I spent last week in the plains of Manitoba in the midst of (I quote a life-long Manitoban) "the longest, coldest winter I can remember." And, it's a land that I love, for no apparent reason (this love is especially confounded by the sub-zero temperatures that didn't let up, and wind chills whipping across the improbably flat landscape). But, I think the validity of my perspective was confirmed when the woman I was working with said, "Well, you certainly can't forget you're alive when you step outside." These moments when you're acutely aware that you are alive, and when there is no hiding from or obscuring this awareness, are particularly powerful. And there is a singular kind of power in such a rugged landscape.
Tonight, after a yoga class that has my legs feeling like dead weights, I am reminded of this again, as I am in every moment when I am asked to hold a pose that shakes: accept the discomfort, and simply be with it. And I continue to recognize that there are things I'd love to shy away from, that I'd like to move through without having to feel (and, yes, there are times that I choose to escape so that I don't have to). These are the moments that are worth paying attention to. Obviously, we can reframe our perspectives any time we want, but the best work might be in the attentiveness to what's is right in front of us.
I've been teasing out some notions of purpose. I've been recognizing the spaces in time when I'm offering up all I have to a situation that needs what I have to offer; these are the ones that make me feel most alive. It's not that the work isn't hard; the poses (whether on the mat or off) are painful at times. But, they are so much less painful than simply going through the motions. I'm a grown up enough to know that there are times when we have to go through the motions to get to the "next thing," but I am also aware enough of my own mortality and the presence of time to understand that too much going through the motions is a waste of a good passion (and a good life).
[Sadly, the BeeGees' "Staying Alive" has now lodged itself in my head, but I will move through this (a good example of what it might be okay NOT to pay attention to).]
What I do know to be true? No one magically landed in a "perfect life." No one magically had a trajectory that was devoid of challenge or distraction. The people we see who seemingly have all they need and wanted? Well, I'm pretty sure they worked their asses off to create that space. They decided (and formatively assessed, adjusted accordingly, ad nauseum) what to attend to. They decided what was serving them, how to exist in the spaces and places they chose, they owned their choices, and they moved forward as they continued to listen deeply to what they heard from themselves. And, since they're human, I'm pretty sure that there are still some really challenging life-events to move through. I'm pretty sure not one of them said, "Oh, well, society said I had to do _______, and now I'm thoroughly satisfied with my existence." There's a deeper listening going on.