“When we keep choosing between right and wrong, we spend our energy sorting life rather than living it.” -Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
I have started this newsletter four times and counting, y’all. For some reason, the thoughts in my head this month have been all over the place and I’ve been having a really hard time finding the words to put them on paper in a logical and meaningful way. And so half-way through every attempt, I’ve gotten frustrated, stopped, and decided that the laundry just had to be done in that precise moment. Guess I don’t like it when things are harder than I think they should be.
Well, after sorting through a million potential themes for the month of August, I think I found the one that rings most true to me at this moment: some things are supposed to be hard, and we don’t always have to resist our way out of them. We tend to be uncomfortable in chaos, unable to simply exist amidst the mess without trying to tidy it up, fix it, get out of it as soon as possible. We prefer the linear, symmetrical, and unobstructed paths. We suffer when things are hard because we believe that for things to be right, they should come naturally to us and feel inherently easy. When something is amiss, we ask “what’s wrong“, adding another layer of negativity to something that isn’t as wrong as it is just different or difficult. When shit hits the fan, we get a taste of the very little control we truly have over things, and we immediately start planning our exit strategy.
Of course, these are precisely the moments that lead to growth, wisdom, self-discovery, and eventually, a happier place than we’ve been before. In the struggle we find strength, in the loneliness we find a new relationship with ourselves, in the mess we get a glimpse of something that might have been covered up when everything was nicely tucked away in its place. When we stand in mountain pose and stack all of our bones perfectly on top of each other, we feel powerful and tall and happy. But if we want to work on our balance, we must purposefully get out of that symmetry and let our muscles engage, wobble, and recalibrate. I was recently watching a TED Talk on the characteristics of original thinkers. One of them is embracing procrastination…innovators are fast to start and slow to finish because it’s in that space of in-between that new ways of thinking develop. Every entrepreneur knows that failure is the catalyst for greatness and that it is from facing the low lows that we find the courage and stamina to reach the high highs. As tempting as it is to wish for a struggle-free existence, I’ve come to realize that all the magic is on the other side of the fight, the work, the resistance, and the not so pretty and perfect.
Yoga teaches us to see things as they are, to avoid clouding what’s actually right in front of us with our idea of how things should be. It’s not bad to feel stuck, it just is. Rushing to fix something (aka, returning it to its original condition) robs us of the chance to experience life differently than we have been.
Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Owning a business is hard. Life is, for the most part, hard. These are not meant to be scary and discouraging statements. On the contrary, they are reassurance that you are doing it right. They are an invitation to linger in uncomfortable places, to fully engage with what takes a bit more work and to embrace the imperfect as our greatest teacher.