Thursday, November 17, 2011
In my adolescence, 'enough' eluded me too.
Grown-up me still feels around in the dark for it.
I remember in grade school thinking about good enough in terms of my work. I concluded that 100% on an assignment was good enough, until I saw that a few other kids sometimes got that too. I kept pushing outward, trying to locate my edges. Where should I stop? What would be good enough? I ended up here: Better than everyone else. Yep, I decided that my school work wasn't good enough until it was better than everyone else's. That's how I knew I could stop. That's how I knew I had done enough. I have held myself to this standard in every aspect of my life ever since. I turn out a lot of great work, but it is fucking exhausting sometimes.
Today I ducked out of work on time because I decided that if I was going to work 7 long days a week for the next 8 weeks, I absolutely had to have one thing that was mine and only for me. That would be yoga. I am not right without regular yoga practice. I get all out of balance. I let go of my center and run off on a futile search for edges that don't seem to exist.
Tonight I had a teacher I'd never worked with before. She was young, bright and pretty; and fairly new to teaching--not the seasoned teacher I am used to studying with. I had gone in wanting to dig deep, to unearth, to expel. I wanted to lighten my load by jettisoning things which weren't serving me. She wanted to play. I had just left an environment that was as far from playful as could be--I still had my game face on.
I tried really hard to play with her. She was so sweet and so beautiful and so passionate, I wanted to indulge her. But I couldn't. The best I could muster up for the 90 minutes was mindfulness and non-judgmental self-awareness. In retrospect, I will say that this was in fact, good enough.
Anyway, through the whole practice, I got after myself for not being able to let go of my day and just play. By the end, I had negotiated a truce with myself and had worked pretty far toward accepting the fact that sometimes I can't turn off 'Serious Carla' mode, and that needs to be okay.
At the end of practice, as I lay in Savasana, covered in blankets, our teacher began chanting a prayer in Sanskrit. Her voice was absolutely beautiful. Possibly the most beautiful voice I've heard live, in my presence. 'Enough' crept up and tapped me on the shoulder. I have been sick and haven't been singing. My voice is weak and breathy now. I started comparing it to hers. Even if I had been healthy, her voice would still be more beautiful. I wasn't the best, so I wasn't enough. Again.
"You don't need to be the best anything right now, you only need to be. And you should let yourself enjoy the gorgeous sounds you're hearing now too, while you're at it." That's what I said to myself just then. I surprised even me. What a relief to be let off the hook for a moment--by my most exacting customer, no less. I had lightened my load not by actively purging something, but by passively allowing something.
I'm not naive enough to think that in 90 minutes I've conquered my need to exceed every standard that measures me, but it sure was nice to take a little vacation from over-achieving. It was nice to visit 'enough' for a while too. Namaste.