There is an exercise I use with my students early on in the semester. It is a way for me to show them proof that they have a unique voice and that they look at things differently than everyone else around them. For this exercise, I use the blackout poetry form. I cut out an article from the newspaper and copy it. I hand out the exact same article to all the students in the class. I show them examples of blackout poetry, and then I ask them to create their own poem using the article I gave them. Afterward, I have each student read what they came up with. I have not had any students come up with the same poem. I use this as a concrete example of their own unique perspective and voice. They were all looking at the same set of words, but each of them saw those words differently. What spoke to one student did not speak to another. This is important when teaching them how to write a research paper because oftentimes they believe they have nothing to add to the conversation that already exists on their chosen topic. It is also an important reminder to them and to me that we are unique, each one of us, that we look at things from a unique perspective, and that is why we should never be fearful of voicing our perspective to others and listening to their perspective as well. We all see things differently and we should embrace that difference and let it motivate us to overcome our fear of sharing our voice with others.
I am taking part in this new project on binduwiles.com called 21.5.800. Participants write 800 words per day for the 21 days and do yoga for 5 out of each 7 days. Since I have just begun doing Yoga again after taking a few years off and since I really need to get back to the daily writing routine I seem to never have managed to keep up, I think this is a fabulous project to partake in. For more information visit binduwiles.com.
I took my son to the park today, as I do most days, for a run. We usually run intervals and he has been working towards expanding his running time, but he’s having trouble doing it. He has set markers for where he starts to run and where he stops and has been unable to go past those limitations he set for himself. I explained to him that he psyches himself out when he sees the boundaries he has set for himself and tells himself that he cannot go any further. It is not a physical thing because when he mentally makes the decision to run further he can do it with no problem, but when he lets his mind take over all the sudden he cannot make it a step past those boundaries. I started to think how profound this insight is into how we live our lives. We set boundaries or someone else does for us and we limit ourselves by saying that is as far as we can go. What we don’t see is the miraculous world that awaits us just beyond the boundary line. How many times have we not done something we really wanted to do because we did not believe we were good enough to step past the limitations we set for ourselves? How many times have we stopped just short of fulfilling our dreams that waited just beyond the boundary line that we set for ourselves because we could not take a leap of faith past what we could see? We psych ourselves out, telling ourselves we are not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough, important enough, and the plethora of other reasons why we cannot step outside of that safe zone. I have done this my whole life, stayed within the boundary lines of what I know terrified to step over that line because I cannot see what’s there. I conjured up all kinds of crises that could occur – losing everything, being rejected, failing, but not once did I conjure up a vision of success and fulfillment of my dream. And so, I have stayed stuck running in circles, flailing, desperate for an escape, but too afraid to do anything about it. In summary, I have been miserable.
I let fear stop me just as I was about to fulfill my dream of going to law school two years ago. I was admitted to seven laws schools some of them with lucrative scholarships and one into an elite program that only admitted three students per year. I stopped at the boundary line I had created and because I could not see past it, I was paralyzed to move forward. I could not take the leap of faith and trust that all the loose ends would work themselves out. Now that I have applied for law school again, I feel those same fears rising up in me. I cannot get all the logistics to work out – i.e. I cannot control everything and have it all preplanned. Going to law school will require a significant move and I am already coming up with all the reasons I should not make such a move. I am having an extremely hard time conjuring up visions of a successful transition to the new town and into law school. But, this time I am trying. I am envisioning a “Congratulations” rather than a “We regret to inform you.” But I’m still so unsure of all that I cannot see. One thing I have learned, though, is that if I feel like I want to throw up it is usually the right decision to make. If it is easy, and doesn’t elicit a strong reaction from me, it is usually the easy, safe way out.
Someone asked me how I manage to do all the things I do with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s all in the mind. A few months ago I could not even walk a half of a mile without being in excruciating pain for several days afterwards. I went to my doctor and told her I used to run six miles a day and now I can barely walk. She said, don’t worry, you will be able to do that again someday. It was something I hadn’t thought of before. I had always looked at what I had lost not what could be accomplished again. So, I started to tell myself that I was not going to let these illnesses define who I was or what I did. Yes, I am in a lot of pain, but it is only pain. I am not going to die from this pain and therefore I must continue to live. I have started slowly and had some setbacks, but I have begun doing yoga, walking, and even strength training again. I have made the decision to not let the pain rule or ruin my life. I will walk through it. I will lift through it. I will continue to follow my passion through it. If it wants to stick around it will have to catch up to me because I will be long gone living the life I choose for myself.
A side note: Today in my yoga practice I worked on visualizing my core. My core is solid and strong. I see it as stainless steel. Things that are false slide right off of it and only truth sticks like a magnet. This visualization has allowed me to decipher truth when chaos ensued because when I focus and connect to my inner core truth is all that is left. Everything else has slid away and been released.
from the demons
lurking in the darkness
invading my dreams
would grant me wings to
soar beyond the confines
of these four impenetrable walls.
*Day 18 of the 2010 April PAD Challenge.