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Non-attachment in the Cap East District

This week I learned that the plan for Metcalf's grocery store to anchor a new development on the 800 block of East Washington Street fell through. The news shocked me and I felt misled. I guess I was attached to an idea I thought was more certain than it actually was.

I have studied and practiced yoga since 1997. There are two main tenants of yoga, as explained in the sacred texts called the Yoga Sutras. All of yoga rests on these ideas. They are typically translated as Practice and Non-Attachment.

Ahbyasa (practice) and Vairagya (non-attachment) are like the two wings of a bird: you need both to fly.

Nothing is certain, but you do your practice anyway.  My initial disappointment in hearing the news has faded a little as I remember that nothing has really changed: I'm still living here, I still care about the park and the neighborhood, and I'll still buy food and eat. Though of course, I was excited by the prospect of walking to a grocery store without having to cross busy East Wash.

There are a lot of ideas flying around about the future of the "Cap East District." People are full of enthusiasm. The changes discussed are ripe with potential. We who live here need to stay mildly un-attached while still invested.

In other words, amazing and smart people are paying attention and working on stuff, big and small, that they feel will make life a bit better. It's a practice. The results are uncertain and will probably surprise us.

For example, in other news this week, maybe there will be a public market in Madison one day. This idea has been discussed for more than 10 years, but is now the time? The study, led by the Project for Public Space, recommends two near east sites as the most ideal locations.

I'm currently reading a copy of the Yoga Sutras translated by a yogi named Nischala Joy Devi. She interprets the term Vairagya as "remembering the self." Instead of encouraging cold and uncaring behavior (which non-attachment may do), she instead digs to the heart of the concept. By remembering the part of myself that is always ok, undisturbed, and at ease, I can be more comfortable with the natural flow of things like fickle city planning. High speed train plans come, and go. I've been shocked and disappointed before.

I'm eager to hear what ideas will come down the river next. There is chatter about a music district on East Main Street drawing energy from the Mighty Yahara and taking advantage of the area's cool warehouse vibe. There are some folks working on that....stay tuned.

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