9 Hayao Miyazaki Films that you need to watch and why

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki (Japanese宮崎 駿 HepburnMiyazaki Hayao, born January 5, 1941) is a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio, he has attained international acclaim as a masterful storyteller and as a maker of anime feature films, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest animation directors.

In 2002, American film critic Roger Ebert suggested that Miyazaki may be the best animation filmmaker in history, praising the depth and artistry of his films.

Disney ingeniously owns the rights to all of the studio Ghibli films.

Spirited Away – 2001

This is the highest gross film in Japanese history and widely regarded as one of the best animated films of all-time. Miyazaki’s adventure will sweep you off your feet and take you into a world far away, one of unique imagination and characters that delight, inspire, and teach the deepest of lessons.

The film is deeply fantastic, with several unique oddities in the story-line that seem to be completely original, but obviously are very well thought out.

Nausica and the Valley of the Wind – 1984

Nausica is one of the most unique adventures of all time. An entire alternate universe awaits you with heroes, allies, and enemies alike. Nausica is an inspiring, strong female lead. Her glider is iconic and accompanied, of course, by some heavy 80s synthwave. Several themes, including humanities relationship to nature, culture, and violence.

Princess Mononoke – 1997

Princess Monoke is another alternate universe for you to explore. This one is more superstitious, less technological and more magical, fantastical. But this film truly helps to define Hayao Miyazaki’s style, with rich and deeply interwoven characters. Finally, another strong female lead character dominates the inspiration in the film.

Castle in the Sky – 1986

A follow-up to Nausica, expect some seriously mind-blowing technology and battle scenes. Good never ceases to prevail in this exciting adventure with another strong, female lead. Think about the future in this incredibly complex adventure that you can watch many times, just like all of Miyazaki’s films.

Kiki’s Delivery Service – 1989

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a childhood favorite, with some of Miyazaki’s most lovable and redeeming characters. Kiki is iconic, and her witchery is continuously present throughout Miyzaki’s work, most notably Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. The themes of this film are among the most powerful that Hayao presents to his audience with his self-questions heroes finding triumph in the darkest of hours.

My Neighbor Totoro – 1988

Totoro is the coolest. This film is a classic and amazing. Probably perfect for getting little kids thinking with their imaginations. Simple and sweet character interwoven into a delicate and fantastic story. Look for common symbols throughout the adventure in nature with the animals.

Ponyo – 2008

Ponyo is a modern adaptation of the Little Mermaid, but with incredible animation. The story is inspiring in its self belief and Ponyo is a beautiful story, there is really no experience like it. The water animation is brilliant with lots of inspiration. In addition, Liam Neeson’s voice is in the movie.

Howl’s Moving Castle – 2004

Howl’s Castle is an interesting story. One of my favorites. The story develops over time. The characters are unique and very developed, the adventure itself is one of epic proportion. Have fun with these characters and a magical fantasy of a world because the adventure is deep!

The Wind Rises – 2013

This story culminates Miyazaki’s work into a final reflection upon craftsmanship, inspiration, passion, and sacrifice. The story is incredibly intricate. Ending his career, Miyazaki directed this film before his retirement in September 2013.

Check out more film reviews here!

In short, Miyazaki is one of the best directors of all time. He has a deep integrity to his own vision. Hayao’s deep world-building combined with his compelling characters create amazing storytelling.

Life Update: Split Between Worlds

Split Worlds

Split Worlds of Yoga, Landscaping, EDM and Art

Sometimes, I want to just focus on one thing, but I seem to live within three split worlds. I’m almost always working. Teaching yoga isn’t lucrative enough to focus on completely, landscaping isn’t really a sustainable profession outside of my 20s and 30s, nor is it very lucrative, and music actually doesn’t make me money at all yet, though someday soon I hope it does. I want to play live (and am almost ready to), which is where all of the money is!

My music is starting to get hot. Check back in soon for updates on what I’m making for y’all.

Expressing Elliot’s Art

My focus is on creating the type of art that I appreciate, love, and feel. Honestly, its not worth it if I don’t appreciate what I’m doing, the process will become unsustainable, which in work is the name of the game. I love making music and teaching yoga, and landscaping, but get torn between the three as I try to grow.

My yoga teaching has certainly improved drastically over the past couple of years. I try to bring my own style into the art as much as possible to express what I have inside of me and share. This is true of teaching yoga, writing, composing, sound design, this blog, making music videos, etc. I am trying to express myself! It is extraordinarily time consuming to do all these things in my own way because I have to literally develop the style from scratch! And I get pretty hard on myself sometimes. And then when I’m not feeling it, I have to go back to the drawing board and completely rethink what the hell I am doing! It’s crazy how much effort I am putting into this stuff!

Unique Flavors

I am constantly working to create something that no one has ever done before. It’s part of why I am making my own visual for music and why I want to DJ and teach yoga at the same time. My sounds are all my own, next to the library professional drum and synth samples that I have collected and analyzed over the last 3 years, and I am slowly collecting all of the top-of-the-line software  that I am learning to use optimally within my productions. Yoga is something that has always been very personal to me, so learning how to develop my style of teaching is also really helping me to develop my style of ddm production.

