I’ve been going to yoga relatively regularly for the last few months. The goal has been to really try to increase my flexibility and balance. My hamstrings, for instance, are always tight because I’ve been running around on fields for decades and I guess I don’t really stretch religiously afterward. And balance, of course, is a key to success in many of the board sports I like. Plus, I don’t want to topple over when someone jumps on me. I want to be solid like an tree. And, they say you can’t hurt steel. So I often talk about wanting to be a steel tree. And I think yoga will help towards that end.
It is making a difference. It is super hard. The 1.5 hour sessions pretty much destroy me. But I love the challenge – it just really suits my personality to endeavor through the struggle to get better flexibility and to get better balance. My instructor talks about getting to “the edge” in certain poses or stances, and she basically is referring to that point where it starts to become difficult and painful (the good kind of pain when you are working out). And for sure, you want to quit, you want to cheat, you want to ease the discomfort – and you are faced with a choice right there at that moment. You can relent – which is okay, for sure, because we have to be good to our bodies and know when we are completely spent and need to back off a bit – or you can push through the edge, which will bring more strength, and flexibility, and balance. Succinctly put, if you really want to get to the next level, you can’t shy away from the edge. Rather, you have to embrace it (“embrace the suck!” as my friend Dan always says).
The edge is where things are physically challenging. Or emotionally challenging. Or relationally challenging. Or even spiritually challenging. Our desire for taking it easy and avoiding pain leads us to not spend a lot of time on the edge – which makes sense, because we are not masochists. But we also know from living enough life that growth happens on the edge. It may not be super fun or pleasant, but we know it tends to lead to results. My friend Jenny always reminds me of that.
Many of us want some sort of change in our lives right now. A good change. Particularly with the turning of the calendar, we may have a new hope in the core of our being that 2013 is going to be a good year, a better year. And yes, hopefully it will be. But I think that we will have to do our part to contribute to the change we want to see. Nothing crazy, but just in line with the notion that growth and good things happen when we live on the edge.
People talk about “the box” a lot. Thinking outside the box, etc. You know it, you’ve heard it. I’m actually so tired of that phrase, and perhaps you are as well. But conceptually, it makes sense when we think about living on the edge. *Inside* the box is within your comfort zone. Where you are not pushed to do anything different at all. You are just existing, and continuing to do things the way you always have. We know this typically doesn’t lead to growth, and sadly, it doesn’t even seem to lead to maintaining the status quo either. Invariably, inside the box, things just seem to deteriorate over time. Usually subtly, but then more obviously. And you look around, and you are like, what the HECK has happened to my life and dreams?!?!?!
So I don’t want to always be inside the box. But with that said, I am actually not a fan of living life *outside* the box. I feel this sometimes gets us into trouble. The way I see it is that we should be okay with the unique way in which God has wired us. And not try to force change by doing something that is completely against who we are at our essence. For example, maybe you really want to meet a guy right now. And it’s not happening at school, at work, at the grocery store, anywhere. But you really, really would like it to happen. And so there is always the option of going to a bar. I don’t have a problem with you doing that if you want, but let’s just say you never ever wanted to meet a guy at a bar. It just wasn’t “you” – something “you” would do.
If that’s the case, I just don’t think you should do it as a way of “living outside the box” because it is contrary to something you’ve felt very strongly about up until now. That’s all. I just don’t think things end well when we are not true to our heart. Maybe it helps for a little while, but I just don’t think it will in the long term. When I step insanely far out there, just to “make something happen,” it usually backfires or at least doesn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped. And then I end up kicking myself because I knew I didn’t have a peace about it in the first place, because it just wasn’t me. It just wasn’t me not because I was scared or nervous to do it, but because it just wasn’t me. I hope that makes sense.
So, anyways, what is left? At least, when it comes to the box…. Well, boxes have edges! I really like the edge. It’s out of our comfort zone, and requires something of us that is not naturally easy. But it’s not too remote to our God-given constitution, where it seems completely beyond ourselves to do – where it’s like, we’re just doing it because we desperately need something new to happen in our lives because we are sick and tired of how things currently are.
I was talking to my friend Lindsay the other day, and she was saying how she really wanted this cute guy at the YMCA where she works to come and talk to her. And we were just chatting about whether she would feel okay going up to just chat with him, randomly. And it made me think about the edge. Keeping to herself and being afraid of what he will think or if he will get weirded out doesn’t lead to any change or improvement or good thing at all. And she definitely doesn’t feel led to venture completely outside the box and go up to him and be incredibly forward and ask him to coffee, or for his number. I mean, she could, and there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with that – but it just isn’t who she is, and isn’t how she is wired, and I want her (and she wants) to stay true to her heart.
So, could she live on the edge in this case? And just be the one to initiate a quick, casual, starter conversation? Yes, it makes her nervous. Yes, it challenges her to do something she wouldn’t normally do. But, like I mentioned when I was talking about yoga, it will help her get better. It will grow her confidence – regardless of how he reacts – because she *did* it. She pushed through the fear and didn’t let the thoughts or opinions or reactions of someone else keep her from being her – in the truest sense. She will now know through experience that she can tackle something that is uncomfortable, and these events will build upon each other over time to honestly make her better, and better, and better. To tackle life, and to succeed in it.
So I’m going to keep trying to live on the edge, in yoga, and in the other areas of my life. And Lindsay is going to do the same. And so is my friend Dan, and my friend Jenny. What about you? Is there an edge that you’ve been avoiding, but realize the importance of spending more time there – even though it’s going to be a little rough? Maybe a lot rough? Deep down, if you’re thinking that it is probabably worth it, I hope you make the decision to go there. I think we both know it matters.