No one telling you that you're strong enough will ever convince you otherwise. So I'm not here to tell you that. I'm not here to tell myself that, either.
What I am here to tell you is that standing on the edge sucks big time. I'm not a lover of edges. But you know what else? I'm not too enamored of becoming a backing-away-from-the-edge kind of girl, either. That's almost as bad, far more stifling, and far more paralyzing than stepping to the edge, double-thinking, triple-thinking your decision to be there in the first place.
My good goddess--even a lousy crash and burn is better than the anxiety of waiting, the anxiety of giving up control to some third party to make the decision for you.
Think about the landing--the splash, the sting, or the effortless dive under. You'll survive them all, you'll have a story to tell, and finally (finally), a question answered.
I've found that when I make heart-centered decisions (and, by this, I mean I quite literally picture my brain moving down into my ribcage and interpreting the information closer to the source; my brain is too good at taking meandering paths in its translation otherwise...), I usually make the right one.
That sounds daft, perhaps. Oversimplified. Well, maybe. But I don't know any other way to put it. I've regretted so many decisions I've made in my life and, looking back, all of those decisions were made through a careful weighing of the facts, projecting forward for "my best interest," crunching numbers (okay...imaginary numbers....), and hoping to strategize a way to move forward.
Teaching is hard. But that's like one of those truths we hold to be self-evident. And while we are all equal, we don't communicate in the same way. We don't process information in any way close to formulaic.
It's times like these I really envy Patanjali... The yogi-nerds out there will know the mythology, which I'll hopelessly butcher here, no doubt, but it goes something like this: Patanjali taught his students from behind a screen. Students from all over the world flocked to him for his teaching and, despite his never speaking a word to anyone, everyone left with the knowledge of yoga.
One day, one of his students stood up to take a break of sorts, and that broke the concentration in the room. The other students began to wonder how this man could teach so many different individuals, some with no language in common between them, without ever saying a word.
So, of course, they looked behind the screen and, of course, were suddenly all burned to ashes (you can't break the master's first...
I am such a huge offender on this issue--not that my life *should* be a certain way (I gave up hope of control in that area ages ago), but that I should be doing something, anything, in any given moment--that I already ask for too much and, if I take a moment to regroup, to breathe, to rest, I'll be taking even more. The world (and the people in my world) have already been so generous, so gracious with me, that I'm afraid I'll be seen as one who takes advantage.
Do we all do this? I think we do. We must be seen to be busy, thought of as busy. And not just busy. No, we must be productive. Producing. Well, I guess the word doesn't even matter anymore. We need to prove our worth, our existence--at least that's how most of us feel. Indebted.
And, man, indebted is a rough place to be--it breeds, alternatively, honest gratitude and uncontrollable resentment. You're being taken care of, yes, but you've lost the control (or feel as though you have) of the *taking care* bit....
Well. Here I am, closer to middle-age than drinking-age, and just yesterday I realized I have pretty much managed my entire personality for all of my remembered life. (I don't think I'm alone on this). Somewhere, along the way (school, probably), I realized that the quiet kids, the ones who REALLY WOULD rather be reading in the corner than out in some organized playground takeover, have every right to defend their innate personalities.
Don't get me wrong--we all do stuff we don't want to do. That's life. And I loved the playground as much as the next kid, but give me the monkey bars or a swing--not a group activity. Please. But groups rule the world (and the schools), and while we quiet guys have to adapt to survive childhood (at least during school hours), we DON'T have to do it into adulthood, by god.
But we do. It's habit. It's ingrained. All along, I thought I was doing pretty well, but yesterday, while hiking, I realized I'd been checking in with others all my life--makin...
I've decided to stop using a ruler on my life. Easier said than done, I know. So I've given myself a little assistance. In the yogic tradition, we have this concept of changes happening over a very, very long time (dirgha kala; specifically, Yoga Sutra 1.14: "When that practice is done for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation;" "sah tu dirgha kala nairantaira satkara asevitah dridha bhumih").
So, if that works for yoga, and if yoga is life (btw, it is), then I guess I'm okay. I guess I'm not too old, too late, too dependent, too harried, too tired. I mean, I feel all of these things, for sure, but in the grand scheme of things? If I get to do this again, retaining only a little of what I've managed to learn in this incarnation? Well, I guess that would be okay.
So this thought occurred to me (and if it's true, it's going to save me a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of hard, fruitless labor). What if we aren't meant to hold it all together? What I mean is, what if our lives aren't meant to fit into some kind of cohesive outline?
See, I was talking to my kids (my students) about outlining and its use in research. I hate outlining, and I can't do it. I've tried. It's just not how my brain works. But *reverse* outlining--when you go back over your finished product, pull it apart to see what's cohesive and what's a blatant outlier, well, that has some merit for me.
So. Why, in the name of all that is holy, am I trying to outline my life, day to day, moment by ever-present moment? What makes me think that I can apply some concept that has *never* worked for me in scholarly pursuit to the ever-loving organic nature of my life?
Well. I can't. But (!!), I can reverse outline it. I can do that now, write it down, cut it out (coll...