Getting Equipment

I finally have my instrument and am in the process of learning how to use it in sync with my computer to create the kind of beats that I have been making in the last 3 years.

Yoga is really cool because it doesn’t require equipment at all. If the state of California weren’t a bunch of money grubbing bastards, I could start an entire business in a public park. No wonder that state wants a piece of yoga.

Landscaping is actually a lot like music in this regard. Good equipment helps to get the job done exponentially faster and with higher quality in the finished product. Plus, power tools are so much fun to use!

No time for Wasting

Tons of my new songs are very very close to ready for release. Yesterday I spent the day getting organized and designing sounds. I’m getting close to the majority of tracks from the album. Most of them are fully structured, but the chord progressions and melodies all need work. I will release the album progressively as it helps people to digest the tracks (I honestly should re-release some of the tracks from 0, I feel like they are under-appreciated).

Yoga teaching is going phenomenally, though it always has its rough patches. I am really getting into my own flow and style and it is simply awesome to see that dream begin to form into reality. People are starting to get my message as I become more fluent in communicating it. Honestly, there are few things in this world as rewarding as communicating with and assisting other people in achieving what they want.

Landscaping is also going great, I have completely landscaped my mom’s backyard in Auburn. I am working on a multi-leveled trenching permaculture system to bring water to plants as it flows. I’ll do a post about the garden soon, once fall starts to hit. Landscaping makes decent money on the side of yoga and I get to spend time outside, so it works out great.

Conclusions of Split Worlds

Lots of the time, I wish I could just make music full time. I love contrasting melodies against basses and synthesizing sounds that I’ve never heard before and turning them into fat beats. Teaching yoga is such an important part of clearing my mind to create. I honestly couldn’t imagine one without the other. My main jobs are like the yin-yang, countering each other. Landscaping kind of sits between the two.

Anyways, here’s to the end of July! On 9/1 I am going to release my HAZE EP so get stoked. I will release the tracks progressively, as usual. I’ve also just finished a collab, and it is a very cool track. Be on the look-out from some live streams and yoga youtube tutorials, hoping to start them soon!

ttyl,

the E.T.

The Wanderer, Part 32

The Wanderer Part 32

The Wanderer, Part 32

This story is part of a series, this is the thirty-second part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 31

Tas was standing, walking through a field with freshly tilled soil. The sky was blackened and it was night and he knew he was dream walking.

It was so dark… Tas could feel his forearm hurting; he pulled up his sleeve to look closely he saw that the wyrm tattoo on his arm was smoking. But the smoke seemed to fade right into the dark mist that surrounded him.

His eyes began to adjust to the darkness and to pierce through the shadowy mist. He could see that the landscape was nearly empty, but also that it seemed to be pulled apart by the wind. Everything seemed to turn to dust in the shadow mist. He looked closely at his own skin and sighed. His skin was resilient to the shadows, but he was in the nether.

Once again he felt empowered by the shadow. He closed his eyes and felt a surge of energy flow through his spine, and he stood a bit taller with more energy than he could remember having.

He suddenly remembered how he arrived, and looked up only to see the darkened sky twinkling back at him. He wondered if something else was behind this; he felt like it was no coincide he had arrived here. He scanned the horizon, mostly in futility. The entire landscape seems to be deserted except for the tundra plants and clouds of swirling, dark mist. The moon was high in the sky, but was only a sliver so that it could barely be seen and provided no useful light through the thick misty shadows.

He walked into the hazy wind slowly, pushing against it onto the horizon. On the path there were hills and Tas figured that if he elevated himself, he could at least get a feel for the surrounding area. But he wasn’t hungry or tired, or thirsty; he felt like he’d just slept all night and eaten plenty the night before.

He walked quickly through the hard tundra, and didn’t even look up as he walked quickly ahead. He heard a flapping sound above, him; something was stalking him. He looked up to see a small dragon flying above him, starting to descend to his level. Rings of smoked blew from the creatures nostrils and his eyes pierced into Tas’ as he dove. The creature got closer and Tas could see his horns and tendrils extending into his scaly backside. Then he saw the claws and teeth, which looked sharper than razor blades.

Suddenly Ice appeared on the horizon, his normally white fur was now completely black and seemed to flow with the wind, without being affected by it. Even his eyes were black now and Tas was a bit taken aback. But Ice sniffed him and curled around his leg as usual, then jumped up to lick Tas directly in his right nostril. Tas had no idea how the wolf had gotten here, but he wasn’t surprised. Ice hadn’t come to them by accident; Yao had hammered that into Tas’ brain. Ice was a part of his destiny.

Ice was watching the hovering dragon as it circled, ready to attack. But when the horned and winged beast landed it looked at them without menace, its stance was completely defensive and the dragon buried itself in its own wings.

Then, it spoke,

“Tas and Ice, I presume. Welcome to my cave. It’s quite spacious for me, but I have learnt disdain for the wretched nether.” The dragon snorted and huffed plumes of smoke into the tearing wind and his eyes were wildly chasing the clouds in the sky.

