Most of us, if we are open-minded, are aware that aspects of our personalities and life-styles will change during our lifetime. Most of our preferences and personal labels remain relatively flexible throughout our lives.
(modest dress wearer, late to bed sleeper, one language per day singer, anything but black beans eater)
My open-mind and I are aware that, someday, I might eat black beans-and like them. (My taste-buds and I will hope not for now.)
But in addition to those preferences and choices are skills and challenges that most of us think will never change.
- I have tried to play the guitar five times and concluded each time that my fingers are to short for that s*&! (I don’t think my patience for the lack of stretch and dexterity in my fingers will ever change. Nor will my motivation to get past it.)
- I have a strong sense of cardinal direction. (Please, Lord, let this never change.)
- The easiest way for a conversation to be smooth and seamless is to have it while walking. (Right? that’s what everyone thinks, right? 😉
Those skills and challenges, which are obviously intricately linked with our personal experience of the world, get listed alongside our personal labels
(no stringed instruments player, direction giver, only while moving conversationalist)
When I go to a yoga class, for example, I carry my mat and my “yoga-identity” hand in hand.
(Crazy good arm-stander, comfortable upside downer, embarrassingly tight-calved downward dogger, extra set of salutations practicer, friendly before but not after class talker)
One of the striking presumptions of my yoga-identity is that this chick has never been able to wrap her foot around her calf when sitting cross-legged and thus would never be able to do the lower half of “Eagle.”
Last week, however, when we were practicing Eagle Pose, my instructor casually said “you’re almost there, next time you’ll have it.” I scoffed. I wasn’t even going to attempt. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I got home I decided to try to get my foot to wrap. After much contorting and stretching, and treating my legs like objects outside of my body, I wrapped my foot around my calf. Suddenly, it seemed possible that my legs might slip into Eagle easily one day.
Maybe my calves will change enough for my heels to touch the floor in the first downward facing -dog of the day. Maybe I’ll hold a crazy arm stand long enough to realize that it’s really hard. Maybe I’ll be able to mentally envision every single vertebrae in my spine in my Linklater training. Maybe singing a bright “ah” vowel in the middle range won’t always mean that I have to be wary of too much muscle tension.
This realization shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, my feet and arms have changed dramatically since I started to practice yoga. PLUS, the inspiration for this blog came from the fact that my vocal type and the way I approach singing (after years of study) could be uprooted and drastically changed. In most respects, I am far too young to be “set in my ways.” I haven’t even established a timeline for the next five years of my life. I can’t say honestly “always” or “never” with any certainty.
It seems, however, that the areas of my life that don’t require active pursuit towards progress, somehow have been mentally capped off and permanently settled at their last test result.
Here’s to proving the mind’s evaluations wrong.