For those times when we’re busy dying.
In the middle of yoga teacher training today, something that’s supposed to “awaken our soul,” I almost fell asleep. I was laying on the mat with my head to one side, my binder next to me, and a little bit of drool about to come out of my open mouth when Colleen, the teacher trainer, kindly asked, “Lizzie, are you awake?”
Recently, I’ve gotten everything I’ve asked for. I have a job I don’t hate, I have an internship I love, I’m in yoga teacher training that I’m really invested in, and I’m starting to (finally) date the cute barista at Starbucks who (also) loves John Mayer. I’m proving that I can make my own path and accomplish my goals simply by working hard with good intent—without “following” the conventional route.
I’d like to say that I’ve never been happier, but really, I’ve never felt more stuck. My waking life has been one of semi-successful mediocrity caused by the fear of failure. I’m afraid of changing, of growing, of losing myself in anything or anyone because I am where I am and it looks good and I don’t want to screw it up.
Why does the image matter? Isn’t that defeating the whole purpose?
After a few months of falling down painfully, bleeding, closed doors, and being told that “I can’t,” I’ve gotten myself to a position that I am proud of. A position where even they, the people who told me I had to be like them to be happy, who told me I couldn’t do it my way, are leaving me alone. But now, I find that I am so afraid of making mistakes that I made before that I am shutting myself down to the world and not looking anywhere but where I think it’s safe to look.
I don’t want to prove them right—but why do I even care what they think?
I know why I care; because I have to put myself in a position where other people will want listen to the words I have to say. But what if my words are no longer my own? I am scared I am compromising too much, too far.
I’m following all of the rules.
I’m afraid of failing, again, so I’ve walled myself up in a world that is not my own. I’m trying too hard, hiding my own soul too much. I’m drowning out my own voice, and by doing this, I’ve begun to suffocate and fall into a deep deep sleep. This should be a time of growth, but instead of a blossoming flower I feel like I am in the midst of a thick and heavy swamp.
I’m starting to miss the hours I spent with nothing else to do but write and look into the depths of the endless mirror of myself and the universe.
I want to let go of obligation. Instead I tell myself: focus, focus, focus. Don’t play, don’t wander, don’t look around. Focus, focus, focus.
I am overwhelmed by tunnel vision. I don’t want to be responsible anymore. I want to run away to a forest where magic exists and I can be the forest fairy that I knew from childhood I was meant to be.
I want to spread joy.
I used to feel endless pain in my body; but now all I feel is stagnation and a dull ache. I hear a voice at night in my head that asks me why I am shutting down but I fall asleep and lie to myself and say that it’s okay—that I only have tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. That one day I will be free to create, but the meantime, this is just a meantime thing. Right?
Do my dharma and have good karma, after all, I asked for this. I just have to get through the next weeks of hell, I just have to survive.
But I want to do more than survive. That’s why I’ve chosen to live my way.
My hell is my own. By falling asleep I am choosing the easy way out. And I’ve started to choose this because I’m afraid of being hurt; of being rejected; of being different. The stakes are higher and I am afraid of being me. This is killing me, and it’s my own fault. It’s easier to choose exhaustion than it is to choose resistance.
This is silly.
This spring, I choose to awaken, I choose awareness and wakefulness and light and truth, afterall:
He who is not busy being born is busy dying.
And so, with the beginning of March, and spring in my sights (if not in my step), I put my intention to this song, and a quote from Bob Dylan:
He who is not busy being born, is busy dying.
Are you awake?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Lizzie Kramer / Editor: Catherine Monkman