Shaky Ground • 30 August 2008

Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity.    

-William Hazlitt

I use this word, grace, sometimes when I really mean it. But maybe I don’t even know what I mean. Above, grace = directness, congrousness, unflinchingness and ease, all in action.

Rather, is it about containing difficulty and unease, but acting anyway? A light touch where you could have gone with a bold proclamation, kind of thing. (In the Christian tradition, grace is forgiveness by God of our fundamental sin nature despite our own inabilities to ever redeem ourselves by action. Right. Good to watch for that old narrative creeping in.)

Someone called the recent criticism of the Ashtanga lineage holders “graceless,” and in a way I agreed–though, also, fear of critical thought and extreme emotional involvement in these politics to the point of being very upset by them are graceless as well. Yes? Grace allows someone to observe it all a little peacefully.

What I agreed with was this: to be graceless is to forget you’re always on shaky ground. It's losing your gratitude, or at least your circumspection. Become uncircumspect, fall down.

Hazlitt’s grace is fearless, which I like; but it's surfacy. Not for itself or necessarily conscious of uncertainty–that is, countervailing laws of physics, the provisionality of all metaphysics, when death will come, imperfection of teachers, and such.

Seems like with respect to what we do, if there is grace, it may be a quality of consciousness … though at the same time one of breath, of a capacity to be direct in movement, in an ability to rest the eyes time and again on nothing in particular.