“Yes, I am Tas, this is my hound, Ice. His wolf snarled at the beast as Tas motioned to his white haired companion. The dragon continued to look defensive, but Tas could see the creature’s eyes glinting with the desire to talk. He took a step back and felt a push of hands at his back stopping him. He looked behind and saw Yao driving him forward. Behind him, walking slowly was Yaina.

The dragon looked even more curious now, it stepped closer and said in his slimy and slithery voice, “Yao, how wonderful to see you again!”

Yao laughed heartily, seeming unconcerned about the dragon’s presence. “You are the first to have said that to me in a long time,” Yao winked at Tas. “So you have brought the boy back into the nether. To set yourself free?” Yao looked sternly at the dragon.

“Yao, I am hurt,” the dragon said with dismay. “Have you not know me to be of noble intention? Haven’t you felt the abundance of my generosity?” The dragon’s voice had sharpened over the length of his speech, sounding terrifyingly unappreciated at the end.

Yao laughed. “I suppose I have not, dragon. Perhaps a demonstration is in order?”

The dragon looked incredulous for a moment, then a snarl came across his face like a breeze sweeping through a valley in preparation for a storm. His teeth glinted and the dragon replied, “Of course, Yao. It would be my pleasure.” The dragon looked as if in deep contemplation for a moment. “Though I do wish you remembered the sword I gave you when you fought against Melkar. As I remember, it helped you to slay him.”

“It did,” Yao replied, “but it also destroyed itself in the process, almost killing me. You think I would be so quick as to give my apprentice to your will without first knowing your intention?”

“My intention is the same as yours, Yao. To end Melkar.”

“I do not wish to end him, dragon. And if you are so loyal, what then is your name?”

“Arcartre; it means sly one in my parent’s tongue. We are shadow dragons, slave to the nether since times that are now forgotten. Do you wish to put a stop to this shadow fiend hunting your both or do you prefer to be pursued by this wretched shadow fiend for the entirety of your existence?”

“You know this answer Arc. I remember you more clearly now,” Yao looked at the dragon with squinty eyes, “you nearly betrayed us at the end of the battle. It didn’t seem to matter to you much if Fei lived or died.”

The dragon looked cold heartedly at Yao, “I did what I had to do to survive, Yao. Let me give your apprentice what I could not give to Fei.”

Yao huffed. Then nodded. Tas walked forward to greet the dragon properly.

Arcartre looked at Tas playfully at first, then entered his mind.

Hello boy. It is a shame we haven’t met until now, but I will show you the way that the shadow ebbs and flows. You may yet become a great weaver, if you are properly practiced. For now, you will spend your days in the nether and learn what I have to teach you. Unless you wish to die at the hands of your foe.

Tas looked at the dragon, but said nothing. He didn’t have to; he knew that this creature would teach him things that he could never unlearn; and things that Yao didn’t know. Tas looked at Yao, hesitantly. Should I follow this beast Yao?

As much as I wish I could say no, I don’t think we have a choice Tas. Melkar could find us any day in the Bahar. And you must be strong when that twisted creature comes after you.

Tas looked at the dragon with some excitement now; there was no turning back. There had never been any turning back. He thought of his mother and father in his village and knew that they would want him to go further, to push as much as he needed to. “Show me, Arcartre. What do you know of the shadow?” The dragon lowered his head and neck and Tas climbed on. He put his right hand in the center of the dragon’s wings and felt his mind enter into the dragon’s.

Arcartre leapt into the air and with a sweeping flap of his wings launched them straight up into the dark winds.

The Wanderer, Part 31

The Wanderer, Part 31

The Wanderer, Part 31

This story is part of a series, this is the thirty-first part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 30

Tas almost never dreamt anymore. Occasionally he would have a dream in the early morning, but they were nothing supernatural. His arm occasionally, but the wyrm remained dormant and he hadn’t experienced any fading into shadow or dreamwalking. He was beginning to grow much tougher in the winter cold, always pushing against the wind and the falling snow. He was strong now, and Tas knew that Ice made him much stronger. The wolf was like his eyes in the snow, they worked in unison now.

Yao was finally tiring from the hard work on moving through the snow each day. Tas could tell that he was busy planning their next move. Though he had no idea what it was.

On the way out of the door, Tas wacked Yao in the head with the end of his stick, causing a big yelp from the old man and a reflexive grab of Tas’ collar. Yao pulled him in tight and laughed, though Tas could see that the old man was weary. “You’re tired, Yao. I’ve never seen you so physically deflated.”

“Yes, I am tired. The time has almost come for us to leave these mountains and to move on. You have gotten strong in the past months and your hunting is now better than mine.” Yao glared at Ice. “The wolf makes you inhumanely good at finding prey.”

Now Yao turned to Tas more seriously, as though he’d been waiting to ask something that was now finally coming up. “Have you dreamt lately? Has the wyrm wriggled free in your dreams?”

“No, Yao, nothing. I haven’t dreamt in months!” It was weird, now that Yao mentioned it, he couldn’t remember the last dream he had. “And the wyrm has been completely meaningless for me. I’m not sure if it is even still a part of me.”

