Do you ever tell yourself to “just relax” and then continue to do the very opposite? Or tell yourself to “forget it”. Or “frick’n focus!” And then find it impossible? Well that what happened to me today. Then it reversed itself in a way I didn’t expect.
It started with a 75-minute hot yoga class at Y Yoga, my health retreat since arriving in Vancouver. Today was different: a hundred and one thoughts frolicked through my mind — which means today I was not doing yoga. I was stretching, and sweating, but my mind wasn’t connected to my practice which, by definition, isn’t yoga.
Before class I’d been Skyping with my bestie in Sydney, talking through different share-house options for when I return. Taking the tone of a confused dream, thoughts on locations, bedroom/bathroom trade-offs, potential housemates, rental rates, hours I’d have to work for respective wages in different jobs, comparisons to cheap-living Central America; thoughts on research, jobs, boys, publishers…
Thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts.
“Think about your breath,” I told myself.
I did—for one breath.
Then the thoughts returned. I gave up. What was supposed to be a “T” shape created by balancing on one foot with both arms in front and the other leg up behind, looked like a wobbly “M”.
As I strolled home, weaving between glass skyscrapers, skipping through puddles, ducking under umbrellas, and gazing out at the boats, water and mountains, I realised something: It doesn’t matter.
None of the scenarios I entertain in my head are bad. Whether we find an apartment with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, or a house of 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, it’ll be fine. Whether I’m in Glebe or back in Paddington, or Bondi, or in Central America, or somewhere else for a while and then somewhere else again, everything will turn out right. The research, the jobs, boys, publishers… It’s easy to stress about things one has to or wants to do, find, buy, sell… there’s always more boxes to tick. But none of it matters right now.
I am not saying it’s not important. It is. Everything is important. But pondering the different scenarios is not. Life seems to unveil itself in its own time. Answers become clear in their own moments. I don’t need to be thinking about all these things in this moment. There are far more rich ways to be spending this moment. Like by actually doing yoga. Or by paying attention to the beautiful city I’m in.
That thought was followed by a small epiphany: What’s the rush?
I’ve spent the last five years living like I’m running a race. Every moment of every day has been put to use. There’s been a sense of urgency penetrating it. My motto has been “life is short, don’t waste it.”
Not “wasting life” for me meant seeking answers to some questions that were burning inside, and learning to communicate the answers I uncovered for myself. I started unable to put my questions into words. I followed a long line of intuitions, and in a way at the end of 2011 with a book finished and an article that came from my masters thesis published, that particular fire was under control. I have new questions, but they are less urgent. I have to finish putting out those little bits left of the old fires, but it’s much easier now. I feel a new energy. A new beginning. A new motto.
True, I don’t want to “waste my short life”, but there’s no point rushing through it either! Now I need, more than ever, to take a big breath in and slowly let it out. What’s the rush?
Alan Watts talks about how we tend to “run from the maternity ward to the crematorium”. Watts tells a bigger story that we’re a part of, that allows us to relax about our individual lives. There’s no rush.
And so, a new New Years Resolution: Do less, but do it better. Give each moment its deserved attention. Don’t stress over decisions — let the right answer reveal itself. Breathe in faith, breathe out fear.
I’m not in a hurry for ANYTHING. I keep changing my mind, so why worry about any of it. I don’t need to know what the future holds. I really don’t. All I need to know is the present. That’s when I realised something: I had relaxed 🙂
Happy new year!