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Nasty, little five-letter words: Should

The fork in the road

Today, 10/29, is my four-year anniversary of my graduation from yoga teacher training.  (Thanks, Facebook, for the reminder, without which my dates would be fuzzy!)  It’s kind of a big deal, even today, though I don’t teach.

I’ve always believed that if I’m going to do something, I should do it well.  If I’m not going to do it well, then it’s probably not worth doing.  And I’m blessed that I am capable of doing most things well.    Sales being a notable exception.  But most of my life, whatever I have tackled, I have succeeded at, and succeeded at doing it with excellence.

Yoga training, though, was the first thing I have ever done in my adult life that I committed to with my heart, in addition to my brain.  In addition to all the expansion of that training, this was a phenomenal experience for me, because it was the first time I wanted to do, had a deep desire to do, what I was doing.

Most of my life, before that point, had been composed of what I should be doing.  I should go to school and get good grades.  I should go to college and get a good education.  I should be in IT because it pays well and is steady work, and I’m good at it. What pulls of desire I had were weak, and generally ignored in favor of what was known and considered sufficient.

Prior to beginning that training, I only knew commitment of my brain.  I only knew commitment to what culture said I should be doing.  That experience clarified for me the difference in doing things well because I should be doing them, and because I wanted to be doing them.  I could not get enough information, enough practice, enough exposure.  I was being drenched in light and love and philosophy and movement and sound and touch and joy and connection, and still I was thirsty for more.

When it ended, while I started subbing classes and kept reading and practicing, my energy was pulled back into my life of shoulds.  My eyes had been opened, but my patterns not broken.

Since that point in time, I’ve had several occasions where I’ve faced a fork in the road – a choice between what I think I should do, and what I know I want to do.  Daily, I am reminded of the difference in commitment to what I should do, compared to what I want to do.  I should do some work, so that I can pay my bills.  And while I’m quite good at what I do, the drive I used to have just isn’t there.  I have to really push myself to be thorough and do good work.  I have to force myself to be present, because I want to be elsewhere.  And the stress that I build in my body while I do this is noticeable to me.  Life is good, but it isn’t sweet.

Because what I want to be doing is practicing and (not quite so much) reading and studying.  Reflecting.  Preparing.  I want these things more than I actually want to pay my bills right now, but I haven’t completely broken free of the hold of should yet.  But when I do these things that I want, my body is relaxed, my attention stays present with ease.  I’m certainly not perfect; the future appears in my head frequently, but briefly, and with excitement to apply what I am learning, to pursue this path and do so well, which returns me to my moment of practice or study.  Life is good and sweet.

I want to eradicate the energy of should from my life.  Of course, there is obligation, there are debts, there are things that need to be done.  But when choosing how to focus and expend my energy where there is choice, I hope I have the courage and tenacity to follow my deep-seated desires, to pursue what I want.  The fruit of that choice is so very sweet.

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