“Oh, it most certainly is Tas. I am worried, the absence of action is the same as drastic action in cases of shadow magic. You may be sitting on a time bomb… with a demonic nightmare just waiting around for one night when you slip too deeply into your sleep. It’s just like Melkar to wait as long as he needs to in order to surprise me.”

“Then we will just have to be ready for him.” Tas said eagerly, scratching Ice behind his ear while he said it.

“Yes, Tas, we will. You have gotten stronger, but it may be time to return to the monastery. Fei could help you to learn how to use the dreamwalking now, instead of simply avoiding it.” Yao’s eyes sparkled with possibility. But Tas was enjoying his time in the snow and he loved the thrill of the hunt. He would have to pack lots of jerky with him to go; he didn’t think he could return to the old ways of only small amounts of rice each day. His body had grown quite a bit and he was no longer a child. He was now a young man, as Yaina liked to remind him.

They set out into the day with the scolding morning winds, ripping through Tas’ furs as if they were napkins. Yao’s face immediately sank to the snow and they trudged off together, separate from the main pack of hunters, but moving in the same direction. Ice led, as always; Tas bridged the wolf and Yao and made sure that everyone was in the proper position in case of a stampede or of a herd moving though the area. Tas trudged slowly using his spear Ice began to take off in search for a scent while Tas and Yao looked for tracks. Ice always found something first these days.

This was the coldest day Tas had experienced. They all had to keep moving to stay warm; even Ice was grimacing against the wind. Yao lagged a little, but he looked the least affected by the conditions.

After a few more minutes, Ice picked up a trail and they moved through the icy desert until they stumbled onto a small cave. Ice stopped at the mouth of the small rock formation and sniffed before they arrived. He looked excited, but also very wary. As Tas approached the rocks, he could see that the opening was large enough for a bigger animal.

As Yao arrived last, unusual for the old man, but Tas knew that the cold was taking its toll on the old man. They would have to leave this place soon, as Yao had said.

Yao scoffed as he reached the mouth of the cave, and began to peer down expressionlessly. Tas couldn’t seem to make out what the old man was thinking, even though he knew Yao better than he knew himself at this point. Or at least close.

“There is something dark down there.” Yao said slowly.

“What do you mean?” Tas said slowly. His mind instantly rushed to Grethatch, Melkar and the nether-magic that they had encountered at the monastery. “Is it from the nether?”

“Yes.” Yao said instantly. “I can taste the shadow in the air.” It smelt like rot and dampness to Tas, but he didn’t know better. The only nether beings he had encountered were once human; except for the wyrm, which hadn’t so much as moved since his last nightmare.

As Tas thought about the wyrm, it began to squirm in his arm. He was terrified; it was obviously responding to whatever was down below.

Suddenly a sound echoed through the cave; a raspy and chilling breath that made Tas’ heart shudder. His eyes began to go dark, though they were still open and a loud ringing sound took over his hearing. He looked at Yao, who seemed to be yelling, but was making no sound. Another breath and now Tas was shaking uncontrollably. He could feel Yao’s hand on his face, but Tas had to focus completely on breathing, because he was grasping for air. Then Tas felt Ice lay next to him and with a sigh that broke through the shaking, passed out.

 

 

 

The Wanderer, Part 30

wanderer part 30

The Wanderer, Part 30

This story is part of a series, this is the thirtieth part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 29

Tas trudged behind Ice as they shoved their way through the piling snow. Tas couldn’t remember the last time he had seen the sun. It was now mid-winter and Ice was much larger, but still a pup. He was always full of energy, once they were outside in the snow he would take off and circle constantly. Tas and Yao both found him to be the most indescribably perfect companion. Yao had explained to Tas his belief in the Chi; the currents of energy flowing through the universe and that it was no coincidence that they had found the pups. Yao had begun training Ice from day 1, mostly to identify animals and to teach him how to be a scout for their hunting party. They had become quite an efficient team; once Ice had begun to point them in the direction of prey, they were easily able to find several of the packs of elk and buffalo off the nose of their new wolf friend. Occasionally Ice would find a fox, or a smaller critter like a snow rabbit, and Tas wasn’t quite sure how he did it, but Ice would just be sitting there, eating a new carcass, or playing with his food before decapitating it with his massive teeth and jaw.

They would find food today, Tas was sure of it. He continued to huddle in his jacket, the wind was fierce and icy as the ground. Ice ran ahead, crossing into the upper ridges while Yao and Tas trudged below.

They moved through the swift wind and deep snow. It was now mid-winter and they needed more food to survive. They had been very efficient with their hunting lately, but Yao was charitable; he had given away too much of their catch to their neighbors. If they caught nothing today, Tas would go hungry tonight and tomorrow would be a struggle. Yao would as well.

Ice continued through the snow, head down, his white fur covered with icicles, though Tas couldn’t see them now, as he was just barely visible on the ridge line of the mountain. Tas shielded his eyes when the wind howled through their canyon. Yao wasn’t talking again; it was miserable. Suddenly, Ice picked up a trail, and as fast as Tas had ever seen, took off over the cliff. Tas and Yao followed, Ice would wait for them below, hidden in the snow.

