I've had my license now for a little over 10 years. Getting my license was not an easy task for me. I went through 4 driving instructors and 5 failed tests before I passed. There were certainly drawbacks to this, but one of the distinct advantages was that I did a lot of driver training, and learned a lot of practical knowledge.
One thing that came up often was what to do to avoid a collision. Specifically, look where you want to go, not at the thing you are trying to avoid. That advice has worked well as I'm happy to say I've never really been in an accident (I have tapped my bumper on a parked car and dented my door on a cement post. Both times ... looking at what I was about to hit).
This lesson was a reality this week when I slid through the train parking lot this week, narrowly avoiding another driver, and somehow managing to cleanly park between two cars safely, though shaken.
What did I do? Well, prayed, held my breath, and looked ahead to the space I wanted to be in, rather than the cars on either side.
I hopped out of my car and was surprised when another commuter came over to say "good job". He was amazed that I'd pulled that off. Frankly, so was I.
The next night I went to yoga class. It was not an easy class. And, it was a class that had a lot of balance and strength poses. (or maybe they are the same. I'm not totally sure)
Midway through a pose I was struggling. I was looking in the mirror, just like the teacher instructed, except every time I looked at my reflection to balance, I would fall out of it. I was frustrated and annoyed, and sweaty, and kind of getting angry that he was making us hold something for so long.
The longer I stood and wobbled the more I was looking at myself. My shorts were too short and made my thighs look chubby. My upper body was fat not strong. My cheeks were red and I looked terrible with all my makeup washed off. The messy bun on my head was less yoga style and more disheveled. And the harder I tried the more impossible it seemed.
There was no inner peace and balance. No awesome breathe in breathe out release. Nothing. In fact, in the time we were holding it (a minute? two? twenty? ) I had pretty much decided that I needed to rethink this whole yoga thing.
Yep. I do make snap decisions.
Especially when I'm hating myself.
And then the teacher came over, helped me back to the proper position and said "look in the mirror and focus on your strength and beauty."
And he stood there, helping me find my balance.
I looked at myself again. For a moment I looked past the stuff I hate. I rooted my foot, I straightened my shoulders, and I looked at the strength in my eyes and my body. And then I let go of the body resentment. Not forever. But for that moment.
And I realized that this was no different than avoiding collisions. Look where you want to go, not at what you want to avoid.
I may never hit my beauty ideal. I'll never have a dancers thin limbs or the ability to tie my hair into a perfect messy bun. But I liked seeing that strength. For a moment I believed fully that I was strong and beautiful and capable.
So I kept going. I kept breathing. I smiled. I relaxed. And I made it through not only those poses but the entire plank series.
And I left realizing that every day I need to remember to focus on the good. Because although there are a million things I can run into on the collision course of life, I will look ahead at where I want to be. And hopefully that's exactly where I will end up.