On Chasing Two Rabbits

“He who chases two rabbits catches none.”  ~Confucius

Last week, as you may recall, I announced the launch of a new website for my “Shaloha Yoga” endeavor, and I quickly discovered that– surprise– attempting to manage two separate websites is (at least) double the work of managing one.  (Or at least that’s my experience when your management team consists of precisely one manager.)

So– for the time being– I’m consciously choosing to stick to the one website model (i.e. this one) and (cue Tim Gunn) make it work.

Of course, if these were the only two rabbits in the picture this week, my life would be a lot simpler and perhaps I would have written a few more blog posts.

But, no.

There’s a very large rabbit in the room that refuses to release its kung fu grip on my brain.

That rabbit is called “music”– and despite the fact that I attempted to quit the pursuit of making it last fall– I relapsed this summer, and went on a full-blown, two-day-long production binge last week.

You can check out the result in a little music video that I made by clicking here.

Lest you find the “addiction” metaphor a little uncouth, please understand: I am not making a joke.

All you have to do is go back and read my blog archive from the beginning (September – October 2013) and you will see what can potentially happen when I follow the Music Muse down the rabbit hole (so to speak).

So, yeah.

I wasn’t expecting this little outburst of creative energy right before my upcoming travels, and– predictably– the aftermath has unleashed a torrent of potentially-destabilizing energy into my current flow. Now that it’s happened, though, I’m trying to bring my increasingly-effective “mindful management” skills to the mix. After all, that potentially-destabilizing energy could potentially result in some brilliant artistic achievement, and– hey– what’s the point of doing yoga, anyway– if not to facilitate our own personal growth into our best possible selves?

Which reminds me why I started blogging about “my attempt to stay sane in a crazy world”:

It was never merely to attain some enlightened bliss-state and retreat into some monastic solitude, separate from the vicissitudes of everyday life; it was always about learning how to thrive in my own unique way… about identifying and following my bliss and encouraging others to do the same.

In that sense (to bring it full circle), evanjoblin.com and shalohayoga.com were never actually two different rabbits– nor are yoga and music, for that matter.

Both of these projects and these “disciplines” are simply different manifestations of the same One Thing– namely, my attempt to live an authentic, mindful, and creative life in a world that doesn’t always make it easy to achieve that goal.

Anyway, let’s keep it short, and end with a quote that Seane Corn quoted in her thousand-plus-person-yoga class at the Wanderlust Brooklyn Festival this past weekend:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain

With all due respect to Confucius, I’d argue in the vein of Twain that my purpose in life is to figure out how to catch the two-rabbits-(that-are-perhaps-ultimately-one) that I feel in my bones) I’m meant to be chasing.

Because I’ve spent way too many days of my life chasing nothing (out of fear of failure/fear of success/perfectionism/whatever), and I refuse to relentlessly pursue one single discipline at the expense of those other disciplines that I need to integrate into my life– for my own health and well-being.

And when I finally pull this thing off– on a day-to-day basis– THAT will be the most important day of my life.

Introducing: Shaloha Yoga

Check it out, Friends–

My first post on my new website:

An Interview With Myself  <– Click Here

Please note: While this post is currently a lone squatter in an empty building, I’ve got big plans for this site. While you can’t tell from the current configuration, this site is primed to feature multiple postings by multiple authors, in a minimalist-themed, digital magazine layout.

If you have any interest in writing guest posts about yoga, holistic wellness, healthy living/eating, stress reduction, staying sane in a crazy world, etc., please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

-ej

The Calm Before (and During, and After) the Storm

So, I’m leading this trip in Israel this past May, and on the second or third night of the journey, this one participant confides in me:

“You know, you’re the most calm and calming person that I’ve ever met.”

Granted, she’s been drinking wine, and we’ve only known each other for three days.

Still, she seems utterly sincere.

My initial (unconscious) reaction is to choke on my water and laugh out loud in protest, but that seems awkward and/or rude, and so I graciously accept the compliment.

If only you knew me ten years (or even ten months) ago…

But, it’s true.

I’m responsible for managing a group of 40 North American twentysomethings and insuring their well-being in a foreign country, and, really, it’s no big deal.

Even when the falafel guy at our first lunch stop on our first day tries to totally rip off half of the group and I have to argue with him and question his integrity in my most limited Hebrew, I’m pretty damned Zen.

Even when things can and do go slightly off-plan– it is what it is.

Try to get a rise out of me, everyone and everything in this crazy country! I dare you! 

Not happening.