Tas heaved side to side trying to keep his momentum going upwards. Yao and he would take breaks in the lead to keep their speed up, usually they would switch twice every hill. They finally made it to the top, breathing heavily and sweating which they normally tried to avoid; but their dinner was at stake.

Tas could just barely make out Ice against the lower levels of the ridge and a pack of hairy ice elk were huddling together, protecting their young in the center. That was fine; Tas would shoot an arrow through the eyes of one of the males. He had plenty of practice, but had never seen male elk this tall before.

He lined up his sight of the bow, arrow notched in his cord. He flexed his bow hard, the wood moved with his hands and he remembered what he had felt so often lately; the rush of his focus. Time seemed to slow down, his vision became clearer and he could see in more detail, and he seemed to think and react faster. Tas looked down at his scar momentarily and saw it seething; was this curse also some kind of gift?

He refocused on the largest male elk and shot him right in the head with his thickest arrowhead. Ice ran out after the arrow made contact and grabbed the elk by the neck, and ripped its throat open. The pack had fled in the confusion, the elk didn’t even know what had hit him when he collapsed. Ice was ecstatic, he was eating the neck and head; Yao always let him get some of the larger kills before they skinned it and cut out the meat. Yao began immediately, tearing the fur away with his sharpest dagger.

They spent the next two hours tearing the meat away from the bones and Ice patrolled the outskirts. They had to make sure no larger predators came to steal their catch until they were done taking all of the meat that they could carry. They finished getting as much as they could and began to walk back through the snow, leaving the carcass behind. Some other animal would come to finish it off, Tas was sure.

They moved as fast as they could with the arms full and their packs were heavy. They took a break when they reached the halfway point, much to the dismay of Ice. Yao pointed out that they had to carry much more than Ice in the way that only Yao could and Ice quieted. They drank their water and continued through the snow, ready for the long day to be over and to sit down and cook their catch. Tas had truly learned the full appreciation of his food from Yao, that was something that he couldn’t deny. He looked at the old man, swinging exhaustedly into the snow, so close to their home that he could see the shadows of the fire dancing on the snow outside.

Yaina and her warm smile were ready inside with soup and blankets for both of them. Tas had grown to appreciate Yao’s niece in so many ways. The house was nearly always spotless and she greeted them each day as they arrived back from the cold. She was like a second mother to him.

They undressed to their undergarments and wore the blankets over their shoulders and sat down to slowly drink their soup and warm their bodies. The end of the day always seemed to be so cold. But wearing light clothes and drinking their soup, they felt like kings for the ten minutes that they rested.

Then Yao got up to begin curing and cutting the meat for their dinner and to be made into jerky. Tas helped him, then began cooking both of their steaks once Yao had gotten through most of the meat to be put aside for jerky. But the sizzling of the venison was so appetizing that Tas’ mouth began to water.

As they sat down to eat, Tas couldn’t help but grin, he was so happy. They ate in near silence, the three of them enthralled by their meal and the new energy coursing through their bodies. Tas ate until his stomach hurt, then lied down and fell immediately into his sleep; this day was like the day before and the days before that and Tas was getting stronger with each one that passed.

 

 

The Wanderer, Part 28

The_Wanderer_Part_28_jim-brandenburg_arctic_wolf

The Wanderer, Part 28

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-eighth part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 27

 

Tas continued through the thick snow barely tracing Yao’s footsteps through the darkening sky. They were nearing the end of the day and hadn’t found anything yet; nothing since they saw the three men killed by the bear. The continued against the mountain, traveling back down the steep hills and slopes, but still alert for anything that they could hunt. Tas could tell that Yao had gotten very tired; his pace had slowed by at least half and he kept catching up to the old man. The wind started to bear down heavily on them and they continued their descent crouched against the side of the mountain to shield from the wind as much as they could.

Tas looked up the mountain and saw a larger beast roaming, some kind of white wolf. It pushed forward against the side of the mountain like them, but kept its head lowered and continued forward quickly through the harsh winds. It was far above them, but the majestic animal was hard to take his eyes from.

Tas continued on a higher slope through the snow, watch the wolf as it moved against the wind and off into the distance. Yao was slowing down again, Tas could tell he was distracted.

He unwrapped his mouth from his leather neck-strap and spoke loudly in Tas’ ear, though just loud enough to compete with the raging wind. “We should track the Wolf’s den!” Yao shouted. “We could find a kill to steal!”

Tas nodded, though he was skeptical. This was one of the first times that he had ever hunted and he found the whole ordeal to be completely pointless. There was far more waiting, moving slowly, and stalking than he had initially expected.

Yao moved at a faster pace now, their daylight was running out and Tas knew that they would be fighting the clock to return to Bahar before dark. It seemed to get colder every minute.

They found the wolf’s prints easily and followed them back over the mountains, though after 30 minutes they turned to moved down a slope. Another 30 minutes of wading through the dense snow and they reached a rocky outcropping; the den.

