“I know you’re thinking about what to do next. But we think you should go out there and write the books you wanted to study. You can do that.”
Well, either you write a book or you do a PhD, and either way I’ll help, but you should definitely do one or the other
“You know, nobody actually knows what everyone’s doing on their yoga mat. Nobody knows. Some schools – the more rigid and traditional schools – have set poses or sequences, but there’s no comparison. No scholarly enquiry. And this…” I wave my hand expansively to cover the field, the teepees, and the chanting, massage and meditation workshops. “No-one’s telling this story at all.” “Well, either you write a book, or you do a PhD, and either way I’ll help, but you should definitely do one, or the other.”
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write” (Virginia Woolf)
I remember my life as stories. I’m not sure how many of them are true. I was brought up with story upon story, made out of history and rumour and nostalgia and wishful thinking and spite. There are fundamental facts of my childhood whose truth I will never really know.
It’s … complicated.
I don’t remember ever not being able to read or write. But I remember being told that I taught my brother how, when he was two and I was five years old. I remember carefully constructing a picture book story for him, when I was six. It had plot development, logic, and resolution. It wouldn’t have won any prizes. This isn’t a child-prodigy story. But this is to say: for all of my life, I have woven my truth carefully, from the stories told to me.
I chose the PhD, by the way. It’s proving to be a hell of a journey.
Weaving the thought, the stories of our culture – a well-crafted narrative has more power than we can imagine: the power to change worlds
Weaving the thought, the stories of our culture – a well-crafted narrative has more power than we can imagine: the power to change worlds; the power to condemn people to poverty. A good narrative sings the song of a people: tells the stories of those who cannot be heard; turns marginalised folk into heroes.
But the space to construct these stories is a privilege: one it has taken me many years to find; and more to take advantage of. I have space to think, and write, and speak, because of the partner that can help to support me, and a home in one of the richest countries in the world. And this position is fragile – I combine three obsessions into a career that pays me very little and demands much: teaching yoga, writing, and scholarly inquiry.
I try to give a voice to social justice, to hope, to clarity, to a middle way between logical rigour and the poetry of the mystical experience. I try to tell stories that haven’t been told before, because as a non-traditional yogi, as a queer woman and as a trauma survivor, I hear so many stories that have no relevance to my own life or experience. In my blog and articles, you’ll find represented everything from academic debate, to impassioned politics, to esoteric philosophy, to daily living.
Most of all I’m grateful for the online technology that allows me these conversations to happen. If you’d like to help gift me a little more time to devote to them, a donation is always deeply appreciated.