Never? No, Just Not Yet.
Never? No, Just Not Yet.
Awhile back I made a decision to never say never. Let me rephrase that. I consciously decided to eradicate the word ‘never’ from my vocabulary. And this simple act has brought on a pretty profound change in perspective and subsequent action. Because what I have learned is this: the possibilities are always endless, even the ones we can’t even begin to conceive are possible.
When I started doing yoga I was, like most beginners, a little (ok, a lot) overwhelmed by the relative ease with which fellow classmates were able to execute seemingly impossible poses. True, I was fortunate to have enough of a dance background (albeit many years earlier) that gave me a bit of an advantage on the flexibility front, but that hardly seemed an asset when, say, talking about balancing on my hands while in some twisted up posture. I persisted in going to class because I could see tangible benefits right from the start, but at some point early on I became aware of the mantra I had adopted so as to give my ego an out. “I will never be able to do that” became my dismissive missive and made me feel better about my perceived inadequacies. You see, I am highly competitive… not with others, but with myself. So admitting defeat early on seemed easier than the loss I envisioned in this ensuing, self-evoked contest.
Still, despite feeing somewhat discouraged, I continued going to class.
Then one day, after struggling for what seemed like an eternity, some sort of crazy-balance just kind of happened. Nothing but palms on the floor. For like, 5 whole seconds. Crow pose, while today still a difficult pose for all it’s refinements, is often the place where most people taste an arm balance for the first time. And at that magical moment I thought, well dang… I guess saying “I will never be able to do that” was just plain wrong. Still, there were other poses I just knew I would never be able to master. They were just too hard. Too tricky. Too complicated.
But like most progression, we don’t actually see it in progress. It happens in tiny spoonfuls and small epiphanies. Little mechanisms click, enabling bigger mechanisms to click. And slowly, bit by bit, after about 1000 classes, poses I refused to believe I would ever be able to get into started clicking too. And somewhere in that progression I realized that, thanks to Crow Pose, the Little-Engine-That-Could inside my head had started to rephrase things. “I will never be able to do that” was frequently and consciously being replaced by “I can’t do that yet.”
Yet. Those three little letters became a beautiful, powerful gift and ‘never’ was suddenly, deservedly kicked to the curb.
I will admit, that sometimes I still find myself wanting to go down that old path… because no matter how deep you go, further depths always await. This is true in both in the physical realm and that deeper, more esoteric realm of who we really are inside this physical manifestation. Which is actually the inherent beauty of yoga. The gifts, both internal and external, are endless.
The biggest challenge for most of us (and definitely for myself) is to let go of the striving and the need to ‘achieve’ something and to just be ok with the present state of things as they are… meaning, if today you cannot balance in Crow Pose, it’s actually ok. You never know which tomorrow will be the one where things suddenly click. More importantly, you as a human are not any better or worse off for being able to do or not being able to do Crow. It’s imperative to remind ones self that things will come as they are ready. Or more accurately, as WE are ready.
This is not to say goals are bad. We need them in order to move forward with our lives. But learning to re-context that desire is the key. Setting goals while simultaneously reminding yourself that you are in fact, exactly where you are supposed to be… that’s called balance. And it is the same balance as having only your palms on the ground. One day, that understanding just clicks… but only if you are willing to keep going back to the mat, without expectation, over an over again.
So yes, I can now do most of those ridiculous poses I once labeled “impossible” and yet I remain happily aware that I still have so far to go and that there is still much I cannot do.