Take the scenic route…
Whenever asked what is my favorite quote, I immediately whip out my favorite Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken’s ending line: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” These lines highlight a distinct theme that has run through my life, and as I imagine, like many of you taking the time to read this blog. That theme for me is about choices and about seeing your choices, good and bad, as a learning curve and not a point of no return.
Sometimes these choices have been simple in my days, such as what to make for dinner or what I am going to wear that day – okay maybe that last one is not so simple, but you get the idea. Some choices that we make such as these do not require much critical thought. We make them on the fly, never thinking again about the consequences of making chicken versus pasta or wearing pink instead of purple. Decision made, and we continue down the road.
However, some of the choices in my life and in all our lives have been vastly more complex and required significant critical thought. Maybe these choices kept us up for nights mired in indecision. Maybe these choices were made in moments of weakness and have left us reaping the consequences. Maybe at times we have felt that we really had no choices at all. Nevertheless, choices we have made. The choice to go off to Europe instead of college, the choice to favor relationships over self-discovery, or the choice to do what feels good in the moment versus what is necessary to sustain us over the long haul. Some of us may have been plagued with an apparent self-destructive streak and may feel that we have squandered opportunities in the past because of poor choices. Put enough wrong turns together, and suddenly the road less traveled becomes less glamorous. Some can begin to feel defeated and stop believing in their abilities to make a good life. Some stop trying.
Something different happened for me over the years of showing up to practice on my mat again and again. I stopped believing that the past dictates the future and I started to become empowered by my experiences and my ability to survive whatever came my way. There was something about being in my later forties and standing on my hands that started to change my mindset of what was possible. Despite all of the adversity success was still possible! I have learned that things get good, they get bad, and they get good….repeat, repeat, repeat. Because I have been injured, I have recovered. I have fallen and I have gotten up. I stopped taking life’s trials so personally. Stopped getting attached to all these moments of life and just started enjoying them for what they are instead of being so wrapped up in the comparisons in my own head. Because I have had poses and I have lost them. Getting on that mat became my practice for life.
Here is what I know: There is no ultimate test in life. There will not be some ultimate moment of joy or sadness. It is all your life to be enjoyed. Every moment is the ultimate. Each experience only puts us at another bend in the road. Another opportunity to make yet another choice. And just because you made a less than stellar choice before does not mean you cannot learn from that experience and choose differently the next time. And maybe that takes you a couple times. It’s cool. Who is anyone else to judge you?
We are all working and wanting towards the same things. We want happiness. We want to be valued. We want to be contribute. We want to be forgiven. We want compassion. Yoga in and of itself is not going to get you there. It is not an automatic that practicing yoga makes you the best decision-maker, a nice human, or more enlightened then the rest of your fellow Earthlings. My hope for myself is that I am taking all these lessons I learn on the mat – don’t get attached to the poses, don’t go too far, get comfortable being uncomfortable, breathe through the tough stuff – and I am taking them into my everyday life – where I spend the other 15 waking hours or so of my day.
What I believe comes with awareness of all of this is responsibility. Armed with the tools to create an extraordinary life, we are now charged with the duty to make a difference not only on our road, but also to those who may be trying to follow. That’s yoga.