Monday, August 17, 2009

Losing Your Way on the Ride to a Fabulous Life

Recently, a friend called to tell me he had made a mistake in choosing his current job role. In the same week, a female friend of many years shared a multiple-martini conversation about how she felt unhappy and unsure of her relationship of many years, despite being on the cusp of signing a mortgage with her partner. Another friend discussed frustration with her current job situation but feels trapped due to economic conditions. The brown spots on the banana of life continue to reveal themselves to us, ironically without a knife handy to slice them off.

Yogis repeat a common mantra from Sanskrit: "Satnam." It translates (generally) to "Truth is My Identity." What that means for each individual of practice is different, as truth is, well, a matter of perspective. Basically, what you feel, what you do, what you believe - these are the important factors that define you, which you might find, at some point, find to be in direct opposition to your current career path, lover of choice, or lifestyle. Satnam is a respite, a way for a person to vacation from the perfectionist tendencies, 3-5 year plans, or pressured obligations from those we love. It is, in essence, a "Get Real" moment of Yogic practice that can be incorporated into even the most Capitalist, Ambitionist, Western sort of lifestyle.

Sometimes, I have found myself reading novels, quickly anticipating the ending, or how I would expect the novel and its characters to reveal themselves. When they fail to follow the course I have charted, I have found myself less impressed, but more disappointed. Why, oh why, would the author have deviated down a path I never saw. I am educated, a critical reader, and emotionally intelligent. It seems counter intuitive - should not I, as a Westerner, so immersed in that which follows the formulaic course, revel in the art of surprise or deviation from the norm?

The truth is more basist than I'd like to admit. We like to control. Actually, we thrive on control, on the art of feeling like we are gods of our own lives, masters of our own universes. Rather than delight in a large surprise or unexpected turn of events, it makes us uncomfortable, irritable, dismissive of new pathways. We feel that our internal GPS has led us astray.

Yet, the truth of our lives is defined solely by us. A literary hero of mine, Salman Rushdie, recently spoke of memory and its importance to our lives. To grossly paraphrase, we recall things, not as they were, but as we choose to recall them, making history a scrapbook fuzzy photos and clever annotations, but not ever really a scientific book of truth. Yet, and yet, that is as it should be. Everyone, especially during difficult times (economic or otherwise), will eventually airbrush the experience to a Sophia Patrillo, "Picture this, Sicily, 1925..." type of story.

Regardless of the degree that you feel you have veered off-course, reconnecting with yourself can be the best way to re-navigate the path of life. Take a breath, take a moment, take all the time you need, in fact, because we have only one life, and, as it happens, it is an open road.

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