* * *

A few weeks later– back in Hudson Valley, New York– I’m working twelve to fourteen hours a day as part of a “special ops” Camper Care team tasked with resolving issues of campers (and sometimes staffers) having a tough time. It’s essentially like being an “EMT of the spirit,” and it’s pretty much nonstop intensity, all day long, day after day. Ten years ago (or even ten months ago), I don’t know if I would have been able to handle the demands of this gig without flipping my lid over every potentially stressful scenario that I’m faced with (and there are many).

Nevertheless, my job and my reputation depends on my ability to remain calm in any situation, and to communicate clearly and effectively in conditions ranging from “a disturbance in the atmosphere” to “a whirlwind of chaos.” Even the slightest behavioral slip-up on my part would likely result in an unhelpful escalation of situation, a breach of trust, or– perhaps worst of all– a lack of faith in my ability to get the job done.

So, it’s a good thing that I happen to be “the most calm and calming person” on the scene.

(Fake it till you make it, right?)

It’s a good thing that I’ve invested countless hours this year in finding ways to manage my own Mind-Body-Spirit balance (even if it’s taken me two decades to get here, and the task still never seems to end).

It’s a good thing that I know exactly what I have to do when the storm hits (hint: when you’re wired like me, the storm rarely stops hitting):

I have to practice yoga on my mat each morning. And I have to practice yoga off of my mat, all day long.

Every single day.

(Forever.)

* * *

Now, when I say I have to practice yoga every single day, I don’t necessarily mean that I can’t function properly if I miss a day on the mat. (Though I truly can tell the difference on the days that I don’t do them.)

But, I will say this: If a day goes by without me practicing my yoga off the mat, chances are, that’s a day when I acted *ahem* slightly less than the best version of myself.

Here’s an equation that helps me remember what I’m talking about:

Yoga Off the Mat = Vigilant Awareness + Elevated Kindness

If I’m practicing “awareness” (i.e. mindfulness) and “elevated kindness” in all moments (OK, let’s be realistic and say, in every moment that I remember to practice those things), then there’s a good chance I’ll be sensitive to others’ needs and maintain that calm and calming effect.

In other words:

Awareness in the Storm = Calm and Calming Person

(This is where I imagine the Buddha looking at me from the great beyond, slapping his forehead, and saying: “Duh.”)

* * *

Which is not to say that I’ve perfected this skill, by any means.

While I did successfully make it through the summer with my new reputation (and sanity) intact (at least, I think so), I’ve definitely felt the old storm of “What Next” a-brewin’ on the horizon.

I’ve been cautious not to reveal too much about What Next, as very little of What Could Be is officially set in stone.

Given my recent transition from Highly Structured Days to Totally Unstructured Limbo (at least, for the first few weeks of September) I’m eager to get back on the road for my Traditional Fall Hurrah this season.

Yes, in recent autumns past I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of participating in ecstatic drum circling and Sound Empowerment training with the Amazing Jim Donovan in Pittsburgh. and last year I took a field trip South to drum and bass (and wildness track) with the Amazing Victor Wooten and friends in the woods outside of Nashville.

This fall, I’m trying something a little different (yet, thematically relevant to everything I’ve been this year): Trauma Informed Yoga Training with Hala Khouri (co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World). More on this soon.

And I’m just about to kick off my own yoga thing (Shaloha Yoga, Let My People Flow), because:

a) I realized this summer that I have a somewhat unique approach to Mind-Body-Spirit-Wellness stuff (which integrates all of my eclectic trainings and studies), and

b) Why not share that with people who might appreciate it?

So, there you have it.

Just under a thousand words of (seeming) non-craziness.

Will it last?

We shall see.

All I know is:

If you know it’s gonna storm–

(And you know it’s gonna storm–)

Bring an umbrella.

Flashback

I’m cooking dinner tonight (in the year 2014), while my parents are watching reruns of “That 70s Show.” The theme song is playing, and I look up at the screen to catch a bunch of producer names, etc. Then it hits me. You know how people (generally) go to work every day? THAT is where I went to work every day. The year was 1999– I was 23 years old. I actually lived in an apartment complex literally next door to the studio lot, but I still had to drive to work each day in order to make (car) runs all around Hollywood. On the way back to the studio from “the other side of the hill,” I’d always stop at the Beverly Hills library and read travel books about faraway places. After eating some ridiculously lavish catered lunch every day in the production company headquarters, I’d work out at the gym with the guys from some stupid soap opera called “Passions.” Once I gave Olivia Newton John a tour of our building, and actually said the words “I liked your work in Grease.” Every now and then I’d sit on the set of 3rd Rock or 70s and think, “All I have to do is write a good script…” The whole thing lasted, what… 8, 9 months? I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my deep-seated craving for Hollywood fame and fortune with my other deep-craving to explore the world and do something more “important” than working in Hollywood. So I left. I went to Israel, and within a month of my arrival, all hell broke loose. After witnessing the aftermath of one too many suicide bombings, I decided to return to NYC. Within two months of my arrival, the Twin Towers fell and I realized that I probably should have stayed in Hollywood, working alongside the rich and famous and working out with those guys from “Passions.” I didn’t go back, though, because I–
Because I–
Man.
I can’t even begin to comprehend why I did what I did in my early twenties.
But it’s all coming back to me, people.
That damned theme song…

Life After Crazy

Restlessness had returned with a vengeance.
And, by 1999, the pattern had become clear:
When I don’t get my way, I run.
When I do get my way, I run.

