Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hassan/Closer to the Earth

When I was a kid, my brother had a friend who lived across the street. His name was Hassan and he would come over to play video games.

Every time he'd come through the door, he'd take off his shoes which I thought was kinda funny because we never required him to do that. He'd always insisted he take off his shoes as soon as he came in.

The basis for feet symbolism goes back to the Vedic conception of the universe as the body of God. Just like a body has high and low parts so this universe has high and low, pure and impure places. Up is high, down is low. Feet touch the ground, which is low, and so when you enter a temple you leave your low part at the door. We take off our impure part, our feet, symbolized by leaving our shoes at the door as we enter sacred space. You might say we leave our materialistic side at the door when we enter spiritual space.

Saturday, I went to meet up with my friend N who had just come back from a 7 week stint in his native India. He told me about all his adventures and I couldn't help but kick myself. He'd been planning this trip since before I left San Francisco. He was going back for the occasion of his cousin's wedding and I offered myself up as a cheap date.

I can't believe I didn't book my ticket right then and there. Where is my sense of adventure these days? Lost in the midst of watching other people's failed risk? Who knows!

He told me about taking a 6 hour hike at the base of the river that feeds into the Himalayas. (I could be entirely making up that last sentence as he was telling me these stories over vodka tonics.) Point is, he's walking on this hike with this little boy who is describing defense mechanisms in the event that they run into a tiger. A TIGER. Can you imagine?

I'd prolly piss myself and get eaten up on the spot.

Back to tigers and other animals. Then N narrated another time he met up with his artist pal who is there working on, what else, art. Again, details evade me. I'm not sure what part of India they were during this adventure. All I remember is they are making their way through miles of wildlife when they get to a clearing. Artist Pal who is ahead gasps with what N described as fear. N catches up and sees a fresh hyena corpse!

Do you know anything about hyenas? From The African Wildlife Federation website:
The spotted hyena is a skillful hunter but also an opportunistic scavenger. It consumes animals of various types and sizes, carrion, bones, vegetable matter and other animals' droppings. The powerful jaws and digestive tract of the hyena allow it to process and obtain nutrients from skin and bones. The only parts of prey not fully digested are hair, horns and hooves; these are regurgitated in the form of pellets.

They eat everything but hair and horns! SICK, DUDE!

So the moral of all this is: drop your plans. Live life! Take adventures when you can! Don't get eaten by hyenas! Be thankful for the spirituality of your being!

Also, our president is Barack Obama. Officially.

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