Note on Contentment; Note on Fire

I’ve held for what months or longer this excerpt from Ram Dass, posted at Revoked some time before they shed space suit for some alternative astral way of being around. On contentment as method:

In yoga, one of the methods is called ‘contentment’. That’s not a goal, that’s a method.

I can be content this moment, and the next moment I’m moving toward something else. When I am here I am content, when I am here I am content, when I am here I am content. So even though you are going to change something the next minute, that doesn’t mean you change it out of discontent. It changes because it changes.

That is the basis that you do everything in yoga.

Words of Wisdom,” Ram Dass, Revoked, August 14, 2019

Contentment as method. Contentment as above-path, quagmire hovercraft; in yoga, yes, I can find this. The good enoughness of a pose right now. The satisfieciency of this, here-now, floor and mat, gravity and breath. With contentment as method, for work (research, teaching, administrating), for non-work and all that it entails, there is in this relief from straining and striving. Go sit on a shelf, goals. Agency is fatiguing and sometimes needs quieted. Contentment says enough, have an exhale and a pause, surrender to the entropy, have a break from so much reaching.

I am teaching a research design class this semester. And too, of course, we’ve been visited by a pandemic, which has meant IRB suspensions, workaround-thinking, making do, resignation to changes that are out of our hands. We shift online. We Zoom. We grant flexibilities such that everyone can to the extent possible adapt and adjust. Lives are different from waking until sleeping again. Yoga intersperses, walking yoga, reading yoga, cooking yoga, Netflixing yoga, and relationship (the most difficult of yogas). And, too, research goes on–wondering and inquiry that sometimes involves others and sometimes involves only writing, processing, sorting things out. I’ve been thinking a lot about the friction (that edge, almost touching) between career and contentment, between inquiry and contentment, between rhetoric (as compositional, making, striving for change) and contentment. About motive(s).

Contentment as method (in yoga) risks hinting at passivity. In one way of approaching this (perhaps too difficult, perhaps needlessly difficult) pose, motive lapses, disperses. Contentment seems to abandon motive, doesn’t it? I’m not interested in sketching an argument with Ram Dass; no jousting at evacuated space suits. Where’d they go? But I am wondering about that something-more, the fire whose heat is felt in yoga as in motive as in inquiry. Contentment, too, draws on some kind of spark that is not exclusively passive. I have enough, yes, and I am enough, yes. This here-now is enough, yes. And then some–always a paradox. Even so, wonder and inquire, reach and breathe.

Contentment as method, it’s qualitatively helpful. But fire as method, too, grasps at something important about how that change happens. Not another definition of agency (we are reading about agentic shift this week, fittingly). Not necessarily fire as raging with destructive force. But a striker strip, a spark, heat and flame and combustion, immolation as method. Fire as method. What does your research turn to ash? What does your research raise up from the embers? Fire as above-path, quagmire hovercraft; in yoga, yes, I can find this. And sometimes in research. The potential and ever-rising heat of a pose right now, in spite of being human.

In Other Words, Hello

I read with great interest last week’s announcement from Ben and Mena Trott, co-founders of Six Apart, Ltd., that they had merged their shop with VideoEgg. After the dust settles, the new entity will be known as “SAY Media, a modern media company.” Anil Dash’s “SAY, Goodbye to Six Apart,” for example, sheds light on his part in this transition. I haven’t looked too deeply into what motivates SAY Media; give it a week, right? It’s difficult to really know such things, anyway. Commenters responding to the smattering of Six Apart’s end-times disclosures suggest SAY Media is interested foremost in monetizing blog traffic by way of advertising. My first thought: best of luck.

My next thought is, Earth Wide Calamity!, this blog runs on Movable Type, one of Six Apart’s first blogging systems. If Six Apart disappears, will Movable Type also vanish into thin air? Early, findable answers are exactly what you would expect them to be: no, no, of course not. Movable Type and Typepad are making the transition right along with the Trotts. Nevertheless, there is a bit of anxious buzz floating around that SAY Media is concerned with easing the Typepad subscribers through the transition, but they don’t appear to be especially forthright with promises about Movable Type. The word on Movable Type is, in effect, “mum.” In fact, the SAY Media blog’s latest entry has as its title, “We Love Bloggers, We Love Typepad, We Want to Hear From You,”–a hand-patting “it will be okay” from Matt Sanchez, the new company’s CEO, who, curiously enough, has not himself responded to the comments.

For my own part in this anticipating of the worst, I’ll just hang around, waiting and seeing, until there is more definitive cause for concern (e.g., if this entry does not publish because SAY Media has corrupted my MT installation). Another way, as with much change-anxious worrying, rehearse a dozen times with a succession of deep breaths, “nothing happens.”