It was really only matter of time before I’d run again.

~Evan Joblin, Between Reel Life and Real Life, Part IX

* * *

Q. You know that feeling you get when you’re not sure whether you should do something or not, but you’re going to do it anyway? 

A. You mean, like when you quote yourself on your own blog? 

Q. Sorta like that, but more.

A. Oh, you mean like when you start having a dialogue with yourself on your own blog?

Q. Sorta like that, but more. 

A. Oh, you mean like when you make some grand proclamation to the world about how– over the past six months– you’ve managed to beat crushing anxiety and depression without meds– after spending the bulk of the past two decades lost in some sort of black-hole-slash-alternate-universe? 

Q: Yeah, that’s pretty much the thing right there. 

A: Um. Maybe that “feeling you get” is trying to tell you something?

Q: Too late. Already done.

  * * *

The funny thing is, I have no idea what’s gonna happen when I sit down at my keyboard. 

Basically, I still have to go through this whole ritual of psyching myself up to write. 

For me, there are fewer things more terrifying than facing a blank screen. 

(One of those things is hitting “Publish” at the end of the whole process.) 

Also, you know how writing comes super-easy to certain people?

I’m not one of those people.

Writing even a 500 word essay is like running a marathon.

WAY more exhausting than speaking.

Oh well.

Do it anyway.

Let me tweak that previous thought.

Writing about stupid, inconsequential stuff is actually pretty easy. 

I’m talking about writing stuff that matters.  

Well, maybe it’s not the actual writing that’s hard– maybe it’s the “giving myself permission to write about what I actually want to write about” that’s hard. 

Or maybe I’m just making too big a deal about this, as I am– after all– sitting here writing about what I actually want to write about. 

Hmm.

Maybe that’s my point: 

I am doing it.  

No, I don’t need a “congratulations” or anything like that. 

But I think it is worth pointing out that– compared to where I was when I started this blog– and especially compared to where I was before I started this blog– I’ve made some real progress. 

So, I’m not going to use this post to write about my summer (that post is coming soon).

And I’m not going to waste any more time with cute gimmicks to get your attention.

I’m just going to quietly mention that I’m entering a new phase in the project that is my life, and that phase is called:

Life After Crazy. 

And so–

As of this moment–

I’m officially un-diagnosing myself of any previous professional proclamations of the DSM-IV variety.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–

I’ve suffered immensely from the life-squelching crush of anxiety, depression, and dread over the past 20 years.

I’ve lost countless days/ hours/ years to “poor focus,” perfectionistic paralysis, ineffective strategizing, and magical thinking.  

All things considered, though– these labels don’t serve me anymore.

All things considered– I’ve managed to create a pretty good life.

Even in the grip of that black-hole-slash-alternate-universe.

Mine might not be the most conventional life trajectory ever taken, but I rock it in my own special way. 

And now that I’m finally breaking free of the long-ingrained behaviors and ways of thinking that tended to bring me down (despite every upward achievement), it’s time to move forward into the “what next” of my “normal.”   

Please don’t misunderstand.

My normal might look a little different than your normal, or the societally-prescribed normal of mainstream American culture. And I’m OK with that.

Still, I’d like to find my “soul mate” (soon) and “settle down” (eventually).

I’d like to find a steady source of income– not so I can buy a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t need– but so I can easily afford the stuff I DO need, with enough left over to fund my travel adventures.

I’d like to maybe one day find a place I can call “home”– that isn’t owned by my parents.

I’d like that home to be part of a community– a place where I can contribute to the greater good beyond my home, and where “people know my name.” 

I’d like to be able to give back, in some way, in this crazy world– both to everyone who has given so much to me, and to those who need far more than I do.  

I’d like to achieve some sort of creative success, in at least one of the creative arts to which I’ve devoted so much of my thought and energy (and, sometimes, time. Though, really, I’ve wasted way more of that than I’ve used effectively.)  

Anyway–

It’s a big project, Life.  

And for all of my advantages and opportunities in the world, somehow I (still) feel so, so behind. 

Alas. 

