Last night I subbed a class for a dear friend who had caught a nasty stomach virus. I arrived about 20 minutes before class began, and the 25 people pre-registered for class quickly turned into 70 people in the room. Sold out room = get close to your neighbor.
A sea of New Yorkers sat before me ready to move. As I gazed out over their faces, I remembered sitting on their side of that same room two and a half years ago.
How did I get here? Who is this person sitting on the podium? How did I get so lucky to have this as my job, where every day I am given the opportunity to be with people, to share what I know, to unconditionally love what I do with no hesitation.
Nietzche said “A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us”. I feel as though I’ve experienced so many thoughts, so many possibilities in the last two years that I wouldn’t even recognize who I was if I saw the me I was then. Sitting on her mat head down, wishing she was passionate about something, wishing she could love herself even a fraction as much as she loved others, afraid to be vulnerable and alone, foreign in her own skin, and walking the streets of NYC with a broken and bleeding heart. Would I know who she was if I saw her? What would she think of me? What would I say to her?
If I could, I would tell her what she would eventually come to learn. That only fear can grip us into a place of immobility and rigidness. Fear of succeeding, fear of dying alone, fear of not being loved, fear of shining, fear of experiencing love and losing it. But all these things, though we may want to exclaim will never cripple us again, never get the best of us, will do so over and over. They will continue to shatter us, transform us, drive us crazy, as we fall time and time again.
I would tell her that falling means you are trying. Falling is a good thing, if not the best thing you can do. If you are not falling, if your world is not being rocked and you are spending too much time in calmer waters with a disease in your soul, then you need to try harder. And when you think you’ve tried hard enough, you try harder still.
There is such a deepened gratitude and satisfaction that comes once you admit that the largest goal in life is just practicing your falls gracefully. More importantly, it’s accepting that though you will crumble and break into a million pieces every time you fall; in those moments where you are picking yourself back together you eventually begin to only pick up the things that are true to your nature. You leave behind the things that don’t suit you, the things that drag you down. In this way, each break is a cleanse, is a new start. Each breakdown is a way to shed old habits like a snake sheds it’s skin.
I’d tell her to do the things that scare her the most, because once you get past the break, everything is limitless. I’d tell her that she needs to trust herself to get her through the waves, because the only person she’ll be with the rest of her life is herself. I’d tell her to surrender, not as a gesture of giving up, but as an admittance of strength. I’d tell her, “I love you.”