On Questions, Not Answers


It's been a while. And by a while, I mean basically six months. What's funny is that as I write this, I can't believe it's been that long. I cannot believe the way that my life has taken shape since I've last written in this feels-so-short, but was pretty-damn-long period of time. I cannot believe how much my perspective has shifted since I last wrote. I feel like a different human. I am a different human, and that's a good thing.

The truth is, I could have written something here in the past sixth months, but I wasn't ready yet. I had left so much build up in my last blog post that I intimidated myself from entering my own safe space. Think about that for a second: how many times in your life have you put so much expectation for the future, that you can no longer move forward? Take a breath and moment to reflect on that, especially before you enter this new year. Stop with the resolutions, the self-expectations, the diets, the material items, and just remember that you are fine just as you are. You will figure it out in time. Set intentions that feed your soul. Be okay with them when them don't go as planned. Be okay with things not being okay. Know that nothing is permanent. Sit with it. Even when it sucks to sit with it.

For the first several months of my new journey that tendency had pretty much halted me in place. The whole "The Year of Challenging Fear" thing in my last blog post, left me more fearful than ever. Why you might ask? Because we can only reflect on our journey in retrospect, we cannot control how to move forward. What I have found on the journey of the past several months is that the expectations I needed to take with me were much less than one might have thought. The intentions I had set, while powerful, were vastly striving towards perfectionism and leaning towards controlling my own experience. This however, is not only impossible, but fruitless. Sometimes even painful.

So, in an effort to let go of the "plan of action" I had created for myself that stifled me so, here is what I have actually learned that is much different from what I thought I would learn:

1. The subway/city is pretty damn easy to navigate with modern technology AKA get-the-fuck-out-of-your-head-Charlotte. I spent weeks, if not months worrying when I moved to New York about going to new places out of fear I would get lost. In reality, who gives a shit if you get lost? It's the places you end up by mistake that are the most amazing. It's the days you choose to wander around alone without a destination that are the most productive. I spent more time battling myself, fabricating worry out of thin air, and hunkering down inside than I should have all because of the possibility I may mess up. And hasn't this proved true again and again in my life. Pay attention to yourself whenever you start to fall down the rabbit hole of "why not". Instead, ask yourself, "why yes". You will always find reasons not to do something, but the truth is, 90% of the time you should do it. (The other 10% you should not do for reasons that you probably already know, including, but not limited to: repeating past cycles that don't serve you, things that harm you, things that are life-threatening, things that don't bring you joy, things that numb you, things that are unhealthy, and all that other shitty stuff).

2. I needed to be a student again. A student of life. A student of yoga. A student of self. I thought I had it all figured out before I moved. I graduated college summa cum laude, got a master's degree, became a high school teacher, became a yoga teacher, thought I knew myself like the back of my hand, and thought I knew everything life had to teach me. Yeah, that's ridiculous I know. And if you had asked me six months ago if I felt that way, I would have denied it, but subconsciously I could not have been more unprepared for the massive changes I was going to undergo. When I moved to Brooklyn, I started a new teaching position at an alternative school in Bed Stuy and had to repurpose my skills to fit the needs of a new student population with a curriculum more driven around test prep (...don't get me started on the whole test prep thing). I started practicing yoga at all different studios looking for potential places to teach, and what I found, was that I didn't in fact want to teach any classes here (just yet- don't worry I still want to teach). Before I can seek more teaching in my life, I needed to feed my inner student. I needed to try more diverse yoga practices I hadn't experienced before, teachers that challenged me, mentally and physically. I need to work through the what I thought I knew, so that I can become a better teacher by not-knowing-so-damn-much. So I can be a better person by not-knowing-so-damn-much. So that I can know less, but learn more. So that I can trust more.

3. I still don't know where I am going and that's a good thing. I came here looking for answers and ended up with more questions. Questions about my dharma, about trust, about what truly serves me, about saying no to people in order to say yes to yourself, about selflessness, about life-and-death, about existence, about what home means, about where home is, about everything. In asking these difficult questions, I have learned more about myself than by seeking answers. In a yoga class this morning that I took with the amazing teacher, Kevin Tobar, we started off by having a conversation as a community about clarity. We determined that clarity is often only a fleeting feeling that we have to enjoy when its present, but not become attached to. It's okay to stay in the fog. We can navigate the fog. We have always navigated the fog. When we become too attached to the feeling of clarity, we become too self-righteous. I think I spent a lot of my time existing in that realm of seeking clarity to a point of self-righteousness. That's why subconsciously I felt that I knew all the answers. Now, I am left with all questions and it has never felt so good to be so unsure of where I am headed. It gives life infinitely more possibilities. Ones that I had once ruled out in an effort to control, to know, to always be in the role of the teacher. So here I am, re-entering the world from the perspective of the student. And you all, my readers, are part my teaching.

So here is your mission, your dharma if you will, to explore your unfolding sense of self this new year. Not from a point of resolution, or even intention, but from a place of the forever student. If you feel so inclined, write back to me. Tell me what it is that you learned this year that you did not expect to learn. Tell me what you failed at that brought you lessons, or questions. Tell me what questions you still have for yourself, for the world. Tell me where fear has held you back in the past year. Tell me "why yes". Even if you don't choose to send them in to me, just write them for yourself. Think about all the reasons why you should write this for yourself and no one else.

Wishing you love and exploration through the next year,

Charlotte


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