Thursday, October 13, 2011
How’s life treating you, NIP?
Well, I hope. If I were facing my current circumstances about 3 years ago, I probably would have had a meltdown by now. Life has been throwing just about everything possible at me the last few weeks and I sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up the juggling without dropping something. In the last month my grandmother has passed, we found out that one of our dogs is terminally ill, we lost one of the feral cats we have taken care of for the last 3 years, and school has been out of control with formal observations, evaluations, trying to keep up with my new courses…the list could go on forever. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar in your life at some point, NIP, which is why I feel this letter’s subject is so crucial. Even in the midst of life’s most hectic stretches of time, we must still continue to better ourselves. Though it may be more difficult to fit in that quality time to develop ourselves, we must find a way to keep building our momentum.
This past summer was quite a high point in my recent life; I got to spend nearly every single moment with my best friend and lovely wife, Erin. Being that we’re both teachers and have the essentially the same schedule, most summers have offered us this opportunity. And when you add in our long daily yoga practices together, I felt as if we grew tremendously as both individuals and a couple. We both approached the new academic year with excitement and energy, but quickly realized after a few weeks of school that this year was going to be challenging. Between the new classes for me and Erin’s new students, we were initially overwhelmed. After a few weeks it seemed to be getting better, but Mémère’s passing marked the beginning of the tumultuous times that Erin and I have been facing. And yet as crazy as some of the days have been, I always manage to find some small victory among the rubble of chaos. That’s the secret, NIP; always be on the lookout for the tiny accomplishments that propel you in the direction of that better person you want to become.
While the transformations we seek in ourselves will not happen instantly, they are worth the struggle. The important thing is to never quit on your personal growth, to keep striving toward that better person you know you are capable of becoming. Over time you’ll discover that as you chip away at your magnum opus, your life’s work of art, the image that begins to emerge from the stone will drive you even more. As anyone who has ever created anything will tell you—whether created through words, paint, music, wood, plants, whatever—that moment of creation when you begin to see the results of your dedication and diligence is incredibly gratifying. It is the same with our personal development; in those moments when we realize we were more patient or generous or whatever other quality you’ve tried to cultivate, it is a victory over our old ways, our old selves. And it is precisely these moments that allow us to build momentum. Just as the word implies, the more momentum we generate, the easier it is to move forward in with our undertaking of becoming the best of who we are.
As we continue to build this momentum in our lives, it has a hidden benefit of which I was completely unaware until these past few weeks. When life gets out of control, the momentum we’ve built holds us steady internally. We may be slogging along to some degree through life on the outside, but the momentum we’ve harnessed gives us the energy and perseverance to see us through to another day, to keep striving toward that ceaseless goal of discovering the best of who we are. By being aware of even the most minute of personal victories, this keeps that momentum churning. And so long as that momentum churns, we have enough energy in reserve to press on in our quest. Life may have a way of dampening our spirits when there is so much to do in so little time, but we must be sure to take time and check in with ourselves. Even if it is just by stopping for five minutes to close our eyes and do some deep breathing, it helps. The momentum that is built in better times will inevitably carry you through the difficult ones, NIP. Our inner fire will blaze at times, smolder during others. The important thing is that we are mindful of the fire—and stoke it when necessary to keep it burning.
Keep building your momentum, NIP…