“I guess it all adds up to joy to the end.”

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“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.” (Lev Grossman, The Magicians)

When I first started teaching yoga, I’d get really nervous before each and every class, but especially the classes I taught at the studio. Now, I’m not teaching any classes at the studio, and I don’t feel any nerves at all. Partially, because I’ve had more practice as a teacher and partially because my current classroom atmosphere is relaxed and full of silliness in addition to yoga. Back then, I would panic before every class, losing my breath and ranting about my lack of capability to anyone who’d listen. Once, a teacher paused me mid rant, looked me in the eye, and said, “This isn’t about you. This is about the students that are going to come to this class, to this space, to practice yoga. Their yoga practice has very little to do with you.” At the time, I thought the comment was particularly callous, but now – I find great comfort in her words. Anytime I stress about something out of my control, (this stress is usually caused by people), I just think to myself, “Maybe this isn’t about you.”

Obviously, I’m pretty self-centered. I enjoy being the center of attention. (hence this blog.) I crave the energy that comes from being surrounded by people. I am a poor example of an introvert, and a good example of why the Myers Briggs Test is more complicated than it initially appears. I’m neurotic and controlling in every arena of my life. I’m a drama queen. I’m needy in my relationships with other people; I demand attention, and affirmation, and affection, and I’m mostly unforgiving when those things are lacking. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to apply my teacher’s mantra to all aspects of my life, “Maybe this isn’t about you.” When I struggle with something that I don’t want to do, I try really hard to consider what it’s about, when it’s not about me.

Alex and I had a conversation on Sunday about love. We agreed that within relationships (a term that encompasses friendships, I think), one occasionally/sometimes/often has to do undesirable things. My initial reaction to doing something I don’t want to do is stubborn. I kick and pout, and bitch like a whiny child. My new secondary reaction is the consideration that maybe this isn’t about me. Maybe this is a pretty basic epiphany building on another fairly simple life lesson. Sometimes, it isn’t about you – and that means that sometimes you do things that you don’t want to do because it brings joy to the people that you love. Maybe it means learning to find joy in the things that you hate (like washing dishes or giving hugs) for the sake of other people. And maybe it means learning to do those things without seeking the joy in them. Maybe this post serves as a self-reminder to be more giving and open with other people. Maybe this post is a reminder that sometimes people do things for me, out of love, and I just have to let them.

PS: When I write something this brilliant out of an amazing revelation, I take away a little bit of my grown-uppery by wanting to jump up and down and scream, “Hey you! You! Hey! Look how grown-up I am!”