the people we love will astonish us

One of the gifts that yoga gives us is the ability to see clearly. On our mats, we learn to see ourselves as we really are. To be certain, we learn about our anatomy. Are our arms longer or shorter relative to our torso? Are our hips naturally loose or tight? But we also learn about aspects of ourselves that are harder to see. We begin to be aware of our mindset as we practice. Do we feel hopeful or fearful? And how does that affect our practice? We start to notice our reactions. Do we tend to shrink away from or rise to meet challenges? Do we take success in stride? Does failure make us want to quit or to keep trying? It’s not long before we find ourselves at work or at the doctor or running errands and calling upon the self-knowledge we gained on our mats.

Quite naturally, we begin to see others more clearly as well. We may become aware of one friend’s creativity in the face of problems or start to turn to another for help with logistics. Instead of assuming a tersely worded email is a personal attack, we seek the meaning behind the note because we have observed that its sender is a man of few words. Instead of getting our knickers in a twist when a fellow committee member starts yet another argument, we can gently step back because we’ve learned she thrives on conflict. As we observe the people who fill our days, they will probably surprise us fairly regularly. After all, if we can surprise ourselves by rising to meet a challenge we would typically shy away from, doesn’t it make sense that an associate could just as easily surprise us? As this happens again and again, we begin to shed assumptions.

For many reasons, our assumptions about our family members are often the last to go. First off, I think these assumptions are the hardest for us to see no matter how aware and “evolved” we are. They are squarely in our blind spot. Secondly, we’re with our family a whole lot more than we’re with anyone else. Assumptions, in this case, are almost a practicality. They serve as a type of relationship short-hand that speeds things along. Thirdly, these assumptions can be a bit circular in nature. Because we know our children, our spouses, our siblings and our parents so intimately, our assumptions about them are often right. Our high rate of accuracy can actually validate our inclination to make more assumptions. And so it goes.

Sometimes it takes something mind-blowing like my son’s dramatic turn on stage this weekend to shake up our assumptions. These moments are gifts of clarity. But, even without a big, public production, if we keep our eyes open and continue to observe people as closely as we observe ourselves on our yoga mats, we can shed the blinders of our assumptions. When we do, quite often the people we love will astonish us.

—Amy Nobles Dolan, from this essay on Elephant Journal


assumption

Every moment of faithful discipleship which was unseen by others is seen by God. Every interior struggle against temptation about which the world will never know is known by God. Every good intention that the world misunderstood is thoroughly understood by God. Every good that was invisible to the world is visible to God. The Assumption means that our full and final reward is with God.

—from the Mary the Queen bulletin on Assumption Sunday, 15 August 2010


with a quiet heart

We have little control over the cards life deals us, other than accepting what happens with a quiet heart, or rejecting everything we don’t like and suffering more painful consequences. I’ve done both and recommend acceptance highly. When sorrowful mysteries are at work in our life, all we can do that’s helpful is wait and not try to shape the future before the time is ripe. That kind of soulful dumbness only hinders divine intervention. All we need to do is wait and remember: This too shall pass…. When we accept suffering as a mysterious part of what it means to be human, that’s when we’ll begin to see more clearly the exquisite pattern of our life.

—Sister Karol Jackowski, Ph.D., from this blog post on Whole Living


where I want to be

My imagination about what I can still do with this life is endless… There’s a security in having had some longevity. Longevity? Makes me sound so old. But there is security in that. You learn as you get older. You learn to give yourself a break. I want to continue to celebrate where I am and not be apologetic. Whether I’m 43 or 60, I want to say, this is where I want to be in my life, because, hey, this is it.

—Lauren Graham, actor, from this magazine interview


a thousand ways

In New York that summer, especially at dusk, in the Village or in midtown or on the Upper West Side, walking in a crowd of people or looking up at all the lit windows of an office or apartment building, I could feel like there were a thousand ways my life could go.

—Melissa Bank, from The Wonder Spot


like accordions

Time passes, and you resume. Later in life, like accordions, those relationships can snap back together, if you let friendships be living, breathing things.

—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., from “When Friendships Fray”


lightly

Travel light, very light, and take things that can work in many ways. When you figure out how to pack lightly, you figure out how to live lightly.

—Diane Von Furstenberg, designer