Rain slapping the metal roof woke me up this morning.
I had a yoga class to teach at 9:00 and only a bike to get there (and like a foot of mud to ride through).
I couldn’t find my boots so I settled for flip-flops and slid my overalls over my yoga clothes.
I don’t think I even pedaled a full rotation before my bike’s tires were so caked with mud that we (my bike, “Brisita,” and I) slipped sideways, and then flopped over, surrendering for a moment to Ecuador’s rainy season, and the mud baths that often accompany it.
At this rate, I knew I’d never make it to class.
So I kicked my slippery flip-flops off and gripped the mud with my determined toes willing my bike forward.
She bucked, and then started sliding again. I had no choice but to drag her. And though it was a bit perplexing, to be dragging the thing that is supposed to be carrying you, I knew once I met the pavement I’d be happy I didn’t leave her behind.
I’d need to make up for lost time.
The water was still coming down strong. My teal fleece was dark with rain, and my feet were two little mud cakes. I can’t even describe my hair. Another sheet of doubt covered me.
And then, two boys, mud-walking with a grace that said, “local,” sauntered over. And before I knew it they were literally carrying my bike down the road. I slipped and slid (and slopped and flopped) after them feeling like a completely undeserving weirdo.
They carried my bike for several minutes. When we reached a patch of road that was more solid, they set my bike down and watched me carefully (as in, full of care) as I attempted to take off. My shoeless foot slipped off the pedal during my first attempt, and one of the boys steadied me. But on the second attempt, I was off.
I yelled a million thanks.
And I rode. I rode as fast as I could and ended up being 3 whole minutes early.
I peeled off my overalls. Took my place at the front of the studio and waited. And waited. And…really? No one? I mean, it’s not unusual to have a scant class when it’s pouring rain and almost none of your students have cars. But I guess I somehow thought I’d at least find purpose in persevering.
Hmm. Once again. Perplexed.
I’d already waited 15 minutes. I could have just left.
But I didn’t. I hesitated before I walked downstairs and asked if anyone in the room planned to take my class. A single girl raised her hand. I didn’t even bother asking her why she was just sitting there when class technically started 15 minutes ago.
She’s here. I’m here. Let’s do this. And so we did.
And it was so worth it. It turned out that this class was one of the first yoga classes she’d ever taken. And by the end of class she was nearly in happy, I-feel-so-good tears.
And just like a cloud that suddenly breaks open and pours down, I instantly understood something about life.
Things often happen that make us think, “Seriously, am I ever going to get there?” “Should I give up?” “Where will I end up?” The truth is…we don’t freaking know. And, get this, there is no way to know. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
That’s why, here’s the deal, we must make every part of the journey so incredibly intentional.
We’ve got to know exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing.
I knew exactly why I was belly-flopping around in the mud. And it wasn’t because I had a class to teach. Or an obligation to a studio. Or a schedule to follow. Or a paycheck to cash. (Though those are all worthy reasons.)
It’s because I’d made up my mind about what sharing yoga (the breathing, meditation and movement) meant to me. It means a whole lot. I know a lot about my desires. And how I want to feel. And teaching yoga is in almost perfect alignment with these things. That’s why I do it. And that’s why I skate mud to do it.
I’ve had moments in life when I’ve asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” And literally the only true answer I could come up with was, “because I have to.”
When I was in that place in life, every obstacle felt like an evil glaring mountain and even the helpful assistance I received on my path seemed more like lucky breaks than divine intervention helping me fulfill a higher purpose.
But when you get really, truly clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing—whether it’s eating or moving or working—whatever you’re doing takes on an incredible new level of depth. Obstacles become necessary learning experiences, while unexpected help shows you the divine spark inherent in each of us, a symbol of support for the greater good.
Since I’ve begun living my life with a deeper sense of intention, my will is also stronger than ever. I’ve cultivated a profound sense of trust in my own dedication because I’m clear about my intention.
I trust myself and my perseverance.
I might sometimes question whether I’ll actually make it, but I never question whether I’ll have the will to go on. Because I know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
When you’re clear about your intention, anything that you face will not only be worth it, it will often be it’s own reward, no matter how challenging.
And while you’re dragging the thing you thought you’d be riding, you’ll find perseverance and support in the depth and clarity of your intention.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Peter Burgess/Flickr