Friday, November 19, 2010

Never, Ever Stop

I hold the iron in my hand and the soft, damp smell of India surrounds me like a cloud. For two hours, I have meticulously folded and ironed electric blue silk, shimmering red fans, and tangerine cotton. The hands on my computer clock don't seem to move, and flute and sitar music from Pandora radio spindle from my speakers.

As I have sat in my chair for two hours now ironing my dance costumes, I've been pondering what it takes to become really, really good at something. I mean, life and soul.  When Hariprasad Chaurasia - the virtuoso flute player - came on the radio, I felt awed by perfection. His whole life and soul is to play the flute. That's it. He has practiced, studied, practiced, performed, practiced, taught, practiced, lost his ability to blow his breath into a flute, practiced, got Carpal's tunnel, practiced, and everything again a thousand times over... just flute, flute, flute. And after he has played the flute for more waking hours than sleeping hours in his life, he plays the flute some more.

And that is why I feel awed by Chaurasia's perfection. Because he never, ever stops playing.

I wondered how it would feel to dance and dance my whole life as a service to Krishna. To attend so many practices that when I walk I begin to dance; to iron costumes countless midnights; to tie on my dance jewelry for countless performances...

But of course, I know that at some point the body gives out, and dance is the prerogative of youth.

So in my meditation I went a little deeper. What would it take to reach perfection in... chanting? Devotion for Krishna? Service?

Maybe perfection is to chant so many names of the Lord that they just circle around and around in my mind like the moon. Or maybe perfection is to feel so humbled by the tragedies of life that I fall at the feet of strangers. Or maybe perfection is to drink in scripture like cool water on a hot day.

All day. Every day. Never, ever stop. And death is not the conclusion of devotion, but the beginning.

Beginning of what?

I don't know. If I keep chanting, if I never, ever stop, maybe I'll find out.

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