I have practiced yoga for many many years and have had my ups and downs with my confidence level. When I was younger, I was more agile, stronger and flexible. What I never really had a problem with was balance. Man, have times changed!
I was never great at tree pose where you balanced one foot against your thigh and raised your arms up high and strong like branches. Some days I would hold the pose for a long period of time without wavering and other times I could barely keep my foot stable for a few minutes.
But now even the simplest poses seem to allude me. I find myself falling over and feeling like a klutz. How is that possible after practicing for forty-eight years?! I feel weak. Not to others but to myself. I am reminded that my body is not what it use to be. I am still a size six and climb forty-seven steps up to my house numerous times on any given day. But balancing from right to left can be ridiculously challenging.
When I find I can’t practice the way I use to it reminds me of how other things in life are not as easy. I don’t mean physically. I mean the day to day living. The balance of life.
There are days when my balance is totally off. When no matter how I remind myself of my good fortune, I have doubts as to whether I will be able to handle all of the unknowns that await me. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. All the self-help books, affirmations, and meditations just don’t seem to alleviate the restlessness I feel. I can tell you I don’t know all the answers and wonder how other people swing the life balance in a positive direction.
One definition of balance is a condition in which different elements are equal or in the same proportions. So my goal then is to try to balance the quiet with the noise. To counterbalance the worry with the same amount of security knowing that everything is going to turn out ok. In fact, even better than ok. Because at the end of every yoga session is Shavasana. It might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. Now that’s my kind of balance.
Many years ago, while in New York City, I took up sculpture. I enrolled in a Saturday class at the New School/Parsons School of Design. I was teaching a night course at the time at Parsons so the sculpture class was free for faculty. I have always had a love affair and great admiration for the classic sculptors especially Rodin. I have been to the museum many times and am overwhelmed with the amount of work this man has accomplished. There was no way he had time to sleep.
The time it takes me to do one small head I’m sure he could have done in a couple of hours and to perfection. I remember the feeling of relaxation sculpting brought me so I decided to enroll in sculpture class recently. Wow, have I changed. In my youth, I had no expectations of what I should know and how “good” I would be. The world was my oyster and I knew if my piece wasn’t perfect I could chalk it up to youth.
But now, many years later, after being in the “professional” world for so long I am much harder on myself. I am judgemental and feel I should be automatically perfect. After all, I’ve been practicing my art for many, many years. “It should be second nature,”I tell myself. And then I struggle to not make the mouth look like a fish or the eyes look like they are two holes.
Part of me wants to walk away and say screw it. I don’t need to do this. But the other part (the defiant part) tells me to keep at it. After all, when the weekend is done, no one will see the piece but me. But it’s not about the sculpture. It’s about me not being able to finish something that is up to my standards.
What this diatribe all means is that I don’t have the patience to take the time to learn again what I knew so many years ago. I am a makeup artist by trade not a sculpter. And each skill I try to do needs time and practice to discover what works and what doesn’t. I’m sure Rodin didn’t create a masterpiece first time out of the box. But he was a genius so maybe the second time!
Regardless, that doesn’t give me the excuse to continue not to sculpt. Each time I get a bit better and the lessons I learned years ago are coming back to me. The thrill and love of sculpting is also coming back to me. And that is what is important when moving on in life. Find the things to rediscover that use to give you joy before you had to worry about making a living. Rediscover the beauty of taking as long as you like to do what brings you pleasure. And when that mouth finally looks the way you want it to or the eyes are beautiful and telling then you know you have accomplished what we seem to want out of life. Satisfaction, joy and love.
As I get older I have a new outlook of the possibilities in my life. I am definitely not the age society makes me. I know very well what number of years I have spent on this planet but I am far from checking out of life. I don’t mean that in a depressing way. I mean that in a vibrant way.
I think our society today, especially in this country, is missing a great deal from retiring folks before they are willing and bringing in a new “breed”. Not because I am of that age but because we are losing some vital and important information from people who have a tremendous amount of knowledge. They may not be as savvy as the younger set when it comes to the computer age but they sure do have a world of knowledge in survival and social skills whether it be in business or in the arts or for that matter in life.
Nothing speaks louder than what we call “old school” as a way of looking at how life should be lived. As I get older I am more aware of how quickly time goes by and I still have a lot of living to do. There are so many things I want to learn and experience and I know the clock is ticking. When I was younger I never really thought about what it would be like when I reached the age I am now. I remember my mom’s frustration when she couldn’t remember a word or didn’t have the stamina she did when she was younger. Fortunately, I have been blessed with good health and so still have a very healthy yoga practice and can endure long days like the best of them.
I have definitely been guilty of working too much and not stopping to breathe. I still have the desire and passion but in a very different way. I don’t mind stepping back and watching the world swirl around me than hopping in when I can help. I am satisfied with how my career has gone and I have seen the world in the most rewarding and sometimes crazy ways. Now I just want to focus on what makes me passionate. Grandma Moses started painting at 78 and did ok. As Grandma Moses once said, “Life is whatever we make it. Always has been, always will be.”