Cannonball Read V: Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer
Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It has been kicking around the house for over a year, and for the life of me I don’t know how it got here. Was it a staff picks at Powell’s near the cash register? Did a visiting friend leave it behind? My spouse denies any knowledge of it, even though travel books are right up his alley. Not knowing how the book arrived is perfect, because it’s a tricky little book to describe. It’s not about yoga, although it’s a better meditation on life than many a yoga session I’ve experienced. The upper right hand corner of the back cover says Travel/Memoir. I suppose this is accurate, but it’s less about the travels and more about numerous journeys over ten years pursuing nothing in particular.
The forward of the book is a short reflection of the meaning of home, is it a place where we experience certain things, or is it a place at all? Is the book describing a journey home, or is it merely a collection of travel stories? Dyer’s travels to different places in the world include a lot of things: humor, truths, great dialogue, snippets of poetry and philosophy. As all good travelers know, it is the ugliness, the unexpected, the inconvenient that make the best and the funniest travel stories. Dyer’s observations about mice, mold and excrement all made me laugh. His observations of people and place are witty and refreshing.
While Dyer probably would disapprove of this description, ultimately this is a book of self-discovery. I don’t mean this to be trite; it isn’t an Englishman’s version of Eat Pray Love. During the 10 year span of the book Dyer is experiencing self-doubt, and ultimately some type of breakdown. The breakdown is not the focus of the book; there is no self-pity. Rather, Dyer observes moments of truth and is cognizant enough to realize that it is these moments that get us through life. For example, he describes being in the “zone:” those moments where he doesn’t wish he were anywhere else. I’ve experienced that same feeling a few times: on a rocky point overlooking the Straits of Juan de Fuca or standing at almost 5000 meters in the Himalaya. Being in the zone is terrific, but of course, it doesn’t last. What Dyer knows is that life’s crap; unhappiness and struggles are part of life. As are those rare moments which make you feel like your whole life is worthwhile. It’s all part of the journey.
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