(this post is a follow up to my previous post “Where have my genius skills gone?”
Thanks to all of you who emailed to ask how I was doing.)
I made an amazing discovery this week:
There are many many steps and adjustments between failing and mastery.
It happened during hot yoga of course (my current incubator for spiritual and physical development).
I was doing my usual.
Trying not to fall.
Staring hard at my water bottle.
Not very zen.
As I stumbled, I looked at my yoga teacher for inspiration,
Expecting to see her in perfect tree pose, a model of harmony.
Instead, she was wobbling.
Hopping around on one foot actually.
Intent on returning to her pose.
I looked around.
Many of the students were not perfectly still.
They were continuously making adjustments in order to maintain or improve their pose.
They weren’t giving up the minute they lost their balance.
Fascinated and excited, I decided to play a bit.
I found my pose, which I usually do for a few seconds.
Then, when I started to lose my balance, I decided to do everything I could to not put my foot down.
I contracted my core and supporting leg.
Stayed with the wobble.
That worked for a bit.
Next I tried tiny hops around the mat until I found stillness.
Put my arms out to my sides if necessary.
Eagle pose was next.
I squeezed all my limbs even more tightly into each other when I started to wobble.
Different wobbles for different poses.
Would you believe, almost every time, every balancing pose, I succeeded in regaining my balance.
I never believed it was possible.
So I never tried.
Most people I’ve told about this laugh at me.
“Of course you struggle and experiment and try different things.
If you really want it.”
I never knew.
For me, if I want it, I try it.
If I don’t get it very quickly, I simply move on to wanting something else.
I’ve been fairly good at getting some things I want
But the one thing I never got good at is wobbling (unless you count my thighs!).
I never developed resilience.
Never experienced the huge thrill of mastering something that was not naturally easy for me.
My childhood was littered with castoffs from activities tried and dropped after a few weeks – tennis rackets, ballet shoes, geometry sets.
In adulthood, if a job became challenging or boring, I just switched jobs, careers, without a second thought.
It never occurred to me to stay, and wobble a bit, and find a new level of mastery.
I always felt a bit of pity for people who struggled with things.
Now I admire them.
I’ve become fascinated with them.
I follow them around, quiz them on what they’re thinking, ask why they don’t just give up.
These people – it doesn’t occur to them to quit.
Because they don’t expect automatic mastery.
For now, I’m playing with this on the mat.
My balance poses in this new environment are improving.
They’re not pretty, not always still and strong.
But I’m not giving up on them.
And I’m way closer to success now than when I simply put my foot down at the first wobble and gave up until next class.
And I’ve put out an energetic call for off-mat wobbling opportunities.
Tonight my daughters invited me to play Dance Dance Revolution with them.
I am the world’s worst dancer.
But you know what, I fumbled through it, had so much fun, got a few Cs among my Fs,
and hopefully taught them something I never knew until recently:
Staying with hard can feel very empowering.