Reflections on Moments in Time…
Peculiar and what I believe to be not so random “themes” have been weaving themselves into my life lately. It’s interesting because for the first time, I’m not looking for answers. I’m not looking for anything or anyone to cling to, and I’m seeing everything in the past and present more clearly than ever before. The theme that has really stuck out to me this past month is “the natural process of time.”
A few days ago I had lunch with my yoga ladies. My yoga ladies are long time students who have become dear friends. They are all around my parents age, give or take. Today our lunch conversations involved aging, death, and health. A few weeks ago, I went to a yoga workshop with a famous teacher, and part of the discussion included a story about visiting one of his teachers/friends in the hospital right before he passed away. The whole ride home, I thought about how my students, and my yoga ladies have been some of my greatest teachers. I realized I’ll likely outlive most of my greatest teachers. Suddenly I was crying, which is something I do almost daily. These tears were ones of joy and gratitude. I thought about how life is a natural process. How no matter how hard we try to disrupt it, it inevitably perseveres, and often gives us what we need instead of what we want.
Friday night, I head to my parents house. Exhausted, I lay on the chair and put my ginger-ale (fancy sober Friday treat) on the table next to me. On the table I see a book I always glanced at when I was younger, but never bothered to read because it was an “adult” book. I open it, glance at the first page, and decide I’ll take it home. I get home and open it to a page that is titled, “Five Years Later” To a Former Lover From a Married Woman, by Maril Crabtree. Ironically, my 5 year wedding anniversary is coming up, and this poem sounds like something I could have written if I could have articulated the words to do so. I reflect back on a time that I’d prefer not to, but it’s pretty clear to me at this point avoidance is no longer an option. Also in this book, are several passages about life, aging, and dying. The natural process of time is certainly trying to present itself to me.
So I start to go down memory lane for a bit. I think about how before I got engaged, my *first love* came back into the picture as a “friend,” which ended up being a rather unexpected and confusing period of my life. I think about what if. Not in a longing way, not in an uncertain way, just an ever curious way that will always linger to some degree. I look in the mirror and I think to myself that despite being young, I really could have tried harder in that relationship. Not because it would have lasted, not because I necessarily wanted it to, but in general, I could have tried harder. I think to myself that I really could have tried harder in college. I think to myself that I really could have pushed myself to dance professionally. I think to myself that I really could have tried to be a better friend to some, and to keep certain friendships going. I think to myself that I really could have tried harder the first few years of my marriage. I really could have tried harder at being less selfish and more present. I could have tried harder at communicating, and at being a better listener. I think to myself that I really could have tried harder at keeping myself healthy so that I could be a better mom. If this is the part where I’m supposed to say that I’m going to be kind to myself and that none of that is true, I’m sorry to disappoint. All of the above is undoubtedly true.
Here comes the but. I certainly could have given 150% at all of the above mentioned moments. But I didn’t. Whether by chance or fate, I made choices, or I chose not to make them. I’m not going to sit here and say that everything happens for a reason, because honestly, I think a lot of life is just chance. I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect and all my choices have been justified. I’m not going to avoid taking accountability for my shortcomings.
I will, however, acknowledge that by not trying “harder” in all of these moments, I was brought to where I needed to be. For a long time I was too stubborn to admit my bad habits, so life showed them to me again and again. Life did this in the form of the consequences and blessings of my own choices. I fought looking at these consequences and blessings in the eye for 10 years, and then one morning I woke up and just felt different. I couldn’t deny that a shift was happening. I sat with this feeling and eventually I knew what I had to do. I was finally ready to put in the work, and that work didn’t mean trying harder at anything other than making choices in my life from a place of confidence and grounding. Not a place of anxiety or depression. Not a place of impulsivity, greed, or ego. Not a place of what others expect of me or what’s “appropriate.” That meant I’d have to switch up my routine. It meant I’d have to give away some of what I kept in my comfort zone in order to make space for new habits, new thoughts, and this new season of my life.
I went in to teach this morning, and I reflected back on the events of the past month, and on this little life revelation I had while looking in my bathroom mirror on a random Friday. I remembered how last month when I went to the David Swenson weekend in Massachusetts, he said you should be giving 80% in your practice, not 100. Hearing that was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders. I began my class by telling them a brief story (sparing them all the details of my overthinking.) I told them this,
“I looked in the mirror and reflected back on moments of my life. I said to myself, “you know Phoenix, you really could have tried harder at that.” And the truth is I absolutely could have, but perhaps I wasn’t meant to. I could have tried harder, but perhaps I wasn’t meant to. So today as we practice, give yourself permission to find the balance between effort and ease. Let go of ego and allow yourself to explore what that place of balance feels like.”
- I’ll make a yoga video of the practice that went along with it soon. It was a level 2 Vinyasa practice.
photo by jmansfieldphoto.com