I have a confession to make. It is very rare that I do something without being either pushed or goaded into it. It might not really something that a yoga teacher wannabe should admit to (and really you won’t hear a lot of teacher type people admitting to things like this), but it is the truth. Almost everything that I have ever done in life has been the result of something or someone either pushing or blackmailing me into it. Left to my own devices, I would sit comfortably where I was, not really moving, just going safely on my mediocre way. Recently however, someone called me a commitment phobe, and that is exactly what I am. If I could have my way, I would write everything down in pencil so that I could erase it in the future. I do however, make a semi-commitment in that I do write something down. Somewhat like a long term relationship, but then jumping ship just when it’s time to put it in black and white.
Some people think I’m driven, that I would move to a different country, not be satisfied with a Bachelor’s Degree, leave an engagement and now go on to a yoga teacher training. I say, only about 10% of it was out of my own choice. Life made the other 90% of the decision and decided that I wouldn’t be able to just slug my way around, comfortable in one mindset, one lover, one house, one country even. Life decided to make a mark on me, in pen, nonetheless!
This year, Michael Ross, my beloved friend and teacher sent me a card with the words;
Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
He pushed them…
And they flew.
Story of my existence. That has been the dialogue that I have had with life for as long as I can remember. Honestly, I would stay far away from the edge, safe and comfortable, but a breeze, a word, curiosity even, always gets the better of me and I take one step. Then that one step turns into another, then another, and before I know it, I have stepped off the edge without really knowing how to fly, but having to anyway, just so that I don’t fall flat.
My yoga practice is the exact same story. I went to one class, but signed up for a fortnight, so my name was signed, in pen. That was my first step of walking towards the edge. After a fortnight, it was a month, then another month, getting closer and closer to the edge, then a permanent monthly membership, and before I knew what was going on, I had not only signed my name in pen, but also in blood, sweat and tears as I embark on a Teacher Training. Over the weekend, while in a handstand (against a wall of course), pushing my body further than I’d pushed it in about 10 years, I came to the realization that I had, in fact, stepped over the edge. Handstands are a bit like that. They force you to gain a different perspective, and make you see that you really are strong enough to carry your own weight. And here I am again, flailing (instead of flying), between one place and another.
Life is just like that. You think you can play it safe and just stay there, then these voices, guides, teachers, whatever you wish to call them, move you. They just do. They grab you, and throw you out of your comfortable space. In my case, when it was someone who ruthlessly pushed me towards the edge (papa, mum, exes), it was the push off the edge that gave me no choice but to fly. But on the way, life has handed me from one loving pair of hands to another. At this juncture, I went in looking for an instructor, but life gave me teachers instead. The choice life gives us is to either go with it, or to resist it.
So yeah, some days it does feel like you’re being flung off the edge of the cliff, often with a broken heart to go with it. But you know what? A happy story is not really worth writing about, and a life without a broken heart is like plain porridge. And I’ve found, the best teachers are the ones who have suffered themselves, be it a broken heart (or five), an addiction (or five), a broken bone, or a broken life. The great stories give them an added dimension both as human beings, and as teachers. Even though they don’t share their stories, they are the ones whose arms you want to be flung into when you’re thrown off the edge of the cliff. As for your story, you could travel the world and it would mean nothing if you don’t step off the edge of your own heart. And at the end of the day do you want your tombstone to say, “she had porridge, every day,” or do you want it to say, “her life was a mixture of different colours and flavours. She had the sweet, the bitter, occasionally burned her tongue on the hot, and cried when things got too spicy, but she did take a big bite out of life?”