A black-hole-alternate-universe vortex will do that to a person. 

It is what it is. 

So–

What does Life After Crazy actually look like?

Great question.

(Are you looking?)

This. 

And whatever happens next.

Wake Me Up When September Begins

Last September?

Oh, man.

I had it all figured out.

If I may quote myself, circa September 24, 2013 (from the very first post on the blog that would morph into this one):

Towards the end of my recent stint as an “Herbalism Educator” at a wonderfully quirky summer camp in Hudson Valley, NY, I realized that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life come Fall. (Note: I feel that it’s important to mention here that I am 37 years old, and for most people this would constitute some sort of quarter-/mid-life crisis. For me, it’s been my general state of being for as long as I can remember.)

Anyway, I decided that– rather than do what I tend to do when anxiety descends upon my racing brain in the face of uncertainty– I would take 40 days and 40 nights of intense music study* and contemplative practice** and make every effort to really, truly figure out– once and (perhaps) for all– pretty much EVERYTHING.  (Spoiler alert from Day 30: I’m not even close to figuring out everything.)  However, I did figure out what I want and need to be doing with my time on this planet, and in upcoming posts I will begin to share my story.

[* , **: I realize that as soon as you read these things, you a) start to get a sense of my priorities, and b) wonder how I can afford to do this. The reality is, I set up shop in my parents' house in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, where I store a plethora of musical instruments that I've accumulated over the years. The situation is wholly unsustainable in the long run, for a variety of fairly obvious reasons... but it's what I felt I had to do.  Honestly, I'm fortunate that my parents agreed to the situation.  As I sit here and type, the 40 days and 40 nights are coming to an end and this is the beginning of WHAT NEXT.  This blog (as opposed to facebook) is where I'll be chronicling "what next" as events unfold.]

Whoa.

“What next” turned out to be SO not what I’d anticipated.

Not only did I not go to the Bay Area, I spent a solid chunk of the money that I’d planned to spend on that road trip on flying to Nashville, Tennessee– in order to rock out and track wildlife (no joke) with Victor Wooten– probably the world’s best living bassist.

Here are a few photos of what that looked like:

DSC06417DSC06393DSC06437DSC06558DSC06578DSC06571

[Meanwhile, you can read more about that adventure here, here, and here (in that order). Although I have this funny feeling I never finished that series... Oh well. It is what it is.]

Anyway.

What happened next (i.e. when I got back to Pennsylvania) was–

I stopped playing music.

Wait… what?

Yeah.

Well, no.

I started writing this one song. (You can read about it here and hear it here. Seriously, though– listen with headphones. Please. I promise you. And turn it up loud.)

And after two days–

I just stopped.

[Note: You can watch (i.e. read) the whole weird situation unfold by reading the October 2013 archive on this blog. Though I admit, I haven't quite found the courage yet to go back and read my old posts. (Too soon? Probably.) In any case, I'm going to write more about my breakup (and eventual reunion) with music soon.]

I did, however, keep writing blog posts.

I mean, like– I REALLY kept writing.

For example, on the same day that I posted that link sharing my new-song-in-the-works (10/29/13), I posted five other full-length posts.

And the next day I published this: The Time I Lived With a Squirrel (Part One)

(If you haven’t read that one, I highly recommend it. It’s the beginning of what would become an 80K+word memoir project. I’ll understand if you don’t commit to the whole shebang, of course.)

And then I sank into a pretty fierce depression for several months straight. 

And then I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program in the self-proclaimed “mushroom capital of the world.” 

And then I traveled almost non-stop between February and June. 

And stopped blogging for 3 months.

So, um.

What’s the point of me telling you all of this?

Well– first of all– I’m just trying to figure out what the hell actually happened this year. Because (if you read the blog from October onwards) stuff gets real crazy, real fast.

And– second of all– I want to provide a little context for my new readers. (Hi, new readers!)

Mostly, though– I want to acknowledge the following:

What started off as a promising year (by the way, I still for some reason run on a “school year” calendar)– and later morphed into one of my worst years ever– later morphed into one of my best years ever.

And now that summer has come and passed, it’s time to reflect on what just was, dream of what might be, and live fully in the Here and Now.

Yes, I’ve just finished an immensely successful summer filled with eight weeks of 12 – 14 hour workdays, and I took this past week to basically do nothing and catch up on sleep.

Tomorrow, though–

Tomorrow starts a brand new year.

See, I’ve spent many an August 31st chomping at the bit to post my favorite snarky Green Day-inspired facebook status update:

Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

This year, though–

This September–

Wake me up– bright and early.

Wake me for some yoga.

For a green smoothie.

For writing.

For doing.

For living.

Wake me up.

Wake me up.

Wake me up.