March 19, 2014

We Can’t Have it All.


What do you think, Peg?

Warning: be cautious when asking me my thoughts because, well, I will tell you, honestly.

I walked into a conversation between two unsuspecting girls during a retreat last week, discussing their dreams and future aspirations. There were so many things each wanted to do and accomplish, and they looked to me with hopeful eyes.

We can have it all, can’t we?!

It was far less a question than a statement for me to validate.

I realize I have become for some people, and perhaps these girls in particular, the poster girl of “possibility” for various reasons, but I suspect, mostly because of my age. I realize my response was not expected: No. You actually cannot have it all. And I’d quit trying. (Or as David Garrigues once wrote: if you want both, you’ll have neither.)

Say it’s not so! Tell us you don’t truly believe that! Look at you! You are living the life of your dreams!

It’s true, I tell them. I am. And I’m quite happy and content. But how I got here was not by believing I could have everything I fancied but rather by accepting that I could not.

You see, it’s this notion that we can do everything and be everything that gets us into trouble.

With no urging sense to choose what’s most meaningful, everything becomes important and therefore nothing ever is. One of life’s great paradoxes is that to impose limits creates a life, limitless. To realize we can’t have it all frees us to have all of what we choose.

For example, I no longer get on a surfboard because at nearly 48 years of age, practicing the advanced series of Ashtanga has proven challenging. My shoulders can’t thank me enough.

I’ve not yet made a trip to Mysore. As the mother of two, there never seemed to be a time where I wouldn’t be needed. So for the past 21 years, I’ve tended to my kids and put their needs first and my desires second. I’ll be 50 on my first trip.

And as much as I love to teach yoga, I cannot devote myself full time. You see, I have a husband who has not made yoga his life. Practicing and teaching part time takes up a good chunk of my life and to devote any more would leave little left over for him—for us.

There are plenty of other sacrifices and compromises I’ve made in my life, but tell me, do you pity me? Do you think to yourself: Poor Peg? Look at all she cannot do. Look at all she’s given up.

Of course not. In fact, a tinge of jealousy would be a more normal reaction.

I do not feel wistful. I have no regrets. The irony of this struggle is that it’s only a challenge for those of us blessed and foolishly indulged enough to think everything was ever ours for the wanting.

My husband always says, give people a choice and they’ll often make one. Good. Because we should. And it’s high time we realized these are the choices gratefully ours to make.

So no, you can’t have it all , and don’t even waste another minute wishing for it. Because our limitless capacity to love, and for us to be fully committed and bring a burning fire of intensity and passion to all we do, depends on our willingness to also make sacrifices.

Besides, all a bucket list does is distract me from life’s endless possibilities that I’m just now discovering.



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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Krzysztof Poltorak/FotoCommunity

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