Like any long weekend for a single 30-something in NYC, I listened to the latest Billy Crystal audiobook (geared toward our nation's AARP population) as I cleaned and lightly feng-shui'ed my studio apartment.
Naturally, the thrill of sucking up five bags worth of hair and dust bunnies combined with Billie's narration of how he "now pees in Morse code and his lady may need Depends" got me excited to pop in one of my all-time favorite movie classics, "When Harry Met Sally." It had been a year or so since I last watched it - a perfect, comfortable close to a successful cleaning day.
So it's coming to the scene where Sally is tossing around barely-used tissues crying about the news of her ex getting married. I've seen this movie over and over since I was eight; I could perform it for you in my sleep. Which is why I never, ever anticipated to experience the realization that paused me in my decaying robe and fuzzy slippers as I watched the scene while getting ready for bed:
Sally: "And I'm gonna be 40!"
Harry: "In eight years."
I stopped in my tracks. My God. I am Sally Albright.
Maybe not cute and blonde and endearingly quirky, but I am the age of Sally Albright's character. Somehow, a time-warp has taken place and twenty-four years have gone by. The concept of being a woman in New York experiencing difficulties in dating and struggling to drag the Christmas tree by herself to her apartment always seemed like a distant fantasy of some future adulthood. But the present is now what was once the far-off future. And what is even more unbelievable is that in the next year, it will soon be the past. I will become Sally Albright's big sister (adopted, obviously).
Here it is, the final New Year's Eve scene. She's in her blue strapless gown faking a great time, he's eating Mallowmars at home in bed. But whether I'm fifteen, twenty-three, or in my thirties, it still strikes me as if I've never seen it before. I forget where I am or what year it is, and I am who I've always been - presently rooting for Sally's and Harry's love. That won't ever change. Even when I'm wearing Depends.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Over the last decade, I have come to realize that there's a fine line between sharing day-to-day conversation with friends and family and unintentionally imposing myself upon them as a free and all-knowing life instructor. We teachers love to hear ourselves talk and advise. When I was three years old, my uncle labeled me "Pati Rina," which translates to "Grandma Rina."
It's for this reason that I am humbled and awed when I interact with someone who embodies truest humility without meaning to.
My dad has been a devout and practicing Hindu for his entire life. I'd wake up as an angsty middle-schooler and high-schooler to the sound of his meditational ocean breaths (which I now know as pranayama) in our "God room." He commits to prayer each morning, and is the only person I know who is literate and fluid in Sanskrit. Before acknowledging anyone, his first step is to open the east-facing door of our home and greet the rising sun.
I, on the other hand, have spent years catching myself checking morning text messages with my eyes half-closed even though I know better. My morning practice for the larger part of my adolescence and adulthood has involved racing out the door to catch the [fill in the blank: bus, train, plane, ride] without a moment to appreciate the miracle of dawn.
When I moved to New York a few years ago, I began to practice yoga at first so I could look good in a swimsuit (unfortunately for us South Asians, a fleshy stomach is just one of those things we'll have to accept and somehow call a gift). But in one class early in my experience, we began with the ujjayi ocean breath. In it, I heard my father. Over time, I'm slowly coming to understand.
I recently completed a yoga teacher training program. Still a novice in all aspects. But over the holiday break, my dad approached me one morning. "What is a beneficial kind of pranayama for me to practice? Please teach me," he said. My dad, asking to learn from his kid without a wince. Didn't even cross his mind to feel differently.
Sure, he's got his imperfections. Far more than a subtle amount of "selfies" on his camera. But his unintentional humility is the very purest kind. It is humility itself.