I found myself leaving a yoga class recently, disappointed that I had failed to master a new pose. Angry that I had fallen, but, also, that it was something I couldn’t control. It’s never not difficult to trust the carefully orchestrated balance of your body as you shift upside down with that little voice saying, “Um, excuse me. You’re going the wrong way. Stop, this is scary.”
As I toppled into what will later be dubbed “squashed scorpion” pose, I felt the full weight (literally hence the fall), of how much easier it is to stay in control. And, no, I’m not like advocating wild drug/alcohol/ice cream abuse, type out of control (okay, yes to the ice cream). But within our lives arise opportunities and situations where we are completely, helplessly not in control. And we can choose to go all in there or we can retreat to a safer place the moment anything feels shaky.
I don’t believe you have to taste dirt to get that chocolate is good. Chocolate itself pretty much tells you it’s good in relation to nothing else (it’s chocolate, okay, enough). But there’s something extra sweet in the knowing satisfaction of “Hey, this isn’t gross dirt, this is delicious chocolate.”
And for every handstand fall or bad breakup or raisin hidden in a chocolate chip cookie, there exists the possibility of the mastery of the yoga pose, the moments of being irretrievably in love, the non-imposter chocolate chip cookie. And when that possibility becomes actuality, it feels so much more strongly good because you tried and trusted despite the potential of failure.
The thing to remember that much like yoga (or like anything that requires work), the exercise of your life is a practice — a practice in trust — trusting others, trusting yourself, trusting this mysterious world, trusting life itself.
You will fall.
You will make mistakes, you will embarrass yourself, you will (occasionally and accidentally) tuck your dress into your underwear, you will get hurt, you will fail. But, without those things, you would never succeed, you would never feel proud, you would never explore (especially the boundaries of underwear/outerwear), you would never love, you would never learn.
So, yes, you could give up — avoid all the bad, miss all the good. Or, you could try again.
Life is the ultimate paradox. It seems the more we fall, the more we can feel it, the more we know, the more confusing and unpredictable the whole thing gets. But the very unknowing — if at the next try, you will succeed or simply find whatever it is you’re trying for — is the best part.
Because, at the end of it all, winning and losing is never the point — you will do both, many times, in many ways — and no matter the pain or disappointment you (may) feel when you fall, it’s nothing compared to the utter lack from not doing, not feeling and not trying. Always rather did, than did not.
Because the thing is, you only get this one exquisite life to do, feel, learn, explore, be, try everything.
So what’s it going to be: run away the moment anything seems out of control, or let yourself go to the practice, the experience of it all?