Yao began slowly, moving in towards the sheltered outcropping and then motioned for Tas to do the same. Tas could hear a faint whispering sound through the stone, almost as if someone were yelping inside. Yao looked back at Tas, having heard the same sounds and they continued forward. There were pups in the small cave. Yao found them, maybe a month old, hiding in a warm thicket of brush, leaves, and pine needles. There were three of them, one was asleep and the other two were yelping and trying to move away for Yao, but unsuccessfully.

Yao picked one up by the back of its neck and held it up for Tas to see. A pure white coat was growing heavily over some spots and mostly pink skin. It was cold in the cave, but the pups seemed to be alright. Tas pet one for a moment, then found himself being bit savagely by the pup’s already long canines. It began to play with his tattered leather jacket and Tas realized that it was snuggling against him and trying to get warm. Almost as if it liked him.

Yao saw the whole thing and started to get that stern look that meant he was thinking hard. He grabbed the second pup that was awake; this one was a boy and much more rambunctious. Almost immediately Yao had to lower the pup quickly back to the ground because it was biting him savagely in the hand. Tas’ pup was rather more quiet and alert.

We should bring these two with us. We can train them to hunt with the Bahar, and perhaps you can train that one.

Tas was stunned. The possibility of taking this animal with him had never even crossed his mind.

“What about the mother? Won’t she worry?” Tas was not happy to split apart a small family; it reminded him of his mother.

“These pups have a much greater chance of survival with us. They could be hunted within the next few weeks; most Bahar would eat wolf pups; or they would likely die to the elements. Life in the high mountains is not easy Tas.”

Tas nodded, though he didn’t really understand. It felt wrong to take this pup from its mother, but like Yao said, it would probably die if he didn’t.

“We should just bring the one.” Tas offered. He felt guilty about taking one, but if he left the other two, he could feel better about it. He was already starting to think of names.

“No, we have to take two.” Yao sighed. “My cousins will require a payment if we are to eat tonight. We must either kill one to eat, or offer it as a gift to them. They have quite a large bestiary actually; the pup would be a hunter and have a nice life in the palace.”

Tas was very sad to leave the cave with the young wolf pup in his hands; he felt as if he were robbing a man of his most precious jewel; but Yao continued to remind him that it was for the best. Yao hadn’t been wrong yet. Tas sighed, then left the last pup behind and went with the old man.

Even as he felt guilty, he could feel the young pup warming herself against his chest and he thought of the perfect name, Ice. He smiled then said to the pup inside of his jacket; “What do you think of Ice? Do you like it?” A small yelp confirmed his suspicions; this was no average animal and no small coincidence. Tas looked up at the sky, darkness was settling heavily on the landscape. They continued against the harsh winds and Tas felt the pup now keeping him warm as they trudged through the snow; it was colder and windier than anything Tas had ever felt. He was so thankful to have the pup to keep him warm now that he began to forget his hesitations about taking the pup from its mother. He began to get a funny feeling that he would need Ice far more than she would need him. He shuttered against the cold, sure that they had another hour to trek before they would arrive in Bahar. But the pup kept him warm and he enjoyed checking in with her every few minutes.

“What do you think Ice? Is there a god?”

The pup was silent this time; perhaps she had fallen asleep. Yao was starting to move faster now so Tas doubled his speed and continued towards the old man, with his new companion wrapped snuggly against his chest. Into the cold they marched, against the wind and ready for this long day to come to an end.

 

Teaching Yoga Full-Time (Stepping in)

Teaching Yoga Full-Time Elliot's Crow Pose in Mysore Palace

Teaching Yoga Full-Time in California

is simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. I’ve had people walk out in the middle of class and ask for their money back. I’ve had people come up to me after class completely blown back by what I taught that day. I’ve also had people that I could tell didn’t enjoy my class or felt that something was missing in it, but don’t mention anything. I think a lot of people have really enjoyed themselves in my class, but think about the spectrum of reactions to different forms of art and you start to get a general idea of the types of response my yoga teaching gets.

At the end of the day, I realize that my class is valuable and that my particular subjective take on yoga is simply one subjective view; but that also gives me a lot of room to create my art. That is why I feel comfortable teaching yoga full-time; I’ve practiced enough to feel as though I should be a guide for others. I draw upon multiple teachers, a journey through India and into Southeast Asia, a journey through China, and my junior year of studying in Paris to create something that I consider invaluable; expressions of peace, love, and life. My yoga is definitely unique and constantly evolving. But, at the end of the day, letting go of “my yoga” is just as important as anyone else letting go of their ego while practicing yoga.

Full-Time Yoga Teaching

Over the last two weeks I have pushed myself pretty hard. I’ve taught 9 classes in 5 days and 10 classes in a four-day weekend, which is quite a bit. I’m also working other jobs to make ends meet, so after this last week I have been exhausted. I’m aching to create music, but yoga is taking priority right now, which I like. I enjoy sacrificing one form of art for another. And it’s nice to have an excuse to practice extra yoga.

