…but the real winning is in having the courage to get wet.
Bhagavan Das once told me ‘Life is messy, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and get into it!” It was all I needed to hear at the time, to dive back in to living. I’d been in Amsterdam for seven years, and in that moment at my local yoga studio, I found myself sinking. I had all but disengaged from my job and social life; I was lonely, and my family were thousands of miles away. Then, there was that prognosis: ten years to liver failure. I kept replacing the last bit with ‘death’, because that is what liver failure meant to me at the time. How did I want to spend my days? What was my purpose? These questions were too overwhelming for me to process; as a result I checked out of life, when really what I needed to do was get more into it.
Seventeen years, one liver transplant later, and I will never forget that moment with this very magical yogi. He reminded me to not be afraid of making mistakes, to be bold and to get to work, in whatever way I could to make something positive of my life. And you know what? He was right. Life is messy. There are a million details that might get in the way from trying something new, from trusting a stranger, from daring to venture into un-chartered waters, from acknowledging goodness. After all, these are the moments that tend to be the most surprising, refreshing, disruptive, painful and real, and incidentally, also be the most life-affirming. Fear is our biggest weight, it holds us in the darkness of misunderstanding, whilst confronting it with action and bravery creates upheaval and porousness, making way for lightness.
It’s true, sometimes things sink, and sometimes they swim. But most creative people will tell you the biggest successes and innovations came by accident, in play, when they weren’t afraid.
There is nothing like a life threatening situation to remind us that life is short. When the sun is setting (and it will, for all of us), how will you look back on your time here? That time is comprised of today, yesterday, and all of the days before. Life is unfolding in this instant, but how easily we are almost never present to experience it. We instead spend the majority of our time escaping back to memories and forward into projections. Our mind is constantly being pushed and pulled out of this moment. But this moment! This is yoga. It is happening now. All you have to do is roll up your sleeves and dive in.
atha yoga anushasanam : yoga sutra 1.1
now this is yoga, as exhibited by the natural world
be here now