Throughout my life there have been many times wherein I’ve felt as though I’m behind the 8-ball, playing catch up, not quite up to par, late to the party, so to speak…. It started way back to my earliest memories of childhood. I was smaller than EVERYone else – boys and girls alike, I couldn’t catch or throw very well, I was almost always the last one picked when we lined up for sports (the only thing that saved me from being dead last was my popularity, which I had somehow manage to eek out…). I couldn’t swim until I was 13, I didn’t grow any hair on my body until I was 15 or 16 and I was still shorter than most all of the boys and super scrawny. And then there’s the whole gay-thing. I held fast to the closet until I was 23 and even then it took a few years to really blow the doors off.
There have been points in my life where I caught up, sometimes in big leaps. Like when I scored well on exams or gained 30 pounds of muscle at 18 or when I graduated with my doctorate at 29, but those have somehow seemed less impactful to me. I think because they didn’t truly speak to my dharma – my calling in this life. They were just me, doing what I thought I should do, and trying to prove my worth.
Lately I’ve been feeling a bit of that lag-behind drama. For many years I’ve had what I thought was a strong yoga practice. It wasn’t until I got the gumption to step away from my pseudo-dharma and gave myself permission to commit fully to my yoga practice that I realized just how much more there is for me to develop. I look at people 10, even 20, years younger than me and I feel like that short, skinny, insecure-but-hiding-behind-popularity, little boy again. As I have a few times in my life, I find myself wishing I’d known then what I know now.
And what do I know now? Well, for starters, I know that much of my life has been shaped by fear. Yes, fear that I wasn’t enough in one way or another. So much time and energy wasted around mind activity spurred by preoccupation with what-others-think-of-me. Trying to be the good-boy, doctor, professional, upstanding citizen, make-Mama-proud man that I thought I should be and never have quite been. So, I’ve been working with my mind to LET THAT SHIT GO. And the time I spend on the mat working within my body is a big part of that process.
And I also know that the concept of “success” that we’ve been fed by American society since coming out of the womb is a load of horse poop! Right up until my last day at FDA (Dec 17, 2015) and even into several months following, I was still acting under this premise of “success”. I had put together a plan that included a timeline and deliverables to open my own yoga shala. And I touted it all over town – “I’m leaving FDA and I’m opening my own shala” – because I felt that I needed to make such a statement to prove my worth and maintain my success level. UGH….
Thank Hanuman I managed to work past that. Things with the shala timeline started to breakdown and over the course of that period I began to see what I was doing, falling right back into the same samskaras, and I began to question myself. So, when the plans fell apart it was actually a relief. Now I’m super grateful that I don’t, in fact, have a shala because DC real estate doesn’t allow for someone like me, with my newly framed perspective on success, to own and operate a “successful” business (insert double eye roll here).
So now, here I am at 47, every day, rolling out my mat and working through the asanas and working through me. Sure, I wish I’d come to these realizations sooner, and sure, I struggle a bit with that feeling of being late to the party, but better late than never.