When I was a girl, I had to be savvy. My parents were young (mom was 20, dad 23), and I was the first born. Sometimes I'd call myself "the experiment". Since mom and dad were children themselves, I felt that I needed to have it together and know all the answers. Soon, my precocious maturity was praised by, and even entertained the adults. I was now expected to "know". At least that's how I felt.
I will never forget this one bus ride I took with my friend Melinda Morgan. We may have been in the first or second grade. The cut off shorts, which were long enough to be a skirt...were, I thought, called culottes. That's what my mother told me. On the day I wore this apparel, I heard Melinda use an alternate word: gauchos. After hearing this word several times, and finally from a pretty close friend, whom I thought I could trust, I had to find out the answer. I remember working up the courage to blurt out, under my breath, "what are gauchos?" Only Melinda didn't hear me. That was as far as it went, but even speaking it aloud was progress for me. I do not like to not know.
Imagine my frustration when confronted with open ended questions, or something called: process. The idea that I don't know the answer to the question of my own future can cause me to feel anxious. How will I approach writing my next book? Will I ever fall in love with someone I can settle into? How does my story end? Being in a state of staying open and teachable requires presence in the moment, and delight in the discovery. How do I get curious about and live my own process, without the anxiety?
Yoga provides me with an analogous space. I make progress on my mat when I approach my process with an open mind. This is why I love to take class from a variety of teachers. Each person has a slightly different take or experience, and when shared, it might strike a new revelation in my perception. Recently, I had the opportunity to take class with one of my old teachers from the mid-eighties. Baron Baptiste was a teacher I found in my teens. Although yoga had been a household activity, I found Baron when I was a gym rat, on my own terms. His approach resonated with me, and he was not much older than I. I was taken with his lazy LA accent, and his investigative approach. Little did I know that one day, he and I would be peers. His success as an instructor was foundational for many, and I had no designs on becoming a household name myself. Had I "known" the end to the story, perhaps I would have been far less teachable. Last year when I attended his class, I was tempted to explore something I have not tried in a long while: inversions. Due to several herniations in my spine, I choose not to go upside down because I know that it creates compression in the spine. This class, which I took in Hawaii, felt safe to me. Why not start from scratch and play like a child? I hadn't had any back issues for years! So I did. I played with going upside down, and finding my balance as I had in my youth. I did not know that my body would be able to deeply explore in the positions. It was not planned, or an aspiration, but became possible solely by curiosity. I felt such joy playing in the arena of the unknown, that this joy outweighed any wisdom I thought I'd have from the experience. I am so glad I did. Perhaps the key to living in the "I don't know," is to stay curious like a child. To live with a sense of wonderment.
Each day is new. We cannot say what will arrive in the next hour, moment, or breath. The only truth for me is " I don't know". In an effort to control or plan for the future, I may pretend that I have it all figured out, or that I am the one making the plans. One thing is for sure, no matter which decisions I make, God or the unifying force that connects us all, is running the show. The best I can do is breathe, play, be open, and teachable. This is living!