I wish I could take a pen and notebook to yoga. With so much wisdom to absorb in an hour, wouldn’t it be nice to write it all down?
Yesterday, as I wobbled in my standing split, I found myself staring at my left foot. As I studied the veins in my foot, I realized something: The veins in my foot are imperfect. They meander. They wander past my toes and toward my ankle, with no apparent strategy or plan. They are fat in some places and skinny in others. They pulse in some places and stream in others. They are generally cattywumpus.
Not only my veins, but my entire foot struggled with my standing split. It shook. It wobbled to the left and right. Even my poor toes were in distress. The big one tried to look brave and steady-as-she-goes. The littlest one just turned on its side, surrendering completely, like a dog asking for a belly scratch. And the rest of my toes just sat there, trembling. The whole business was totally imperfect.
Here comes the part I wanted to write down: My foot is imperfect. And yet, here I am, still holding this standing split. I’m struggling, but I’m persevering. Life is like that, isn’t it? We are imperfect. We struggle, but we persevere. We do our best.
My second realization: I didn’t make my foot. I’m not sure who did – God, Gaia, Mom and Dad, the selfish gene – it doesn’t matter. The point is that it was made to imperfection. If my foot is imperfect, then the rest of me can be imperfect too. In spite of my imperfections, I will persevere. I will do my best. It’s all kind of liberating, isn’t it, to be freed of our yearning for perfection?
Thoughts of imperfection lingered in my head for the rest of the day. That night, I picked up Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates. I opened it to page 93, where I read this quote:
“Everyone is already the living Buddha, complete, whole, perfect as you are. All this action and effort to become special is just making you very unspecial and creating a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.” – Zen master Dennis Genpo Merzel
Perfect as I am? Seriously? If I were to describe myself using a list of adjectives, “perfect” would not be on my list. This fellow is saying that we are perfect just as we are, imperfections and all. We should stop beating ourselves up, and use our energy in better ways.
Next I opened Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, to the chapter on our culture of scarcity. When Brown describes the culture of scarcity, she’s referring to that little voice in our heads that says, “I’m not ____ enough.” Have you heard that voice? You know, the one that says, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not productive enough”. That voice is constantly pointing to our imperfections and telling us we should be perfect. That voice sets unreasonable expectations and makes us feel we aren’t enough.
What does any of this have to do with my foot? Well, it goes something like this: My foot is imperfect. If my foot is imperfect, then rest of me can be imperfect. I can accept my imperfection as perfect. I will struggle, but I will do my best. Sometimes I will fail. It’s all okay. It is what it is, and it is all perfect.