Holding On

“Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding – because that’s the moment when interesting begins.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
My life is a bit crazy these days: juggling 3 careers which all fight for my attention, most days I leave the house at 7am and don’t arrive back home until 8pm. Then I do lesson and class prep, research, writing, sleep a bit, and start the process over again. Some days I just want to drop it all and be a hermit for a week straight. Some days I just want to collapse and toss my music binder out the window, hide from my piano, roll up my yoga mat, and never drive anywhere again…
And then I get a good night’s sleep, remember how stir-crazy I get after 30 minutes of inactivity, and get back to work…
It is usually at these moments when I want to give up that creativity ensues and life changes occur. We have a saying in yoga: “you are not truly in the pose until you want out of it.” This lovely and ironic reminder teaches us that the uncomfortable is what helps us to grow and change. It is the uncomfortable that moves our lives forward.
So many of us opt out of life experiences as soon as things become tricky. Our short attention spans and multi-tasking culture make us flit from moment to moment–always seeking comfort and entertainment. When life begins to get difficult, we zone out in front of the television. When our bodies are unhappy, we mask the pain rather than taking the time to treat the cause. When we want to lose weight or learn a new skill, try to take short cuts and receive instant gratification. We are so trained to fulfill our every whim that we lack the ability to sit with discomfort, to work through the frustration, and to stick with something even when it is hard. Whether it’s an advanced yoga posture requiring long-term commitment and a slow methodical study or a difficult vocal technique that will take years to master, those who succeed are those who continue on even when they can’t see the way before them.
As a student at USC, I saw 4 voice majors with breathtaking natural talent drop out or choose different majors after freshman year. Their voices were astounding for their age. The first time they opened their mouths, my stomach jumped up into my throat and I believed there was no way I could compete or keep up with them. Then, suddenly, the work load required of a music major became too much for them to handle. They buckled under the pressure. Being a singer and a musician was no longer easy. It didn’t come naturally to them, so they either moved on to something that was easier or quit altogether. When I heard they were changing majors or leaving the school, I was shocked. My eyes wide, my mouth agape, I couldn’t understand why someone would come so far only to give up and never sing again. It broke my heart. I, as the underdog who struggled for everything, didn’t know what easy was. I was either too stubborn or too stupid to give up. But I do know what interesting is. My struggles have forced me to adapt, to seek new strategies, and to lean into discomfort. So, while I would like to have a few more hours of sleep each night, I wouldn’t change my life and my crazy workload for anything. I’ll keep working, struggling, growing, and leading an interesting life.

#letsgetflexyin2015 challenge day 22: karnapidasana/deaf man’s pose. Sometimes in life you need to shut off the senses and take the journey inward. We live in a world of sensory overload: bright lights, loud noises, advertisements everywhere you turn… If we focus too much on the outside world, we forget to listen and reflect on our inner world. Take some time today and close yourself off; make a whirling noise and go into standby mode. Your body, your mind, and your being deserve it and you’ll return to work refreshed, focused, and ready for more.

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