I Walk the Line
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I had this great conversation with a friend recently. And not the usual I’m-just-waiting-until-you-take-a-breath-so-I-can-follow-up-with-my-own-opinion conversation. The thing I love about this friend is that we actually listen to one another. And respond in kind. So even though we might start off with two differing points of view, what we usually find is we rarely are in actual disagreement with one another. Instead of a battle between two sides where one side emerges victorious, we often end up seeing the topic at hand from multiple angles. You don’t have to pick one side if you can broaden your worldview enough to see all the sides.
This particular Sunday afternoon, we chatted about the yoga practice (duh), and within that, whether it’s “better” to focus on perfecting the poses you already have in your repertoire, to continue to discover layers and microlayers of depth, meaning, and form, or whether it’s “better” to challenge yourself to move outside of your current boundaries, beyond what you may be physically or mentally ready to tackle.
He was at first the former, and I the latter, in this particular conversation. He referenced practicing your major scales in music until they are seamless; I talked about getting out of your comfort zone. I agreed that there is always more to learn from your foundations; he acknowledged that new material can bring about unexpected growth.
One side promotes perfection, a constant refinement process that can lead to being stuck in a holding pattern. One side promotes messiness, and the risk of injury, particularly if you start trying on postures because your ego wants to take on something tricky and cool.
What came to me, two hours deep into the discussion, is that there is this line that is the perfect blend of both. And you are always just slightly to one side of the line, leaning a little right or a little left. So whether you need to perfect what you’ve already got or challenge yourself with something new depends on which way you’re leaning in that given moment. It’s not a fixed prescription, it’s no hard and fast rule of engagement. If you’re playing it safe, do something scary. If you’ve been living away from yourself for a long time, come back home.
Maybe the line of perfect balance isn’t an actual thing you can ever stand on. Perhaps it’s just the marker between right and left, black and white, control and abandon. It’s the sway of the pendulum, moving us back and forth while we are simultaneously always moving forward. More importantly, that sway tells us that we haven’t gone too far when we find ourselves on one side of the line. It’s the natural rhythm of our lives, and the next swing will take us back across, and so on, and so on, and so on…