady side of my white van proved to be the only refuge. Although that is when i noticed the screw in my right front tire. It’s moments like this that warrant a travel partner.
I found my tire pressure thing and tested the PSI. It was 15 lbs low. Good Fucking Grief Guy! I decided not to pull it out or put on the spare despite a reasonably well dressed man telling me that this roadblock wouldn’t let up til after dark. Did you say d d d dark? Decisions, Decisions.
Long story short.
Ten grueling hours to Acapulco, followed by five hours in the dark to Cuernavaca. Around 9pm, I finally pulled over at a neon sign that read Hotel Rosario. I came to find out real quick that their specialty is two hour room reservations. Two hours? Ohhhhh….two hours. Wink. You pull in your car. They hide your car. You and your secret someone slip through a hidden door that leads to a private room. In the room there is a bed, a bathroom, a television, and a jacuzzi.
I told the kind lady that I was alone, and needed a room for the entire night. She said I could do that too. Since I was no longer in the tropics, I made sure they had hot water. They did.
I paid cash, took a 20 minute hot shower, ordered a burger and a quesadilla from room service, and watched porn until I fell fast asleep. It was the only thing on the boob. Pun times.
It was 4:44am and I was wide awake. Friday, August 29, 2014 was set to be a bit of a turning point. A measuring stick. A monumental sort of day and time. My new era. It was now the day that I had been looking forward to with a ton of reserve, a fraction of excitement, and a wee bit o’ fear. I walked downstairs to boil water.
With one eye open, my fifty something year old partner was fast asleep on the couch. I walked out into the garage and said a few prayers. It seemed apropos now that there was a plush prayer rug on the cold garage floor. Fact is, I had put everything I could into this very moment. If I wasn’t doing exactly what I was doing, I wouldn’t know what to do. Let us pray.
The only thing left to load into my 2002 Ford E-250 was my tool box and my backpack which hosts all my technology. I went back inside and poured hot water over instant coffee. Yeah, it was like that.
My partner finally got to his feet. His knee had ballooned up from the day prior. He asked if the guy had called or texted. What Guy? The guy that was delivering the glass. What Glass? The rolls of glass that we agreed to burro to Puerto Escondido. We? “Trust me Pollo, you’ll thank me later.”
I had forgotten that we shook hands the night before and agreed that if the guy delivering the seven rolls of glass wasn’t at the garage by 6am, we were Ghandi.
At 5:50am, I kissed goodbye a very special someone.
At 5:55am, I received a txt that read ‘On Jamboree, c u in 5’.
God said let there be stress.
And there was..
I pulled over at Cafetal because I spotted 72 y/o Hogan sitting in there all alone. He is my friend for no particular reason. I mean that in an altruistic sort of way. I think he is originally from Ohio. He’s the type of guy that appreciates a guy like me. We chatted for a good 20 minutes. He was real happy to see me and let it be known. The big news out of Camp Hogan was that he quit smoking after 50 years. My advice to him was Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers.
I told him that I was just now heading home from a long morning helping out an old lady. Hogan wanted to know what she needed help with. The better question would have been why was I helping out an old lady. Needless, I began by saying that for three straight months, three mornings per week, without missing even one day, I have been visiting her at her house for no particular reason. You know, one thing lead to another which lead to twelve others.
Hogan smiled and told me that was pretty altruistic of me. I needed a definition. He gave me one. His definition made more than just sense, it made a believer out of me. I lost myself momentarily as I pieced a few more ironies and coincidences together. Yet another signal that was attached to a meaning that had latched onto an omen that once again was reminding me to stay the course and keep my eye on the prize. Life was whispering. I was listening.
a hunger to prevail near remote waters
is but the sundae, topping out the cherry
adhering to the writings in the sand
authors its affect on the more fortunate
once fading creations with pumping souls
now fastened to the dream of one leader
the only strings that stay attached
become the fire whose aim is art
it’s a democracy so few live to experience
this soiled pilgrimage back to mother earth
embracing wide eyes, baring timid souls
making unconditional love so addictive
often used as a definition for accord
partners for life, sparing little shame
what emerges from this obligation
is natural law worth documenting
the advance that is sure to exist
will all but make feelings taste
the engagement that comes to pass
is sure to bring fear to the vicinity
but to cubby-up and wonder-lust
like caution outperforming wind
is to mask the paramount omens
and abandon ones personal rainbow
it was 9ish. in the am. it had rained all night. i got on my piece of shit bike and zig zagged my way to hwy 200. lots of big clouds billowing amongst the tall mountains. the air was clear. it was both warm and cool. probably 75. i had a shirt on. the front derailer on my piece of shit bicycle was rusted stuck in the small ring. nothing i could do about it at the moment. i was feeling good though. a tailwind was in affect, and mostly downhill where i was going. i was headed to main beach hoping to see some monsters get ridden. the indicator flag was showing medium offshores. again, i was in the zone, and had so many reasons to feel that way too. more than anything, i was grateful & satisfied.
