Sunday, June 17, 2012
Since it is father's day, I figured I should check in with my dad. It seems that when I called him, he was busy obsessing about a mango high atop the tree in his yard. Being the geek that I am, I suggested numerous potential solutions as to how to retrieve said mango which was too high to reach with a fruit picker. I even volunteered RR's kids for the task until I realized they weren't even around and my father started freaking out about the liability of someone climbing a tree on his property. Eventually the mango fell to the earth, before I could suggest a suitable solution.
The mango felt significant enough to warrant metaphorical status so my thoughts drifted throughout my practice this evening. I envisioned the mango as representative of something I want but which I can't have. Perhaps the object of my desire is something beautiful or precious or downright juicy, but regardless it hangs well out of my reach. In this particular case, consider the physical mango as hanging 30 feet above the ground. As I gain awareness of the metaphorical mango, regardless of what it represents, I have this horrible tendency to obsess about attaining it. How great would it be if I could just feast on this juicy mango? Maybe it's a girl or a car or a job or a house or a car or a bike or a level of fitness, whatever it is, it's out of reach and that is when it all starts to get interesting.
When I think about picking a mango I realize there are a number of ways to go about the task. Starting with the dumbest, I could chop down the tree with an ax or a chainsaw, but then the poor tree would be gone and I wouldn't be getting any other fruit from it and the one I want will likely be damaged when it falls to the earth. So that's not a very good plan. Next, I could try climbing the tree, but in this case the branch which holds the fruit will not support my weight, I will either fall to the ground and hurt myself or the mango will fall free as the branch shakes and I won't be present to catch it.
Ah, but now I'm thinking ahead, right? I'm thinking that I need to be underneath the mango in order to capture it safely. And that's when my brain starts doing useful work. One option to consider is a ladder + a fruit picker. Depending on the height, this might be a great solution as ladders are frequently easy to borrow if one does not already exist and a fruit picker is a wise investment for properties with large fruit bearing trees so it would easily be worth the purchase price over time. Another option is a telescoping fruit picker, perhaps combining a telescoping painter's pole with the fruit basket to make one if one cannot be readily purchased. These solutions require foresight and planning but the best part of the approach is that they provide rewards beyond the present, they will be beneficial for the future. The metaphor here can be interpreted as learning new skills, going to school, working through tough life lessons to come out a more capable human, more understanding, better prepared. Perhaps this metaphor consists of learning how to understand people better in order to nurture a relationship, putting in long hours at work to get a promotion, saving over time to buy that new car, or logging the miles necessary to reach that new level of fitness.
All of that is interesting, but to the rational minded dude, it's all very straightforward and when it comes to motivation, I don't tend to have major hangups. In other words, introspection is not really needed to take any of the approaches described above, they are much more like brute force attacks. Now the shift in thinking occurs when I reach acceptance that I should not actually chase the mango, instead I will wait for the mango to come to me. That is a more yogic mindset, one of patience, tolerance, and unity. The mango will fall when it is ready to fall, not before, not after, and I will not decide when the mango leaves the tree, I will let that happen on it's own time. I can prepare a safe landing for the mango, perhaps an air mattress or a large kiddie pool with water to break the fall. Or I can hang out under the tree and wait for it to fall and catch it, thereby connecting the link in the chain of life and rewarding myself with the sweetness of perfectly ripe fruit. These options highlight some of the most interesting lessons I've been learning lately, lessons of peace, calm, and acceptance.
It is very difficult for me to be calm. While I am a very patient person, while I love delayed gratification, I have a hard time with accepting inaction as a solution. But, and this is where the light bulb turns on, I sense some progress here and it excites me.
With my yoga practice, there is no alternative to patience and acceptance. I have the body that I have, it is not terribly flexible today and I won't all of a sudden wake up tomorrow with a completely different body just because I would like that to happen. If I jam my hips open with too much force I will tear up my knees. I know this because I've done it to both L and R sides already. I sometimes get frustrated with how long it has taken me to not be able to do full lotus, but no amount of frustration changes my inability. There is only one path, there is only acceptance, because the alternative is giving up entirely.
I have decided that I would like to continue coaching this fall. Partly because I really loved the experience last year and partly because I feel like my job situation has shifted precisely for that reason and I need to be in tune with it, I need to listen to the shifts that I observe and follow them rather than work against them or attempt to force them to play out in my favor.
I wish I had the same clarity with my intention to serve as a yoga instructor, but I do not. The only part of yoga that I truly understand is that my own practice continues to open up thoughts and continues to teach me how little I truly know about myself, about my fellow humans, about my body, and about how it all seems so interconnected in ways I'm still beginning to understand.
I re-watched Juno today and aside from tearing up a bit at the adorable moments, I was pleasantly amused at how closely the message relates to a conversation I had with 2 friends on Saturday about relationships, butterflies, and rapid heartbeats. I suppose I keep running because I feel that same sense of wonder and worry almost every time I strap my shoes to my feet. I run because I don't know how good or bad the workout might be, I don't have completely control of the outcome. I keep practicing yoga because I frequently dread the anticipation of failure in a lunge or a bind, and I infrequently amaze myself with how far my body has come since I started. Each experience on my mat seems like a new present waiting to be unwrapped and full of wonderful anticipation. And I keep making a fool out of myself with my friendships and relationships because those butterflies, no matter how much they make me want to puke sometimes, are so delicate and simply irresistible.