“Today’s the day,” he said, as he stood next to my mat.
“Come on, let’s go,” he said, not giving me a chance to change my mind. “Clasp your fingers behind your head.”I placed the crown of my head on my mat and clasped my fingers together as he had instructed.
“Kick your legs up.” I kicked my legs up into his hands and he lifted them straight into the air. He held my ankles, firmly at first, then lightly, and then he let go of his grip entirely.
My legs began to sway back and forth.
“Don’t talk yourself out of it,” he said. My mind raced, the thoughts not particularly encouraging.
The “I can’t.”
The, “How is this possible?” The, “I’m gonna fall! I’m gonna fall!” Until my yoga instructor interrupted my shaky stream of consciousness.
“Don’t think about it. Just do it. Steady…steady…excellent!” After 10 years of trying, I was up in my first unassisted headstand.
For a second, anyway. That “shaky stream of consciousness” mouths off at me more than I probably realize.It comes in many forms and is typically preceded by fear, but fear in a form so subtle, that I don’t always recognize it as that.
It’s caution. Is this headstand safe? You’ll fall!
It’s self-doubt. This writing isn’t very good. Maybe I ought to cancel this blog post.
It’s rationalization. Is that really a practical decision? We have these conversations with ourselves repeatedly and often, yet how many of them go unnoticed? How many of these unnoticed conversations have we based life changing decisions upon? Have you ever watched your thoughts? Have you ever really listened to how you talk to yourself?
Would you ever talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself? If you were on the sidelines, watching your best friend run her first 5K, would you tell her that she wouldn’t finish? If she were writing a book, would you tell her that her efforts were futile? If she were starting a business or going back to school, would you tell her she would fail?
My guess is you wouldn’t. My guess is that if you were to talk to someone else the way you talk to yourself, it would be considered rude.
My guess is that you’d lose a friend.
I was recently reminded of this quote from Mia Hamm:
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of
practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love
with the game and never looked back.
Play for her.”
All of us were once kids with dreams. Maybe our dreams are the same now, or maybe they’ve changed. In a perfect world, we’d believe in those dreams the way we did when we were children.
Once upon a time, before the thought of failure entered our minds, we were invincible. We were in love with possibilities. We were brave. Some days, I lack faith in the person I am today, thanks to the clouded visions we often have of ourselves due to fears and past failures and misguided perceptions.
Yet, when I think back to myself as a fourth grade girl in coke bottle glasses, hashing out the details of her first novel in a Harriet the Spy marble notebook, I have no choice but to try. She had a vision of what life would be like. Who am I to rob her of that vision? If someone talked to her the way I talk to myself, she would scoff. There’s no way she would buy into their negativity.
When we don’t have the drive to try for the people we arr now, when we’re ready to sit out or quit or just plain give up, think about yourself as a fourth grader and what that fourth grader wanted from life. She’s counting on you. How could you possibility let her down?
Go on now, play for her.
*This post was inspired by Christine’s post, “Am I a Hypocrite,” which I had cited as one of my favorite posts of the year. Please come back on Thursday when it will be my honor to have Christine as my first guest blogger.
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