Working with yoga is often interesting. You stretch and twist and focus, trying to be very conscious and aware of your movements, and then one day in the middle of a twisting pose you see your left foot coming out from behind your right ear. At first that’s a real surprise, a shock. You think, “Well, that can’t be my foot over there”, and then you realize it is your foot, and with that comes a strong sense of accomplishment, and maybe a little smile.
Then you do the same pose in the opposition direction, but twist and stretch as you might, your right foot doesn’t come out from behind your left ear. You know you can’t push it any more, at least not while doing the pose properly, so you realize you have a little imbalance. You accept that you have some work to do, but it’s a good thing, so you push on.
I think life is like that too, or can be like that. If you enjoy the struggle, if it’s a worthy struggle — Castaneda’s “a path with heart” — the effort comes willingly, and with its own rewards.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
“Meditation practice brings our neuroses to the surface rather than hiding them at the bottom of our minds. It enables us to related to our lives as something workable.”
~ Chogyam Trungpa
Here’s another great image from greatcosmichappyass.com.
Thought of the evening: People go through tremendous personal stress (distress!) when the way their life is turning out doesn’t jive with the mental model of who they think they are (i.e., the “little ego”).
As just one example, my father always talked about opening up a hot dog restaurant. “Hot dog joints” were a big thing in northern Illinois, and they still are. He was a social person who ran projects, and I thought that was a great idea for him.
But he had a mental model that he was an engineer, so even after he was laid off from an engineering job he didn’t like, he kept trying to pursue engineering jobs rather than his dream. He never could break through that, “I was trained as an engineer so I’m supposed to be an engineer” mental model. As a result he became angry, and his life didn’t end well as a result.
In my own case, for many years all I wanted was to be a professional baseball player, and it took several injuries and many years before I finally had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, those were lost years in many ways, and all because I couldn’t let go of the old mental model I had of who I thought I was supposed to be. And because I couldn’t let go of the old model, I couldn’t see the new opportunities that were staring me in the face.
But finally I reached a breaking point. Everything literally came to a head and I said, “F*** this. This is not how I want to spend my life.” To this day I remember that moment.
Some time later I would look back and think, “OMG, why did I waste all those years?” But I understand, even when everyone around you can clearly see what needs to happen, when it’s happening to you — when you’re in the middle of it — it’s a big, ugly, emotional mess. Something is trying to crack your cosmic egg, and when anything tries to destroy the little ego you’ve spent all your life building up ... well, it’s insanely stressful. You’ve spent XX years building up this mental model of who you are, and now something is trying to destroy that model. (A model which I should add exists only in your brain.)
All I can say is that in my case I found a new way to live, and indeed, many of the happiest years of my life.
“Encourage the quest for happiness in your children, even if it takes them very far away from you.”
~ I don’t remember the source of this quote, but I like it
“You want to know what your life will look like a year from now? Listen to what you’re saying when you talk to yourself. Your self-talk determines your future.”
~ from the book, Relentless Optimism
“We don’t take any days for granted,” said Pagano, 58, whom the Bears hired in January. “Every day that we get, we try to kick its ass, take full advantage of it. If you get another one, we’re going to do the same thing the next day.”
“‘Live full, die empty’ is the motto now.”
~ from this story on Chuck Pagano