Somewhere, sometime, in the 1960’s I had dabbled in yoga, a Hindu system of philosophic meditation and asceticism. However, by the time I had caught up with it yoga had evolved in the western world into a series of posture practices with right and goodly thoughts. Childhood daydreaming proved an unsuitable foundation for spiritual contemplation and so my efforts failed dismally in the yogic meditation department. Thanks to civilization’s invention of silvered mirrors I was equally a failure at attempts, admittedly never seriously contemplated, at an ascetic lifestyle. Mirrors and window reflections just kept distracting me from the pursuit of a higher moral plane. Besides, I came from that part of the world where Advertising had successfully supplanted the available pantheon of more deserving gods, so anything that didn’t reflect current fashion and cultural trends was poorly placed to outlast my adolescent whims. As for attempts at yoga posture, I satisfied myself watching images of a nice leotard-clad lady, name now forgotten, who on regular television episodes during the late 1960’s, on the state-run channel no less, undertook various innovative body contortions. I cannot remember if I got past lesson two, and sadly the very attractive girl next door, several years my senior in age and accompanying physical development, never gave visual indication that she was a yoga posture devotee. We could have practised together. We could have practised a real lot.
Equally sadly, I never managed to master the craft of astral travelling, an especially sneaky means of low cost travel sometimes attributed to yoga masters. The inability to master this art was possibly due on my part to an early entrenched cynicism of anyone claiming to be a spiritual guru. My Welsh paternal grandfather, in his day, was right into spiritualism, but alas the genes of my ancestors endowed me only with arthritis and a receding hairline, nothing at all in the school of metaphysics. Thus destroying any hankering I might have harboured for a belief in Lamarck’s theory of evolution founded upon the inheritance of acquired traits. Whatever grandfather had achieved, he didn’t pass it on. I continue to enjoy the story of the giraffe with the long neck gained from ever stretching skywards. But that little bit of Lamarckian evolutionary folk lore aside, there was just something that didn’t sit well in my mind with anyone with an over abundance of young acolytes in their entourage. And too many western savants had become associated with wealth, power and psychological manipulation. Even the Beatles had returned from India to their homeland, disillusioned, empty handed and a little out of pocket; enlightenment falsely proffered. Maybe I was just envious of those who were adept at acquiring lots of big cars and seemingly beneficent young women, and who were successful at marketing their self-help books.
So in the absence of the ability to project myself in any form, metaphysically or corporeal, and being mindful of the fate of Icarus, I dusted the cobwebs from my wallet, tearfully parted with its contents, and flew by aircraft, taking my chances with the possibility of substandard out-sourced engine maintenance, the vagaries of weather patterns, particularly the inclement kinds, and the uncertainty of politically-inspired gentlemen undaunted by self-destruction and the death of innocents. Free in-flight movies and airline food gave comfort and assuaged anxiety, and so I sped forward to my destination in contemplation of life and the world outside, the arid zones of Australia’s outback and the multitude of Indonesia’s islands passing silently outside and below. Unbeknownst and surprisingly, I had apparently acquired, since those childhood days, some degree of success in the meditation department afterall, elementary and miss-focused as it was. Even the posture had made some advances, the slouch so keenly applied in classrooms during my school days, now a thing of the past.