08 May 2006

The Fools of Mastery

As I was falling out of tree pose into a reposing heap of sweating, out of breath, and terribly embarrassed humanity, I thought “dammit I shouldn’t have pushed myself so far in the pose. I need to go slower.” I looked around at the forest of trees around me, many wavering in the wind of their own balancing insecurities but not being blown down. I was the only downed tree.

A mild digression, my dad taught me to ski when I was four. Well, taught might be the wrong way to put it. He strapped those old wooden boards around my galoshes, carried me to the top of the slope (it was not a hill, more of a mole hill) in the plains of Minnesota, and pushed me. Down the hill I careened before falling in a heap of sweating, out of breath and terribly embarrassed kiddie humanity. I didn’t say dammit but I probably would if I’d known the word.

Once I learned to ski relatively well, my dad would always ask me at the end of a skiing day if I’d fallen down. If I hadn’t, he’d say that “well, then you didn’t improve today.” Meaning that you can’t improve if your not willing to risk falling down, making a fool of your self, embarrassing your children, and likely scaring the horses as well.

If Dad’s point is correct, I am learning a lot in my yoga classes these days.

Its funny isn’t, that to become a master, you must first appear foolish at that very thing.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

- William Shakespeare

So next time you are on the mat or strolling through life, and you fall down in the snow, and you feel its cold embarrassment trickling down into your pants, just wisely remind yourself that you are foolishly on your way to mastery, and carry on.

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