I attended an outdoor yoga gathering over the weekend to kick off Virginia yoga week. (Yes, there is such a thing. Namaste, y’all.) The downtown pavilion was a patchwork of mats. I saw every color in the rainbow–red, blue, purple, green, and that was only the tattoo of the dude sitting next to me. He had an eye (among other things) tattoed on his bicep, and it watched over me like a horror-house portrait, following me as I moved from pose to pose.
The crowd covered the gamut of yogista types, from om-mani-padme-hum to Ath-leta-Lu-lu-lemon. The temps topped ninety, and the crowd had prepped for seven hours of unintentionally hot yoga by mixing a little iced chai with their chi. Reusable cups, natch. The air was full of love and peace and organic SPF 50 sunscreen.
Once we began, I was grateful for the warmth as we moved through various asanas. I stretched farther and bent deeper. I felt rooted to the earth, yet supple and willowy, which at my age doesn’t happen too often.
Looking around me, I actually teared up a little. There’s something powerful about seeing so many humans moving in unison. We can coexist in harmony, as long as money isn’t involved and we don’t think about it too much.
So there I was, blissed out, feeling all connected and spiritual, and I looked down to see a stink bug on my mat.
For me, stink bugs rank somewhere between incorrect apostrophe use and people who stop at the top of escalators. If I’d been home, I would have grabbed some toilet paper and flushed the intruder (assuming the cats hadn’t gotten to it first) and been done with it. But I wasn’t home. I was at a gathering of folks whose primary principle is ahimsa. Do no harm.
“Time to move on, buddy.” I nudged the beast with my finger. He didn’t even wave an antennae at me.
“Look you,” I cooed in a voice reserved for toddlers and puppies. “I’m letting you off easy. I need this space, so please move.” The stink bug dug its little stink bug feet into my mat. It wasn’t going anywhere.
“Fine. Have it your way.” I gave him a gentle flick with my finger. Really gentle. Just enough to move him to the side. Or so I thought.
The stink bug caught major air and flew about five feet directly under the behind of the woman in front of me as she lowered into child’s pose, trapping the stink bug under her yoga-pant covered asana. I checked the guy next to me. The tattoo eye had seen it all.
Surely Karma would take it easy on me. I didn’t mean for the stink bug to meet his untimely end under someone’s booty. I was a victim of unintended consequences.
About this time the woman stood up to pack up her things, I looked for the critter in both possible locations while trying to avoid looking creepy. Nothing. Maybe I hadn’t killed the stink bug. Perhaps I just enabled it to experience the joy of effortless high-speed flight.
Just as I contemplated the cosmos forgiving me for my transgressions, the woman saw the stink bug clinging to the side of her yoga pants. She squealed, flicked the bug to the ground and crushed it under her sandal.
She looked at me and turned bright red.
I put up a reassuring hand. “I probably would have done the same thing.”
We both looked at the tattooed watchman, who shrugged us off. “Man, I hate those fuckers,”
The woman picked up her mat and walked away. I looked at the stink bug, on its back, legs up, reminding me that I was the beginning of the chain of events that led to his demise.
And then it flipped over and flew away. Only a stink bug could be annoying enough to be reincarnated as a stink bug.
“I guess her conscience is clear.” All I could do is laugh.
As we both moved back into the flow of the class, swear I saw his tattoo wink.