“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was very welcoming to Schvi Tzauritz, who was recently laid off in the Wall Street collapse. He showed up for his first yoga class and it was clear that this man was enduring tough times. He seemed sad and worn out emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As his yoga teacher, I wanted to help him. So I guided Schvi to the back corner of the room, a safe haven for beginners.
I should tell you that Schvi is a very hairy man. Hairy back, hairy chest, hairy nose, hairy ears. Note to self: usually very hairy men sweat a lot. So I got Schvi a towel and told him to take it easy during his first class. But Schvi attacked the yoga poses like a blind man in a brothel. He slipped and slided through the ninety minutes of class and barely avoided separating his shoulder or dislocating his knee. Along with the rest of the class, he found his way into the final resting pose. Despite the odor Schvi emitted (which reminded me of garlic, soy sauce, rotten eggs, pickles, tuna, cigarettes, liquor, and a poopy diaper), I was so happy to see Schvi’s blissful expression as he rested peacefully in savasana.
Class ended and I exchanged words with a few students. Suddenly, the students’ collective expression suggested something awful, as if they saw the payload from a B-2 bomber falling from the sky. The sea of students parted to reveal Schvi Tzauritz walking right toward me. Sweat dripped from every hair on his body. I could swear he left in his wake a puddle that was not clear perspiration, but rather a brownish liquid.
Schvi looked at me as if I’d saved his life, such was his gratitude. And trust me, I felt good, but please note, if the military could bottle Schvi’s stench, wars could be won without the loss of life.
I expected to shake his hand and invite him back to class when “it” happened. Schvi threw his body up against mine and wrapped his arms around me. His bearded face chafed my neck and he went so far as to kiss my cheek. As he walked away, I felt stunned and frozen. When I realized I was still alive, I looked down to survey the damage. One puddle of Schvi’s sweat caused my shirt to stick to my right pectoral. Another puddle of his sweat left the entire left side of my shirt drenched. And my right forearm was totally drowned in Schvi. That’s right. This wasn’t mere sweat, it was something far more toxic which I now call Schvi.
After taking inventory and spotting all of my limbs, I made a slow march out of the yoga room and through the yoga studio lobby. I exited the studio and walked to the car where I saw the gardener Manuel to whom I kindly said, “Manguera yo abajo, por favor!”
Manuel took his hose and began spraying me down from head to toe. I stood there feeling the fierce stream of water shaking my manboobs while staring at the blue September sky. At that moment I realized, in these difficult times, people have a lot worse problems than being drenched in Schvi.
Given the economic crisis, our country is facing an enormous challenge. Never in my lifetime has our entire population faced such a seemingly insurmountable mountain of trouble. If you’re not feeling the economic pinch, someone you know and probably someone you love is stressed and struggling.
There are two ways to react to the “mountain.” One is to freak out and hide from life. The other is to root down, duck below your fear, and deepen your connections with friends, family, and co-workers. Together, the “mountain” can be an expedition. Alone, the “mountain” can turn into an emotional and financial graveyard. We should all be ready to rise up. This is a challenge to become stronger, wiser, more efficient human beings.
Now is the time to get over fears of The Sweaty Hug. Whether it means embracing Schvi, or embracing the darker issues and less fortunate people. Because God knows those who are down are really down (see the next section about Hurricane Ike).
A Chinese proverb reads, “Crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind.” This wind is blowing hard. The windows are shaking, the roof is rattling. The whole world is sweating. Will you open your arms?
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