Make no mistake, yoga teachers are absolutely undervalued by our society. I blame a lot of this on the overly religious assholes out there like the evangelical ministers who prey of people’s weak beliefs in god to make money (check out this episode of “Last Week Tonight“, its great!) and other types of people who try to make spirituality into a profitable enterprise at the cost of their consumers. We are considered more or less exercise coaches that might have some experiences with meditation and spirituality. But in reality, there is a ton of sacrifice that goes into teaching yoga full-time that the majority of Yogins never see. Every class takes more effort than the time in the studio and many times it is at least an extra hour of work (not including driving). But at the end of a class, the reward of having happy people around you far outweighs the costs of what it took to teach yoga that day.

Making Ends Meet

I have recently added a Friday night Yin class to my schedule at East Wind Yoga in Auburn, CA and that means I will be teaching 5 classes each week, not including substituting for other teachers, which I do as often as I can. It’s about enough to pay rent and eat extremely minimally, so I have to find other work on the side, tutoring, doing odd-jobs, and most recently I’ve started driving for Lyft, though it’s not an everyday opportunity for me. This site is just getting close to breaking even, though it’s not very expensive because I do most development myself.

So it’s pretty hard to make a living wage as simply a yoga teacher. I think it will be possible in the future, but right now it’s not. That means I don’t get to spend all of my time on my art, which is a shame, but I have high hopes that yoga will become more respected in the near future. Plus, who knows, I’ll probably open my own studio eventually. First, I want to become a better teacher and build-up to sustaining myself by teaching yoga. Music will always be happening as long as I have extra time to spend learning and creating in front of my computer. Music has become a single pointed obsession, perhaps even more than when I first started practicing yoga. It’s as if I’ve found something I’ve wanted to do my entire life, except I’m 26 and have graduated from college and neither yoga nor music were things that I studied or cared about then. I’ve always loved music, but began making music when I was 24 after I downloaded a trial of Ableton Live. I played clarinet in third grade and it made me despise music, honestly. I feel like I found my passions a little too late in the game.

But alas, always in my mind there is hope and self-confidence and I will pursue what I feel called to do, which right now means teaching yoga on a full-time schedule and doing work on the side. Ramping up more and more to create sustenance for myself, then using what I can to fuel my musical and artistic endeavors. Obviously, writing will be a large part of this as well, and I’m just finishing a new painting. I’m also going to put out a podcast on Sundays with my friend Kyle, but we haven’t quite gotten started on that yet so don’t hold your breathe. Honestly, I just want to create all kinds of things over the next 60 years or so until I have to stop because I’m an old man or dead. It’s all about the future generations and creating for them. The youngsters and the kids.

It’ll take a few more weeks to get truly comfortable in an apartment by myself, cooking a lot, driving, etc, but I am definitely happy where I am. I get to ride my bike to teach two yoga classes today, which will be a blast in less-than-crowded streets of Sacramento! I really enjoy cities, especially after spending a lot of time in Paris when I was 20. Moving back to Sacramento is really a cool feeling, now it’s as if I am trying to affect and support the people who I grew up with in the place that I am from. It feel right, whatever the fuck that means.

Following Passion

I am sure that I will be happy over the next few weeks, for the pure joy of following things I love to do. Struggling makes me feel alive, I’ll always want a little bit of discomfort. I guess what is right feels good to me at this point, which means I am at least somewhat aligned with whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing here. Onwards and upwards I guess!

 

 

The Wanderer, Part 23

image from shaddyconceptart.com/

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-third part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 22

Tas woke with a harsh sneeze that echoed off the trees and shook a bit of snow into his eyes. He shook his head to get rid of the dusting of snow in his hair then stood to shake the rest of the snow from his clothes. Yao had pelted a deer three nights before and made jerky with a lot of the meat, so they wouldn’t need food for another month. Plenty of time to get wherever they were going. Yao still hadn’t said anything really. He just walked

Yao was already awake and about; he had just finished making his morning tea and handed Tas the scalding cup, which he had learned to hold carefully with his sleeves after Yao poured it. The old man seemed to be impervious to the heat and he chugged it like it was lukewarm chocolate milk.

In the past days the old man was silent; as they approached the upper heights of the mountains Tas could see his gaze darting up the mountain, looking for things Tas couldn’t see. Somehow seeing them. Tas didn’t know what the old man was doing, but he was certain it involved magic. There was a blur in his eyes, and the freedom in his expression were unquestioning, hollow, simply euphoric. As they continued their walk forward and upward Tas pulled him back by grabbing his arm.

The old man shook his head for a moment, then his eyes refocused on Tas, “Why’d you do that? I was watching them!” He pointed at the huge ice wall in front of them, nearly covered in white wind from the hearty winds passing through. After a minute or so of staring Tas could just barely make out a couple of black dots slowly climbing the white sheer cliff. They looked liked ants.

Tas felt his arm grabbed violently, but didn’t respond. He knew that Yao was playing some game. He began to zoom in further on the climbers, deepening his concentration until he saw them much closer. He could still feel Yao’s grasp grow tighter on his arm. What was the old man doing to him. He could see the powerful strokes of each climber’s iron traction against the ice now, he was so close. They wore suits with spikes pointed downwards to keep them flush against the ice, black and grey and silvery fur lined their bodies and heads. In this part of the world Yao said it never melted.

