Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
Is It Later Yet? Inner Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOANNA HELLER
Since my first art history class in 1970, I have been wanting to see Siena.
Take such a grand trip then? I saw no way. Really limited money, two young children, single parent. Later, I told myself.
So is it later yet? My children are grown and on their own … for decades already, truth be told. In fact, they are older now than I was then. I have been retired from teaching for more than a decade and my pension seems secure. My rainy day savings are sitting there and I ‘m not sure if it is raining or not. Yoga and art and writing have taken the place of teaching and parenting. So?
Uncertain times / uncertain of time
Why have I still not gone on one of those delicious sounding yoga workshops in Tuscany?
My immediate inner voice, unfortunately a loud and most persistent one, turns on the warning. Don’t chip away at those meager savings. One day you will be less able and you will need those dollars. Another voice appears, smarter, I think, but quieter and more tentative, says that is exactly the reason I should see Tuscany now.
Now while I still am able, able enough to enjoy walking the streets, wandering, meandering, sitting down on a rock and watching a wider world go by.
So returning to the big question …do it now or …
What exactly would I be waiting for? Who knows?
A cautious life
If you want to do it, do it … make a bucket list … life is not a rehearsal … All that runs through me.
All those years of being careful to take care of tomorrow have taken their terrible toll. I’ve forgotten how to do today!
I just heard a news item about a British comedian who was told he had three months to live. He apparently wrote out his bucket list, spent all his money checking off the items and then discovered the diagnosis was wrong. He was not dying after all. I missed most of the interview but I did see that he’s glad he’s alive and he does not regret spending all his money. Although he has changed to another doctor.
You’d think this would be a pretty good lesson for me and my inner voices.
More living for the day that is here now, less worrying for the unknown tomorrow. Eat the last orange today if I really want it. I coped today, I will cope tomorrow. See, I even try to stretch the last piece of fruit or bit of leftovers in case I might want them more tomorrow.
Ridiculous, I know.
Do it now
Always eating the older bread first means you never get to eat fresh bread …
I have spent my life being really that careful. Don’t spend it today. Don’t wear it today, don’t finish it today, you might need it more tomorrow. So important to save for a rainy day.
Well actually, it has already rained more than a few times … So, was one of those days the rainy day? Has later arrived yet? No one ever told me how to recognize later when it knocks. They forgot that part of the story.
Pema Chodron has said, “Death is certain. The time of death is uncertain. What is the most important thing?”
Pema, I hope you don’t mind but I must add to this. Change itself is also certain. A change in health and energy is certain. The time of the change in health and energy is uncertain.
So…what in heaven’s name am I waiting for?
What is the most important thing?
I know I don’t want to just keep walking carefully, ever more slowly, ever more carefully, trying to skirt trouble and never reaching out for things and places I love and have seen only in books and museums. What a horrible waste that would be – to wait until walking the hills of Tuscany seems like way more than I am able to do.
To miss the whole experience because I never said, “let’s do it now” …
So how about that yoga week in Tuscany?
That’s it. Next trip is ours. Of course I know that next year the voice with the strength of its years will still live and I’ll have a fight on my hands. I win only when I say, “OK, later is here now. It has arrived.
Dig out the passport. Make the reservations.” Forget the possible rainy day tomorrow. Let’s not lose the sunshine today.
I’ll let you know.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.