Okay, I confess. I admit it fully.
Sometimes I really suck at keeping my eyes on my own mat.
And I’m not talking about the Manduka Pros or those cool, chunky brightly colored ones that, despite their cushy glory would probably having me slipping and sliding at the first hint of palm sweat.
Nope. We’re talking about me coveting my neighbor’s standing split whilst my own leg dangles hopelessly at a ninety-degree angle.
And actually, we’re not even talking about that.
Metaphorically speaking, I’ve been sneaking peeks all around at everyone else’s practice. It’s easy to do when you start to feel insecure about where your life has taken you (or where you’ve taken it) and about where it’s headed.
You know the feeling; you’re hanging out in downward dog, feeling pretty good, working into those tight hamstrings, stretching out your spine… then BAM! You catch a glimpse of the yogi behind you, who is married, makes three times what you do, has a retirement plan and a baby on the way. And from there you can’t stop looking. That one over there is the same age as you, runs her own business and damn she has great hair! And, on the mat beside you? Freshly graduated with a design internship under her belt, just landed the creative director job you think you might have always wanted but will never know because you wussed out in college and got what you thought was a sensible journalism degree.
At this point, your own dog has been abandoned. Never mind that a moment ago you were basking in it, that coiling yourself into your very own juicy little upsidedown “V” was pure bliss. Now it’s completely inadequate, a disappointment, maybe even a little embarrassing.
How quickly things fall apart when we lose focus on our own journey. How easily we can fall into a bottomless pit of despair when we take our lives out of their own context.
But when we reign our vision back in and examine our lives relative only to our lives, it’s amazing what happens. Suddenly the amount of effort it takes to be deeply satisfied is infinitesimal. Waking up next to the man your going to spend the rest of your life with in a cozy bed with the sun pouring in through your window and two lazy cats sprawled across your legs? Sheer joy. Walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon in January? Heaven.
The point is, while every person in this world is connected, and we’re all afloat on the same river, each one of us is having a purely unique experience. Some of us took rafts and are paddling furiously along, some of us are tubing with a beer cooler in tow, and some of us are swimming it and taking occasional breaks to sun ourselves on warm rocks along the way. Maybe there are children in my future, and the job I’ve always wanted or my own business and, yes, even a retirement plan. But those things won’t happen for me the way they happen for anyone else, and thinking they should is the first step toward guaranteed misery.
There’s nothing wrong with the desire to grow as you flow down the river. Maybe you end up ditching your tube for a paddle. Maybe you realize it’s time to put the paddle down and drift for a while. The point is, you do what makes sense for your life, and you do the best you can at everything you do. And, above all, you find a sense of deep satisfaction in knowing that where you are at every single moment is perfect. And it will change. But it will always remain perfect.
Eyes on your own mat, Amanda. Eyes on your mat.