I read a recent post on Facebook by a local politician stating that someone had called and threatened his children if he didn't act on what the person wanted. This idea of my way is the only right and just way is interesting. Consider a recent earthquake that took the life of so many in Turkey and Syria. I am fairly sure this is not the way many wanted this month to go. And yet I can relate to this very arrogance of expecting things to go my way.
Yesterday, Valentine's Day, I not just once felt my victimhood at being a divorcee. I silently resented those with someone to post about on Facebook or instagram. I loved once. And that person stopped loving me. Definitely an example of something that did not go my way.
However, as I looked into the memories of that ending, something occurred to me. Man, I held tightly to holding that love together. I did things that were truly harmful to myself in my attempts to save the marriage. I was gripping so tightly to a marriage that really did not exist and in my efforts, I was not respecting myself the same way that someone would when threatening someone else's children.
Thanks to the Work of Byron Katie and a lot of Yoga study, I eventually found my way back to myself. Or did I? Upon further reflection, I recognized this same over gripping to my son, despite my promise not to do that to him. Oh, I made sacrifices, letting him go to boarding school at the tender age of 13 years, and allowing all the vacations and time with his dad. But when my son turned 18 years and I realized he was his own person, legally allowed to make decisions for himself, including the decision to visit or not, I went back into a similar despair, focusing on what the right move is to keep him choosing me. I studied more Yoga, I threw my life into chaos, I returned to gripping tightly to my history as a climber and a coach. I suffered.
Then my dad died, aunts passed away, menopause arrived, and we all went into lockdown with Covid. The universe was delivering an excellent opportunity for me to reflect on what I was gripping. I did not consider that though. I gripped tighter, fighting my grief with productivity. I cleared the yard of trees that may block the view, I painted the house exterior, I redid decks, I gardened, I replaced flooring, I painted inside. I replaced windows, I sanded countertops and treated them. I redecorated... and on and on. All of this movement was an effort to thumb my nose at the prospect of aging and the grief of not seeing my son for a year was drowned in wine.
Perhaps there is no God, or universe pulling the strings. Perhaps there is only us here doing the best we can. But I do know this... when I stop gripping so tightly to MY WAY, I feel more relaxed and calm. I struggle less. I have more energy for the next move, in the same way when I am climbing and I stop trying to do it the way everyone else does and just go with what the rock seems to want from me, I experience more flow, more joy and often more growth.
Now well into the second month of the year and past the point where many have left their New Year's resolutions behind, it seems to me an excellent time to ask, "What was the goal with that New Year's resolution?" I will bet the answer is, "to feel better about myself." I too had a New Years resolution to eat less snacky foods. I am successful some of the time, but my why, was also to feel better about myself. I had a carefully crafted critique of my enjoyment of a some chips, to the point of shaming and the chips and Netflix becoming a mode of escape from that b$tch in my head who just natters about how weak I am. Combine that shaming with the commentary on how old and I am and how I will never get back to my peak shape and that pretty much sums up the years of isolation.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I got this storyline about my need to be better than the version of myself I was from my parents, from society. You are supposed to get A's. You are supposed to do what you are told, when you are told. You are supposed to wash the dishes perfectly and not drop the stack on the floor. (Whoops!) You are supposed to be kind. You are supposed to be polite. You are supposed to temper your energy. More importantly, you are not supposed to be wildly creative and build bunkbeds. I got no points for my ingenuity on that one. You are not supposed to be curious and try climbing the cliffs while your parents dig clams.
It is no different now. Scroll your feed and see the ads about how Yoga will make you young again and the model is clearly in her twenties. Look at the images of the stars and how gorgeous they look when they have had hours to prepare, haven't had to step into a grocery store in the last twenty years, and scads of money for regular facials, massage and physio. I don't know about you, but that is not my story. I would rather be sweaty and dirty from a day outside. So why would I spend so much time with the story of not enough, chasing the perfect body, a face without lines and hair without grey?
But again, the idea of beauty is just another storyline which could give a solid argument to a choice. Or not.
The main point... in this moment... just this moment, I can make a choice. That is where my power is.
I can choose to put on my sneakers and get outside, or not. I can pay attention to the storyline about how cold it is, and futile since I am still aging. Or I can just go. I can pay attention to the shaming from my critical self about how weak I am being using my chest cough and cold temps as an excuse. Or I can just go, or not go.
Here's the punchline...
What we all seek in this goal setting and pursuit is to finally be happy with who we are, the body we are in and grade we climb. This list can go on and include the job we have, the house we live in, the sleep we get, etc. This happy with who we are and where we are is called contentment. Contentment is one of the niyamas in the eight limb path of Yoga. Contentment is not focused on what we have yet to achieve. Contentment is appreciation and gratitude where we are. It doesn't mean you cannot aspire to something, that is possible. That is called being inspired. Contentment means I appreciate where I am, who I am, AND I will make choices from a place of inspiration, not from expectation or despair.
On that note, I am inspired to get my dog out and off leash today, and perhaps to skate at the Oval, What do you appreciate about you, your world today? What inspires you? May you have inspired decisions as you move through February.
Writing, journalling, podcasting... it's all about sharing the journey.