As some of you know, I broke my foot back in May. It was a hard couple of months. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t and I’m not going to lie to you. Looking back though, I learned a lot from the break. I made this video blog on the idea of surrendering.
Jeremy Sunkett, my best friend from 8th grade saw the video and sent me the following email. It was so beautiful and insightful that I wanted to share as I know some of you will relate to many of the things he says about identity. And yes, he calls me P. And yes, he is the same incredible soul that wrote this.
Good stuff P. What occurred to me when I was watching this is that many times our reactions to certain circumstances or life events are not about what we might initially think they are about. I often find myself saying, “It’s not about what it’s about.”
Your reaction to your broken foot, which had you wading into the shallow waters of depression, wasn’t about the physical injury–it was about the way your mind perceived that injury and what the injury came to represent.
Your work isn’t just your ‘job’, it’s really a vocation and I believe it’s a way for you to navigate–and, at times, simply cope with–life. Being incredibly busy helps prevent you from getting stuck, because when you get stuck you run the risk of sinking–into depression and the dark thoughts, self-doubt and despair that it can induce. You get an enormous amount of satisfaction from the love and validation that you receive from your “tribe,” which has helped to fill what was once a huge void in your life. You haven’t always been able to love yourself enough and feel independently validated and not being able to do your thing (teach, preach and reach) compromises your ability to access those feelings in the way that you want and need to and to spread the love that you want to spread.
You and this tribe have what seems to be a beautifully symbiotic relationship and I can see how a broken foot could be seen as somehow compromising that, but I’m glad that you came back to what you know. For some of us, our identities are very much bound up in the work that we do and when we’re not able to work we don’t feel useful and this might cause us to question who we are if we’re not doing the work. You broke your foot and you went from being the “Oprah of Yoga” (I’m trademarking this!) who travels the world empowering and healing people to some wounded bird that couldn’t even help herself. “Who am I if I’m not teaching?” “What am I doing if I’m stuck in this place and not seeing the world?” “Will everyone still be there when I get back? And, if they’re not there, did they ever really need me or appreciate me at all?”
I can imagine that your injury might have caused you to ask such questions, and this is further proof that it’s not about what it’s about. It’s not about your foot, it’s about your mind and your spirit.
So you didn’t use the time to write (I was one of those annoying people suggesting that the injury might create an opportunity to do so)–that’s okay, because you obviously used the time to heal and that’s what you needed. Truthfully, I only suggested writing because I thought it might be therapeutic, but if you were able to heal your mind while your body was healing in some other way than I’m just as happy. You might not have written, but you did use the time to be introspective and understand what was really going on.
Introspection helps you gain perspective and this is the key to understanding what’s really happening with us–what it’s really about.
It sounds like you got in touch with the fact that it wasn’t just about your foot and, in fact, maybe it wasn’t about your foot at all but what the injury represented. You unpacked those feelings, sorted them out and made some sense of it all.
Was it about your foot or your identity and how that relates to your feelings of self-worth? Was it a reminder of our fragility and the weight of that reality? Or was it a reaction to real or perceived external pressure to be the person others expect us to be? Whatever the case, you healed mentally and physically by getting in touch and–my guess–recognizing that it wasn’t about what it was about and going deeper.
Acknowledging that it’s not about what it’s about is a form of surrender that can liberate us from whatever shackles (or casts, or boots, etc.) we’re in and that kind of liberation is a special blessing and truly life-affirming.
“Forget your troubles and dance!
Forget your sorrows and dance!
Forget your sickness and dance!
Forget your weakness and dance!” – Bob Marley, “Them Belly Full”
Keep dancing… JRS
He’s right though. That kind of liberation is life-affirming. You ready?
Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat: On Being Human in Ojai, California over Labor Day as well as New Years. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you (Dallas, NYC, Seattle, Atlanta etc,). Follow Jen on instagram/twitter at @jenpastiloff. Jen is the guest speaker 3 times a year at Canyon Ranch and leads an annual retreat to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She is the founder of the popular The Manifest-Station blog.
Image courtesy of Simplereminders.com