I regularly go to two yoga classes each week that are at different levels of difficulty. Before the Advanced Beginner class, I feel excited and happy. I know I’ll be able to handle each pose and do it well. My hamstrings will be screaming, but I’ll feel good about my movement through the flow. Before the Intermediate class, I’m usually a little nervous, wondering if I’ll be able to do what will be asked of my body. There will be some discomfort – and even frustration – as we work through suspended poses (two arms hold up everything else) or split poses (self-explanatory, ouch) or inverted poses (upside down can feel like inside out).
After the easier class I feel strong; after the tougher class, I feel brave.
That nagging inner voice of mine, the one that thinks it knows what’s best for me, constantly urges me to push myself and take two Intermediate classes instead of this mix. You’re not getting much out of the easier class anyway, it taunts, and imagine how much more quickly you’d progress! If I think too much about it, I find myself scanning the class schedules and seeing what else I’d need to rearrange to fit this “more appropriate” class into my work and life schedule.
Then I return to how I feel, not what I think. These two classes, together, make me feel brave and strong. If every class were challenging, being brave would be tempered by a sense of weakness because I wouldn’t be able to support myself consistently throughout the class. I would keep pushing to make it tougher and tougher, and my strength would never catch up to my aspirations. If it was all manageable, I’d feel powerful, but never very proud of myself. I would know I’d taken the easy route, and I would hardly grow.
My journey to find my writing voice and tell my story has this same exquisite tension woven into it. Some activities make me feel strong, like finding the perfect word or image, or figuring out some technical widget for the site, or coming up with a new idea to grow the MWC community. It doesn’t feel like work, even though each of those tasks is about doing.
Other acts take courage, like deciding to write what I think and feel, or coming to terms with what I discover through my writing, or publishing my words for anyone to see. These things are a reach for me, and they don’t come easily. I have to let go and maintain my balance even when I sense that my foundations have shifted.
When writing gets a little scary – when my words go out into the world in search of readers – I scurry back to my safe place, to the comfort of rearranging sentences and checking off to-do list items. It’s there that I find the fortitude to attempt unfamiliar and courageous postures. As I build my strength, it becomes easier to move beyond the standard pose of thinker and doer and to embody a creator.