“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” From Dr Seuss – from Horton Hatches and Egg. Funny how these childhood stories can come back to us later in life and have a different and sometimes deeper meaning.
In this Dr Seuss story Horton has promised to watch an egg and even with the worst weather, conditions, being teased and humiliated, he stays on the egg. All because he made the promise and reminded himself that he was a person of his word.
Sounds so easy but how often do we slip away from our promise and dedication? Takes a lot to stay with a goal and often on the worst days stay with it. No it isn’t easy, many will criticize, but that is the day you put your feet on the floor and one foot in-front of another.
I see this a lot in the corporate world. I put myself thru years of night school while I worked to pay for my education. Then I sat and completed my CPA. I do hear from many who were surprised I “made it” – as many would give up on a long term goal. You can’t think about that though; instead you make short term plans to get there. I’m not saying don’t change your expectations or directions – just don’t do that out of fear. Don’t stop just because it wasn’t fast, easy or simple.
We have to practice and develop compassion to our responses as well. When I teach prenatal women I love their stories. Their body is changing yet in their mind they are a different person. Externally the rest of the world see’s them differently. Hard for them not to feel a little invaded when some stranger reaches out to pat their belly. Furthermore society has dictated how they should look, feel and even deliver.
We judge, comment and criticize so fast. Even in my office I often wish the “reply to all” button was followed by an “Are you sure?” button. Often we all are caught up in mass replies and wish the madness would stop. However we defend it by announcing that we are just ‘keeping it real”. We may not stop and think about others at all; what will that person think when I respond with these words?
Many put their social media images out there and the argument is that if you put yourself on-line, that you should be open for the harmful comments. You ever try to put a song-list out or recipe out and have comments from that? All you wanted to do was share but someone is ready to judge. How about expressing facts about a new law? I did this simply stating the 2014 penalties and got quick comments about how the “Right” or “Big Corporations” were to blame. I wasn’t blaming or stereotyping – just stating it as I know those who need to save for it. Agree or not with the individual/topic but “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Your response doesn’t have to harm back to make a point. Sometimes we will even reply back with a smily face or say we were joking. However if you have to say that, then the joke isn’t funny; just consider.
The flip part of Horton’s story is that consideration for changes along the way weren’t an option; asking for help for example. There is a time to do things but we should always re-examine. I can see it in those who decide to jog again to get into shape. They jogged when they were teens so they return to what they know. Yet watching their expressions they look miserable. Would it be so bad to walk instead? Maybe swim? I know of those now in their late 30’s who are having joint surgeries because of the wear and tear. They aren’t listening to their bodies and instead stick with this image in their mind. They will get shots to numb the pain, have replacements and resume the same activity.
This ultimately faces the Western Dilemma of if it isn’t working, do more, go harder and “just do it”. I encourage those I teach that there is a time to go further and time to pull back. There is a time do more and time to do less. Workday going badly? That isn’t the day to stay late and push more. That is the day to go home, rest and start over tomorrow. On the better day do more. How do you know which is which? Start with where your breath is at;breath will tell you and always be honest with you. It is hard to change this mindset and see that by un-doing it will take you further.
A.G. Mohan has said “it is much harder to correct wrong knowledge than to teach new ideas”. This is why I find it fun to teach those just starting out in yoga – beginners as they like to be called. They come in all forms and age. They are open to considering suggestions on yoga, therefore I find there is less to correct. I have one beginner student, Jessica, who I just love watching week after week. I will have her try something even for the first time and if she succeeds or fails she laughs. I love that! She came with no experience in yoga, such a worried look of failing, and now is learning that it isn’t about perfection.
Last weekend I had a few amazing moments around the yoga spaces. I was there for some going thru some tragic items in their life; divorce, injuries and even rape. They chose to share and for that I will keep it confidential. However they go quickly thru the emotions of fear, anger, disappointment and embarrassment. I’m glad I was there to get each of them to stop and breathe. Stop worrying about bothering others. Point was to let them feel it and not push it away.
When we hold and try to make it fit we often look like the stepsisters in Cinderella who keep trying to make the shoe fit. We want it to fit, we have an image of a life would be like if it did fit, and we’ll step on each other to get there if need be. Stop instead and practice the art-form of wishing the one who the shoe belongs too best wishes, love and compassion. This may not have been your shoe to wear but the one for you is just as rewarding.
For those of you that know me well know that for over 12 years I have had this speach in a frame at my desk:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt