I Can't Make You Love Me
Usually ideas for posts strike me, on the train, at the end of an especially sweaty practice, over a glass of wine with friends, but I have had trouble sitting down the last couple of weeks to write. And it’s not that life has been particularly boring recently. On the contrary. I’ve been a pinball for weeks, bouncing all over this chilly city. But the bounty of thoughts and words, the swell of emotions, is almost too much to put down. Every idea for a post is on the verge of becoming a novel, with ideas falling and spilling into one another before I have even fully comprehended them.
But there has been one revelation more earth-shattering than the rest of late (aside from being one of the greatest, saddest songs every written- I’m partial to Bon Iver’s haunting cover at the moment). I am only starting to come to grips with my need to be well-liked, the part of me that seeks approval from the most unfamiliar of strangers (especially from the most unfamiliar of strangers). This seeking, searching is an incredibly common general note for actors when they perform. And no surprise- we train to specifically plunge ourselves to incredible emotional depths, and are then asked to reveal that journey to anyone willing to pay the price of admission. That kind of introspection can create an intense, desperate need for validation- validation of the work, yes, but it really comes down to validation of who we are. And the irony will never fail to amaze me- the more we want something, the less we seem to find it. The less we need, the more we receive.
So it came to my attention that this need for approval was coming through in my performance- that it was not just something that generally applied to me, but that applied TO ME. And lord have mercy, you would think I had never been told to take a deep breath in my entire life. I was frustrated, most of all by the fact that I had no idea what the “fix” was. Because it was obvious that what I needed was to fix this, and fix it fast. But where is the flowchart, the diagram, the to-do list with the neat little boxes for check marks telling me how lay myself bare and ask for nothing in return?
That’s the answer I came up with too.
And so I’ve gone back to my teaching to find what there is to be found. There are things that I say EVERY DAY, in every single class that I teach, that are still lessons I need to learn. Or maybe I’ve learned them inside of a lizard pose, but not inside 16 bars of a legit ballad. How doing less is sometimes exactly what brings about more. To show up and know that my best efforts on any given day have to be enough. To trust that consistency and commitment are what bring results, and that forcing, pushing, pressing, are almost always counterproductive. To understand that nothing is really connected until there is breath. To try to be fully present, wherever I am, and to not deny fear, anxiety, anger, or anything else that shows up along the way. And to take anything that falls short of perfection as anything but a failure.
Also- we don’t do a lot of swearing in yoga. Not at ourselves and not at others. But sometimes, instead of seeking its love, the rest of the world just needs a nice big #$@* you.