A few weeks ago, exhausted by the frustration of balancing visa problems, a heavy workload, and my overwhelming expectations for myself, I pathetically exclaimed: "I don't even want to be remarkable anymore; I just want it to be less difficult to live a completely normal life."
Sometimes life will ebb and flow so gently that you barely notice the presence of circumstance, and other times it will crush you with never-ending waves of mediocrity that make you want to become smaller and smaller in the hopes that life, the universe, whoever is sending all this bullshit your way will stop noticing you.
We have to somehow learn to bloom when life makes us want to shrink. This is the key to enjoying ourselves: we cannot become beaten down; we must not become smaller.
In the above photo, I'm doing Vriksasana or Tree Pose. It doesn't look difficult but it's actually surprisingly difficult to keep your balance in this pose. It becomes harder when you close your eyes and raise your arms, spreading them out, and allow your back to bend. Our natural reaction when things become unsteady is to quickly reach for something certain. Sometimes that means reaching for the ground instead of the sky.
In tree pose, I'll lose balance because I feel too big, too exposed, and I immediately try to become as small as possible. I find safety in smallness. So in life, when circumstance becomes more than I think I can bear, I become smaller.
Which, surprisingly, isn't a reaction that's beneficial.
Wanting to be less remarkable or smaller doesn't make any sense. Life is still going to bring it's challenges, you're just not going to have the energy to overcome them. The thing about becoming smaller is that you allow everything else to be bigger than you are. Exhaustion is guaranteed; you can't spend all your time fighting giants, sometimes you've got to be the giant.
Which means being big in your own life, and that translates into bending but never, ever breaking.
In tree pose, you want to be as solid as a tree, deeply rooted in the ground, but you also want the wind to be able to sway your branches. It's the same in life. We have to be deeply grounded in ourselves but we cannot be rigid because we'll snap under pressure. Being rigid in your expectations for yourself or your hopes for life won't allow you to remain intact when change comes. Change requires flexibility in us, and if we don't possess that we break. We become tired and worn down. We surrender.
But that's not our calling. It's never our calling to become smaller; it's always required of us to grow bigger. To bend without breaking.
How can you bend instead of break in your own life?