The last time I had two days off in a row was just before Christmas last year. And this is the first time in a long, long time that I've taken off two days in a row while still in Houston. Wednesday I had planned to take off. Thursday just happened, and I have no excuses. But it will be a drop in the bucket compared to next week. I'm going away, and will maybe do some practicing in the cold, on the dock of the lake. But in the meantime, I will try to catch up on the Meditations from the Mat.
The day 209 meditation is about a criticism of one aspect of yoga. Yoga says to give up desire and work with things as they are. The criticism is that this attitude leads to fatalism. Gates asks a few rhetorical questions: Did Martin Luther King work with things as they are? Did Hellen Keller? He then answers the questions in an unexpected way. He says that they did. According to Gates, people who accomplish great things demonstrate what is possible -- they demonstrate how things are. I can see this, but its also begging the question. You might just as well say that notorious failures demonstrate the same thing. In some ways, every time I go into Standing Separate Leg Stretching, I demonstrate that its not possible to touch my head to the floor. But I doubt that THAT is his point.
Fortunately, Gates addresses the asana aspect very clearly: "As we accept and connect with the postures that are hard for us, we find the understanding that leads to mastery. That is working with things as they are." So what's wrong with desire, then? I think the answer is that desire leads to refusing to accept and connect with things as they are. And because of that, its self-defeating. With asana practice, desire tends to lead to injury, because it makes people push past real limits because we want so much to get to the goal.