“You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step,” a very intelligent and wise woman said to me last weekend.
She’s often saying that nothing is ever black and white and things are always changing. I concur.
Admittedly, I’m really bad with change. I enjoy participating in different activities, meeting new people and I can even say that I’ll try most things at least once, but for the most part I’m a tip-one-toe-in-the-pool-and-feel-it-out kind of person. I like to know what’s going to happen: in life, in movies, in books, everything. I’m the worst person to watch a movie with because I tend to talk through the whole thing. I get so worked up about what’s going to happen in the end that I have to talk myself -- and others, whether they like it or not -- through it. I like to know that I’m doing “the right thing” before I do anything, which can be a really big hindrance in so many ways; every once and a while, though, you hear something that just totally pushes you off the proverbial cliff. At this point I can’t remember where I read it, but I posted the following quote from Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt a few weeks ago:
“Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference.”
Amazing, right? It’s true.
I can’t say that I’m not adventurous and I’m surely not one of those people who need others to accompany me if I want to go somewhere or do something, but, like most people, I do have this little cardboard box that I tend to fight with. Limitations are good -- we see the benefits of limitations in everything from theology to governmental policies -- but sometimes we have to punch a hole in the box.
This year, I took a fairly large stab at breaking through my conditioning by participating in an eight-month long yoga teacher training at the studio where I began my love-affair with (hot) vinyasa yoga. (Yes, hot yoga, as in dripping sweat next to a stranger in a 90-degree room and hoping their sweat doesn’t get on you … or that you don’t accidently fall completely on top of them.) There was no forethought about doing the training, really. I just had one of those I have to do this moments. I saw the fliers and just knew that it was something that I had to do. I’d previously looked into what yoga teacher trainings entail, but I never thought about participating in one. It just so happened, however, that I had planned to take a trip to New York the first weekend the group was supposed to meet, so even though I was moved to participate, I hadn’t planned on doing something this involved this year. As the date of the trip drew near, a few things were still uncertain, and a little voice said, “If this trip doesn’t work out, take the training.” The trip didn’t work out, I called the owner of the studio the next morning and now I’m here, four months in. In September, I’m going to take a really big leap and teach a donation-based “community” class of strangers -- yikes!
I’ve never seriously considered teaching anything, especially not yoga, but the teaching part of it has grown on me. I do remember telling my mother that I would teach, but I told her that just so she wouldn’t freak out about how much money I spent on the program. My sole purpose for taking the class in the beginning was to gain a better understanding of the philosophy and history of yoga and how to sequence my own practice sessions. My passion for yoga kind of snuck up on me, but even before I jumped into the teacher training, I knew it would be a lifelong practice. There’s a lot of wisdom behind it; much more than the physical practice to which most people refer.
I don’t know if I’ll start teaching right away, but I think my plan is to start teaching one class within six months of finishing the program. I don’t know where it will take me, if I’ll be effective, or the answer to any of the typical questions that come up when you start questioning why you took a leap of faith, but I don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.