Sunday, March 25, 2007

Guns & Yoga

I love this article, from the New York Times Sunday Magazine, no less:
True-Life Tales
Guns and Yoga


Not long ago, I decided to learn how to shoot guns. It was a Saturday morning, and I was curious. So after a breakfast of spelt flakes, soy milk and green tea, I went out shooting.

I believe in sustainable agriculture. I support gay marriage. I think war is a failure of diplomacy, logic and leadership. I’m embarrassed by the fact that it’s 2007 and my country is debating evolution. Pot should be legal. I dream of a world where punches are made of flowers.

And, it turns out, I love guns.

At the gun class, I learned gun safety, legal obligations, targeting and trigger pulling. And there were coffee and doughnuts, so you could pretend you were a maverick cop who didn’t play by the rules and, damn it, Chief, unless you let me do this my way, we’re never gonna catch this killer. Here, take my badge!

While shooting, I loved how the guns were small but also really heavy. I’m small and heavy, too, but not solid like a gun. I’m more like a duffel bag full of ball bearings and mayonnaise.

Here is how a gun works. You put these small metal cylinders full of explosives inside, and when the cylinders explode the gun doesn’t. It’s tight and strong and sends the cylinders flying out at whatever you’re pointing at — a paper target or, I hope, someday, zombies. While most things these days — movies, government employees, fast-food sandwiches and me — are slapped together with cardboard and frosting, a gun is a precision instrument.

Because I know how ridiculous I look holding a gun, I did pretty well. If your focus isn’t on being cool while you do something, you focus on results. I was free. I cut dead center (or close to it) on my silhouette target’s 8-ring almost every time. I imagined huge chunks of stew getting blown out of the backs of my attackers.

Later that day, I took a restorative yoga class. Shooting guns and taking yoga on the same day was the biggest “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” moment I’ve had so far in my life. Guns and yoga are French fries dipped in a milkshake. Scotch and ginger ale. Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model” after a bad breakup. Reruns of “Law and Order” and having no life: they’re good together.

You shoot better when you realize that your soul is a leaf falling through time, and that work shouldn’t equal struggle. And yoga never aligns you with the universe better than when your forearm is still tingling from the buck and recoil of a .357 bullpup.

Someone needs to open a combination shooting range and yoga studio. I’m serious. Maybe I should do it. Hose off a few clips of Glaser safety slugs, then see how deep you can go into Warrior II. The murder rate would go down. No, wait — it would stay the same, but people would realize it’s all part of a bigger plan. Or, no, it would go up, because people would realize the transitory nature of existence, and that everything that has happened or is going to happen is always happening someplace forever, so why not put a slug in that dude’s head who won’t stop talking during “300”?

The people I took the introductory gun course with were an interesting bunch: two guys hoping to become armed security guards, an indie-music-store-looking black guy, a dad and his two teenage sons and a guy who claimed to be an actor researching a role. Did they know a neophyte yogi sat among them, counting his inhalations and trying to make his exhalations take twice as long?

Meanwhile, I was the only guy in the yoga class. In fact, I was the only non-soccer mom in the yoga class. Did they know they had a rifle-eyed street panther in their midst?

Probably not. In yoga, you’re supposed to go at your own pace and focus on your breathing. So no one saw me flopping my doughnut belly and Internet butt around like a wino when I was trying to do Bridge Pose, or Happy Baby or Slightly Superior Suburbanite. Like the legless, armless silhouette I shot at earlier that day, I had holes of self-loathing blasted out of me. My Corpse Pose must’ve looked eerily authentic.

All these thoughts whizzed through my head like tracer bullets as I lay there, in the evening gloom of the studio, with a dozen moms breathing mom-breaths around me. I floated out of my body. I hovered over Burbank. I was one with my target, and my target was bliss.

Namaste. Lock and load.

Patton Oswalt is a writer and comedian. He performs the voice of Remy, the lead rat, in “Ratatouille,” an animated film scheduled for release this summer.
Namaste. Lock and load.

That oughta be the motto for DOWN RANGE TELEVISION...


Unknown said...

Seriously, cultivating inner stillness before breaking the shot works well.

Unknown said...

"Namaste. Lock and load.

That oughta be the motto for DOWN RANGE TELEVISION..."

As it is written, so let it be done!

Dipping fries into milkshakes. Hell, might as well cover 'em in mayonaisse. I know some people do that. I also know it is just so wrong.

PS: I am not ashamed to admit that I had to look "namaste" up.

Caleb said...

Sounds like "The Perfect Shot" essay I wrote a while back.

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, yoga and shooting, Bushido and business.

It's amazing how things apply.

Not Available said...

"Namaste" that like/the same as... saying "peace" like we did in the 60s/70s?


Wow, he gets why we shoot. I guess if I ever took yoga I'd have to go to this guy.

Jose said...

Okay, I too looked up "namaste" and "neophyte" too what of it?

Having been myself to a fair share of Yoga classes, and spent a day or two at the range :) but, having never done both of these activities, which I enjoy, on the same day. I now see a connection I had previously dismissed.

Granted it is not a novel concept, Brian Enos, talks about it in his book, I have done it in practice inhale/exhale nod, "shooter is ready standby...BEEP!" and then after an instant of supernatural entrancement "unload and show clear.. gun is clear, reholster” ahh the synergism of life's pleasures. Now if only I can figure out how to play that darn Saxophone like Desmond, while shooting my Kimber 1911, while transitioning out of a box and into Scorpion Pose or maybe straight into warrior II (which I affectionately refer to as the flying squirrel). Oh, a man can dream!


Honey said...

Its only yoga that enforce us to focus at our aim. Yoga meditation helps us to concentrate whatever we are doing. I think it would be nice experience to have guns and yoga. I was told in my yoga classes that yoga meditation leads us to the selection of goal relevant information.

Honey said...

Thanks so much for the article, pretty useful data. said...

It can't work as a matter of fact, that is what I consider.