and then i saw the dead dog laying in the highway. now if a similar sketch could be drawn up in The States, it likely wouldn’t have been a dog afterall. it would have been a skunk, raccoon, maybe a cat. if it were a dog in the US, there would have been five people crying, one person suing, two policeman policing, a pet insurance agent, a pet cemetery rep, and 20+ lookie-loos. here in puerto, there was a dead fucking dog on the road. a young dingo style female. blood and guts everywhere. eyes were closed. if that dog were mine, it would be alive today, and, after a life filled with every possible opportunity to understand mankind, that dog would die a different death. but this dog wasn’t mine.
when i first came here in 2005, that dog would have been mine. when i began coming here in the winter for two months time, that dog would have been mine. the past few years, as two months were converted to six months, that damn dog just might have been mine. but today…that dog wasn’t mine. i gestured up. i thought about a dog or three. but that was it. there was a dead dog on the highway, and it was my time to deal straight. at least it was good and dead i thought. versus perhaps a starving, dying dog. i decided to handle the situation like the dogs mother, brother, or pack buddy would have coped with the plight. i put it behind me, and rambled on down the road.
He must have chuckled when he heard my promise. puerto escondido was being sandwiched by Manuel and Ingrid. heavy rains had made it near impossible to venture out anywhere. the injury to my foot made all matters laughable.
I told the kid that i would pay ALL my rent up front if he would give me my fair asking price. his knees wobbled. he pretended he was uneasy. he told me that he normally would have to check with his wife. how cute! he was using all MY moves.
He agreed to 5000 pesos per month, which is $400 to you and me. so I needed 25,000 pesos and the ATM only gives out 6000 per day. so each day, for 4.17 consecutive days, i found a way to get to Central in order to keep my promise.
I think he was surprised at my due diligence. truth is, i didn’t have to keep my promise. nobody keeps their promise around here. i just figured i would perform the unthinkable, hoping that it would lend itself out to a groovy brotherhood.
He handed me the four keys it takes to fruitfully live at his three room hotelito. two keys for the front door, one key for the gate to the stairs, and one key for the gate to the compound. the over/under bet on keys lost by March opened at 11.
I asked his age. he told me he is 37. i asked him his birthday. he said June 23rd. no way..that was my grandmas birthday i told him. and it’s mine too I said with a wink. he is 6/23/76, and i am 6/23/67. numbers can mean everything.
He offered up his truck to help with my move. i passed on that kind gesture for the time being. i told him that my game plan was to perform solo on a dozen or so stealth missions using just my backpack and my bicycle. he understood perfectly.
And that game that we played wasn’t even all what I got, im just testing you ja. watch out, from JIMEL THE ASSASSIN to hudiny the beginner **you ready to play tomorrow assassin? we can play at your house. i will bring my set. and by the way, it’s Houdini. ok let me know..
44 hours later
Friday The 13th
I showed up lame with ice-cold ice in my hand. The taxi kid said he couldn’t continue any further, forcing me to limp up the muddy incline towards the iron gate surrounding the compound. I was only 36 hours removed from stepping on something razor sharp with my bare left foot. Could have used a shot of tetanus.
The boys mother was in the kitchen. She said her middle son would be home shortly. I began icing my foot. Mom brought me some chia seed water and a plate of brown rice with cooked platano. My foot was freaking killing me. The Assassin showed up at three sharp. His younger brother and father led him into the ring.
Before we began, I wanted to make sure he understood the en passant. He said that he did. He wanted to make sure that I knew who the current world chess champion was(is). I told him that I hadn’t a clue. “Well it was this 19 year old Russian, but a 12 year old boy from India just took him down.” He opened first.
We played ten games in six fast hours. I won games 3, 9, and 10. Throughout the painful ordeal, his mother brought us whole bean soup, and homemade tostadas. After all the rain had fallen, I was searching for excuses. Not surprisingly, so was The Assassin. His father drove me home. Heavy rain had once again begun to fall.