stretch goal

Last week I got into a conversation about how yoga was different from weight lifting. An obvious conversation, a conversation where there could be no disagreement. But—because there is always a but—we disagreed on how to measure progress. I hate progress. I hate that it’s always presented as a straight line, one thing leading to the next, as if its measurers have never heard of life or people or progress.

You see, she said, it’s easier to measure it in weight-lifting because you can see the numbers go up. Whereas, with yoga, there’s no easy way to see if you’re getting better.

I never feel like I’m coming to the same conclusions as everyone else. I never feel like we’re starting in the same place.

When my mom died, I went to the library and checked out books. I read memoirs by girls younger than me, girls who made mistake after mistake after mistake, whose writing of their memoirs was meant to indicate that they had learned something. I read famous memoirs about unparalleled tragedy (is there any other?), about unspeakable grief spoken. I read poetry books and poems, and advice columns, and I thought, “How?” and “Why us?”

I spend a lot of time moving slowly, I spend a lot of time practicing.

In reading, I was looking for the thing that made us all similar. I was looking for the things we did wrong in our early youth, our college years, our adulthood, our somewhere. I was looking at the ferocity with which we loved, how that maybe set us up for loss. Maybe less was better? Or, maybe the love was supposed to be the only thing. Maybe if our lives had revolved around them things would have been different. Or, maybe if we had been more independent the world could have handled us both forever?

I would not look at the obvious idea that you know that I know, the one where there is only forward, that the past is only what has passed and there’s no explanation except the present, except now. Somehow, it’s always only now.

So, yoga.

There is no mediated progress. There is no final pin to move, no four-minute mile letting you know you have arrived. There is only arriving: reaching your hands up and acknowledging, with your body, that there is space, more space, that there has always been more space. There is no next level. That’s the point. Every moment you are there you are there. X marks the spot. You Are Here. Every day you show up you are remembering how gigantic you really are.

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