On the Fluidity of Essentials

Stability has proven to be an elusive thing.

In the last two weeks, every time I’ve felt that things have finally settled down and that I can slowly return to much cherished habits and routines, something will happen to disrupt the fledgling sense of peace. There was a moment not too long ago, for instance, when I said that I’d finally resumed my daily blog writing and daily Ashtanga practice. That lasted for all of two days before the universe cheerfully handed me another can of proverbial worms.

All of this has made me reflect on the cliché that it’s during challenging times that one discovers what truly matters. In my experience, it’s not as straightforward as the platitude would have it. What’s essential is often a matter of negotiation; times of distress merely intensify the conflict. In the last two month, I’ve often found my stated values at odds with the priorities of the moment. For instance, I’ve discovered that I will choose paying the bills, sleeping and finding comfort in food over writing, practicing yoga and choosing food for its nutritional value.

(Which leads to this discovery: much of the suffering we experience in challenging times comes from the self-flagellation that arises when we discover how easily we abandon our stated ideals. Grace in falling apart is constituted by falling apart without this customary masochism. Which leads to this other discovery: very, very, few people fall gracefully apart.)

So what’s to be learned from all this?

I’m not very sure, but perhaps it’s a not very subtle call for me to stop trying so hard to find secure footing—and to finally learn how to live with the rug continuously pulled out from under my feet.

Which simply means: I’ve got a long, long, way to go.



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