Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
Thoughts from the Puja (Brunching style):
(By the way, "puja" or "pooja" is a South Indian word for "Hindu religious ceremony.")
Regarding the first item: I deeply respect the minds of at least two atheists whom I know. And if they're right, then I've been wrong for many, many years. I used to think that it's simply a matter of faith, which I have and they don't, case closed. And now a shard of doubt has entered the picture. I can see that all the explanations and premises and beliefs seem ridiculous and irrational to a nonbeliever. Why do I believe? It can't be enough that "I need God in my life to help me and to explain and guide me through difficult situations." I can't have a solely convenient belief.
I guess I'm having a crisis of faith.
Manual labor today! I beat a bunch of sofa cushions, kneaded dough and made dough balls for puri, and squeegee'd the windshield and back window of my parents' car. On the first two: I have heard people say that kneading dough and beating cushions are great cathartic activities, for stress relief. "Get out all that anger and frustration!" I didn't really feel angry at anyone, though. I imagine the Tick would say, "Take that, Communism! And that, evildoer!" And Judge John J. Justice: "I'm beating the injustice out of these pillows!" But I just focused on getting a lot of dust out of the cushions. I tried singing to make the time go by faster. I wish I knew more slave spirituals and union-organizing songs. All I know is a verse of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the refrain of "Whose Side Are You On?" And I sang "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain When She Comes" and "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land" -- the latter of which, I hear, used to be a leftist song, with verses about union-busting and the like, when Woody Guthrie first wrote it.
Anyway, I overdid it a little bit on the hitting of the cushions, and now I have sort of a proto-callus on one of my hands. Ow. We limp-wristed, lily-livered desk-job types sometimes need a reminder that we are all bodies. We're all, as I think Douglas Adams wrote, just ugly sacks of mostly water. If this callus didn't hurt so much, I'd treasure it even more.
A few weeks ago -- about a month -- I did a bunch of hot, sweaty, dirty manual labor for the first time in years. In the 80-90 degree F heat, I moved stuff, dug up dirty stuff from a garden, cleaned, moved more stuff, and didn't even want to wipe my face because my hands were so dirty. And then I got to shower for the first time in two or three days, and just sit on a couch and bask with the other person with whom I'd done all this. And it was so much joy.
My hands hurt and my brain reels.