Let The Great World Spin: Sometimes No Challenge is the Best Challenge
Posted on September 7, 2012
This will probably be the only time I publish a post without a photo; I’m such a visual person that the notion is strange. But words can (and in most cases, do) stand on their own. I survived my photo-free long weekend. I thought I would feel anxious and adrift, some of my friends even joked about withdrawal kicking in. But, surprisingly, I was fine. Leaving my camera at home meant giving myself permission to gaze at dry desert hills and vast lakes and stand in awe under a bright blue moon without the usual impulse to take all of it with me. My trip was moment to moment, laugh to laugh, one wine glass to the next (and the next). It was wonderful.
I take a class called Restorative Yoga: it’s a lot of stretching and massaging and opening up stiff, sore muscles. We don’t do any crazy, challenging poses in the class. What we do, really, is focus on letting go. The other day, while we were lying in shavasana (corpse pose) my instructor said something that stuck with me:
“In other classes, we give you challenges so that you can beat them and feel better about yourself. Right now, there is no challenge. Sometimes we have to take all of the challenges away to realize that without challenge, life is still life.”
Sometimes we have to take all of the challenges away.
What’s going on in your life right now? Do you have a lot of tough stuff ahead of you? Self-imposed or work-imposed goals?
I’m currently training for a Fourteen Kilometer Super Spartan Obstacle Race. It’s intense and exhilarating and I’m often left tired and nursing shin splints at the end of the day. I’m pushing myself to run harder and longer than I’ve ever run before, to do more burpees and pull-ups and squats than I thought possible. It feels wonderful and horrible at the same time. I am growing stronger and more resilient, which is such a good thing. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in our goals, to allow them to define us.
Amidst all of that huffing and puffing (and swearing), I’m trying to make room for the calm, blank space, to keep in mind that without challenge, life is still life.
That’s what the photo-free long weekend was all about: letting go of the need to define my experiences through a series of perfect images. That’s why I changed my blogging schedule to once a week for the month of August: I was craving heat and restoration. Summer was a time to wipe the slate clean, to lie in the sun and just be.
And now, Labor day has passed, school is back in session, the evenings are getting cooler. And I’m beginning to feel the urge to scribble and scrawl on my slate, to get back to the nitty-gritty of work. But I’m hoping to take a bit of that feeling with me, to remember that there are fallow periods, times where rest and happiness are more important than being the most productive or the fastest.
Whatever your goals may be, if you fall short or have a bad day, the great world will keep on spinning. Let it. Don’t be afraid, now and then, to tune out all of the noise and just stand there, perfectly still.