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The Lighter Side

This week a group of my yoga students found out firsthand that I am not the reliable leader I pretend to be.

When we arrived for class, the room where we normally meet was being used to host a local election, and it was packed with colorful signs, electronic voting booths, and long well-regulated lines of patiently (or not) waiting people. For about 15 minutes my students and I wandered the halls, lugging yoga mats and looking for a room we could use. The situation was not helped by the fact that I had apparently not filled in paperwork correctly, and the community center had no record of my teaching a class on this day at all. We ended up in tiny, unfamiliar room with less time and more distraction than might be ideal for a class entitled “Yoga for Balance.”

But honestly, as things often do, it worked out fine. We liked the smaller space and its huge windows. The floor was old, honey-colored wood that must have been polished a million times. One student smiled and shared with us that back in the day, she had attended elementary school in this same building--these hallways used to be filled with fifth graders!

At the end of class, along with my tenth apology, I acknowledged that paperwork is not my forte. In fact, I admitted, I was headed home to do a bunch of huge, electronic, boring, form-related tasks that I had been avoiding for months.

“Well, that’s a good thing,” an older gentleman said as he laced up his shoes enthusiastically. “I’d be suspicious of you if you rushed home so-o-o-o happy to do paperwork!”

He’s right. And he made me notice that I had been beating myself up for months (years?) regarding paperwork procrastination. Could it be that I’m simply a person who would rather be doing other things? Things that I find interesting, or genuinely like? Maybe I do need to cultivate self-discipline in order to finish unpleasant tasks, but maybe I can also accept that I need such discipline because the world is wonderful and enticing and fun and I like being in it--not because I am insufficient or deeply flawed.

During this longest day of the year, use the extra light to consider one of your own quirks or shortcomings. Do you curse aloud in your car during highway gridlock? Do you find it impossible to eat steamed vegetables? Are you prone to chatting with random strangers at the grocery store, or have a weakness for gossip? Imagine that this limitation is merely an echo of your other self: the person who likes to be punctual, the gourmand who appreciates rich culinary flavors, that inner-human who wants to connect deeply with others.

Yes, we should continue to iron out the kinks and fluff up the foibles of personality. But in the meantime, we might also look for the lighter side, accept the wholeness of our being, and include the good stuff. In doing so, we discover more energy for the actual task at hand. So as summer progresses, if you find yourself regretting another bad sunburn, bemoaning one too many hotdogs or sweltering in the heat of an I-95 backup, remember to take it easy on yourself… after all, it would indeed be awfully suspicious if you lo-o-o-o-ved sitting in all that traffic.

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