He felt his vision increase further and could nearly see their grizzled faces. There were more than eight climbers that he had counted, though there could have been more below. Each was a man at least twice as old as Tas, each had a mantle of some extravagant type of bear. Not old men, but certainly strong men. They tore up the cliffside as they passed through, moving steadily upwards. They wore furs from all kinds of animals, wolves, elk, bears, including one that was dressed in all white, probably from a polar bear. The man was massive to match, but Tas thought for a second about how much help the man would have needed to kill such a creature. These men must be elite hunters. The fur looked whole and his eyesight grew even more powerful to see it closer. But he decided it was enough and his head was already hurting again.

He closed his eyes and grabbed Yao’s arm, moving it away from him. Yao huffed and walked away, but it took a few minutes for Tas’ vision to return. When it came back, it was still a bit blurry.

“Don’t worry boy, it’ll return in the morning all the way. Probably better than before honestly.” Yao gave him a little wink and a big grin as if he’d just handed the world to Tas. Tas didn’t really understand, but he knew that Yao was smarter than him. He was far too light-headed to think rationally right now. Maybe he could do it himself now that Yao had taught him? He got up and forgot all about it in his suffering in the cold with his headache.

They continued walking through the snow, both were well fed from the big stockpile of jerky that made when they killed an elk a week ago in some lower forests so they had plenty of energy. They had to take their time to get used to the altitude and to ensure that they arrived unseen. Yao said that it was essential.

Tas and Yao made their way leisurely and slowly up the trees and through the snow. It was colder up here, but their newly tanned hides kept them warm at night. Each day was a day of drudgery, looking, and boredom, though they were both beginning to run low of energy. The snow seemed to take it from them.

Yao continued to lead through the enormous patches of trees, some that were wider and taller than anything Tas could have imagined. These trees seemed to grow up into the sky and their bark was thick as armor.

They went through the largest patch of trees Tas had seen yet, before emerging from the trees into the center of a group of buildings. They were small white huts made partially from snow, partially from treated wood. It was cold enough up here to ensure that the ice would not melt and each hut was closed shut with a large chimney billowing up into the sky. Tas counted twelves huts, but he was sure that he missed some. And he was only looking at a single area. They continued to trudge through the snow, moving towards a larger, more central location probably. Yao seemed to move very cautiously, as if he were ready for the worst possibility. But they continued through the rusty pink dusk they could barely see through the scattered storm until they arrived at a particularly small hut with a noticeably bigger-than-average chimney.

Yao led them inside to be greeted by a woman who could have been the same age as Tas’ mother. She turned out to be Yao’s niece, as she explained while she gathered things for Tas to bath and redress. Her name was Yaina and she said that she would make sure that Tas was ready for what would happen in the morning. Yao nodded his approval and went upstairs with her to talk of what had happened to them, and why they had come here.

Tas was exhausted, his head hurt from the long days of walking through ice and sleet. He would rest for the night and was happy enough to not move at all after finishing his shower and dressing in his undergarments for a quick rise the morning.

Yaina brought him soup as he was settling down for bed, some light potato with a morsel of cheese and some tomato. He ate a few bites, then told Yaina he was finished. He rolled over onto his back to go to sleep. She paused for a moment and rubbed Tas back slowly, her hand was like a motherly protection, he could feel himself nodding off to sleep, slowly yet surely. He hadn’t been touched in so long, not at the monastery, not really in his travels with Yao. He could feel the warmth spreading out from her fingers.

He opened his eyes one last time, but fell right back into a dark sleep.

 

Returning Home

A nice return sunset in #Sacramento #nature #sky #sunset #colorful

A photo posted by Elliot | ET (@pada_yogi) on

I’m back to teaching yoga again. Back home, in Sacramento, back to the westernized suburban life, back to clean water, fresh food, reliable transportation. It’s weird to think about the future, to plan, to be bombarded with advertising and Television regularly, to feel like I always need to be doing something.

Western life has more leisure time. But I want to work. I can be more focused now, especially on the daily life of teaching and maintaining a high level of fitness and mental capacity in making music, writing, and painting. I want to create. I just need to get into a groove in my own space.

Sacramento is a cool city. I’m drinking coffee occasionally, which has only happened once before, due to the great cafe joint across the street. The other time was 4 years ago in Paris. This place’s cappuccino’s are superb. I like quality coffee; I don’t consider Starbucks to be quality, it just pretends to be. It’s not bad, which I dislike. There is also a Thai place down the road that is quite literally better than most of the Thai food I had in Thailand! America gets pretty much the best food in the world. Of course it’s better in Paris. I want to start performing downtown

Living on my own is a must at this point. So I’ll do what I need to do to find work, maybe I’ll get a part-time job as well as being an instructor. It all depends on what happens with yoga, really how many classes I can get per week. I think that teaching group exercise classes is a great way to get people happy enough to meet each other and be nice and all of that. Yoga tends to be very relaxing and helps people to acclimatize.

I’m hoping I can get near 15 classes a week. That’s pretty ambitious though, especially for the competition in the Sacramento area. I really want to see how I can do if I teach all the time, I want it to become second nature, like using my computer or driving a car. We’ll see how it goes.