When I Am 70, I Will Kill It
It’s 5:30am on a weekend morning. I woke up inspired to write and now I’m sitting on my favorite chair with two kitties perched on the window next to me watching the early morning rabbits eating my neighbors flowers.
The house is quiet, the sun is rising slowly. The only sounds are the percolating coffee machine and the birds. Alas, spring is here.
Life is full of so much beauty, pleasure, inspiration.
Yet it seems like often we are determined to make our lives hard. Difficult. Punishing.
I’ve been thinking about a student of mine. She approached me after class this week to ask a very insightful question about a particular pose that we practiced. I taught her what I knew about the “proper” form and function of the pose. She hungrily took in all the information. We practiced the pose, and tired ourselves out trying different methods. At the end of the tutorial, she stood up and said “I can’t believe I have been doing that wrong this whole time.”
I laughed and told her that I have been doing things “wrong” in yoga for over 30 years and that’s the best part. You are always learning. You never know it all. There is no destination, only practice. It wasn’t that she was doing it wrong, it was that she just learned how to make it easier on her body .
For a good few minutes, she continued to lash out at herself at her failure of doing the pose “right.” Statements like “how could I have been so wrong? Why was I not able to pick this up on my own? I am not good at this yoga thing. I’m not strong enough for that. I am so out of shape. I can’t believe I let myself go over the winter months. I drank too many margaritas when I was on vacation.“
Oh, sister, I get it.
I get the punishing feeling. The disappointment in not feeling good enough. I get the criticism. I get the judgement. I get the disappointment of feeling like you’re not doing something “right.”
This woman. Beautiful and unique, strong and clearly a warrior. She killed a rather challenging yoga class. She showed up and moved her body and felt her breath and glowed as she moved through the postures and transitions. She showed up.
Then she beat herself up for not doing it “right.”
Oh my loves, why do we do this?
Why do we believe that the things we do for ourselves have to be punishing?
Why do we believe that we have to know everything already? That we are unable to learn, fail, even flail at things we are learning?
It’s all a story we tell ourselves. The Perfection Myth. Somewhere along the line we learned that we were already supposed to know everything. We are not allowed to make mistakes or try different approaches. We aren’t supposed to be vulnerable and needy and curious. We hold ourselves to a ridiculous and insane standard that no one can ever achieve.
I want to live in a world where we step out of our own judgement, our own limitations and try new things.
I want to live in a world where we fail spectacularly, fall down, get dirty and then rise again stronger and more in love with ourselves.
I’m learning that this is a choice that we each can make. We can each decide that we are going to approach our lives like adventurers. We can let go of the need to get things perfect and enjoy ourselves, our bodies, our life challenges. We can show up for ourselves. We can be kind and gentle and loving towards our own selves.
We can learn to “practice” life.
My beautiful, courageous student is 70-years-old.
When I looked at her my main thought was this: dear sweet universe, may I live to be 70-years-old and as badass as this woman. Let me have the courage to take a yoga class with people who are 50 years younger than me and wearing much tighter (and fewer) clothes. Let me have the courage to ask the teacher for guidance, and to figure out how to make my practice feel better in my body.
Let me celebrate my adventures.
Let me speak kindly of myself and be gentle when I try new things.
Let me laugh at my failures and cry when I do things that surpass my wildest imagination.
Can we to ourselves like we would talk to our best friend? (Oh honey, you are doing so great. You are just killing it! I am so proud of you!)
When you step out and live your life and feel the courage rushing through your veins, take a moment and recognize the amazing badass rockstar you are.
And then believe it.
(Photo: Credit to Robert Sturman, the best photographer in the world who someday will take my picture if the sun shines on me. Goddess is Tao Porchon-Lynch, who you can read more about here. She is my inspiration.)