May 29, 2014

The Measure of Success: A Lesson From My Demons. ~ Lynn Bonelli

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Sweat’s running down my back as my legs tremble from holding Warrior I for what seems an eternity.

A sense of dread overcomes me as we move into our next pose—half-moon—the one I always fall out of.

I want to quit—or cry. The demons start their chant:

“You’re not built to be a yogi.”

“What a joke, you don’t seriously think you can be a teacher, do you?!”

“You’re too fat, too inflexible.”

“You’re going to fail.”

“Just quit already.”

I start to believe them, and while I struggle into what can only be called Wounded Pigeon pose, my mind tells me to quit. I want to fold into Child’s pose and disappear for the remainder of class, chalking up another failed attempt to become “someone.”

“when you walk, you look like you’re trying to disappear.
your back is gonna be fucked up.
why do you think change is so hard? is it because you’re afraid?
people might think you’re pretty, but they’ll never love you.
you talk like you’re apologizing for your own voice.”

~ Caitlyn Siehl

I’m sitting at my computer, the cursor blinking against the white screen, taunting me. I am working on a story to submit—except the story won’t come and so the demons start their chant:

“You’re not a writer.”

“They will reject your story and tell you never to submit again.”

”No one wants to hear what you have to say.”

“You’re going to fail.”

“Just quit already.”

I start to believe them and I close my page thinking, “I’ll just check Facebook or my email for a bit—maybe read some blogs for inspiration,” knowing that the voices are probably right. Who am I to think I can write?

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job; it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

~ Neil Gaiman

These little bastards have an insatiable appetite, devouring my best intentions and chugging my self-esteem like a college kid shot-gunning cheap beer. And it seems they have made themselves at home somewhere in my psyche. They are squatters—they don’t even pay rent.

When my father died four years ago from a head-on automobile accident, I came across one of his journals. Our relationship had been strained so it felt like a betrayal to read his personal and private thoughts, but I needed to read them, I needed a connection, I needed to understand this man who was my father.

What I got was so much more.

I read about a man who doubted himself, his accomplishments, his successes and his looks while embracing—whole-heartedly—his failures. I read that his biggest disappointment in life wasn’t me, it was himself. This, coming from the man I thought was brilliant. Who earned a master’s degree after dropping out of school in the eighth grade.

Yet here were his words echoing my own demons, saying how much he hated his lips, which were beautiful and full—the same lips he passed down to me. How he felt he had disappointed his family and failed in his career even though he was a decorated and successful Air Force officer.

At any given moment, I question my abilities and diminish my accomplishments as if I am unworthy.

Failures are amplified and successes are chalked up to sheer luck. And while it’s possible I inherited this trait from my father, who got it from his father, who probably got it from his father, finding his journal was not only a way to apply the brakes, it was a gift.

It was a gift of realization and self-healing, armor against the demons.

By reading that he had the same doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts as me, it became apparent I was not alone, and that the demons lie.

Through his writings, words I was never meant to see, he inadvertently helped me.

Until then, I had only seen my successes—and failures—as something measured by grades and awards, and later, “likes” and “view counts.” This led me to forget that true success isn’t always tangible.

I felt uncomfortable continuing to try to figure out this spiritual world of non-attachment and letting go of Ego.

Now I understand that success isn’t measured in dollars or popularity. It’s measured in the number of honest moments we share.

However insignificant they may appear and however painful or embarrassing they seem, these moments might have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

Achieving success can be hard. It requires facing our fears and the lies we create about ourselves. Things that come easy—that don’t scare the hell out of us or test our limits or make us question our sanity—aren’t the things that have the ability to change our lives or perspective.

Writing is hard.

Writing about personal experiences is terrifying—the world is full of critics. It exposes us in a way that makes us feel naked and alone. But it’s worse than being naked because it reveals our true soul—not just the flesh and blood. And every time I hit that “post” or “submit” button I feel like throwing up, but I’m learning to do it anyway.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

~ Albert Einstein

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Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Travis May

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