Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: life (page 2 of 9)

Finding Safety in Fault

Just a few nights ago, I began reading a new book – A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Most notable: the author’s name: Sue Klebold. The mother of Dylan Klebold, of the 1999 Columbine tragedy. It’s challenging my idea that parents can be at fault for the actions of their children.

In the introduction, a journalist who met the Klebolds writes that one of two reasons we blame parents for the crimes of their children is, “because in supposing that, we reassure ourselves that in our own house, where we are not doing such wrong things, we do not risk this calamity.” He continues on, “I didn’t want to like the Klebolds, because the cost of liking them would be an acknowledgment that what happened wasn’t their fault, and if it wasn’t their fault, none of us is safe.” (Emphasis mine.)

Thankfully, because I keep a pretty compassionate FB friend group who are speaking avidly about considering the feelings of the poor mother who’s toddler escaped into the gorilla’s habitat, I’m hearing more of this spoken – even if we don’t all realize the underlying truth. If we can find cause and point blame, we mistakenly begin to believe that we’ll never run such risk.

It’s the same idea behind the study which recently found that people who considered themselves not a target for advertising were significantly more susceptible to buying from an advertisement. There’s folly in believing you will never be a victim.

Of course, living fearfully that everything will happen to you is it’s own brand of magical thinking. Both approaches to the world are convincing you that you’re someone special. As if who you are is an indicator of how life will treat you.  The temptation is to believe everything terrible will happen to you, or nothing terrible will.  The truth is, some of it could. And those are the only guarantees we get.

Blaming others, finding the reason, reducing complex situations down to simple solutions won’t save you from tragedy. Perhaps learning from tragedy will save us from history repeating itself, which is its own gift, and one we can turn to for comfort. Finding someone to take the fall will rarely insure our own safety, though it often feels like it can.

Visit me elsewhere:

Strength and flexibility

I can often tell at the outset of the week when I’m about to get myself contorted. My schedule paints an accurate picture of the times of my life when I ignore reasonable boundaries of pace and order. I use my flexibility to work and rework the schedule until I can fit everything I want into it. And if I move quickly enough from item-to-item, I can complete the process without noticeable  effects.

I hyperextend. Instead of being strong, I flex. The parts of me which bend well, I allow to hold all the weight.

Let’s back up. Certain parts of our bodies were designed to work in certain ways. Some parts operate to provide us with strength and stability. Take our long leg muscles, our glutes, and the many core muscles that wrap around our midsection. They hold us up.

Other parts give us flexibility and movement. Our joints allow us to bend, our shoulders and hips rotate to allow us to walk, reach and grasp. They move us.

Having one of these abilities without the other significantly impairs our experience. Most humans have some degree of both in their lives, but very often we have a favorite mode from which we operate. For example, I tend to hyperextend in my joints. Where the average elbow will stop, my elbows will see how many more degrees it can stretch. This sounds fancy and fun until you turn 65 and have spent your life asking your shoulder function as your back muscle should have been all along, because it often turns into other issues. The joints get inflamed and fired up at the overuse.

For folks who operate out of their strength, change of position becomes a challenge. That hamstring is a humdinger of a powerhouse for athletes, propelling bodies faster down the field. Yet it can be a challenge for many people with such powerful strength to bend over and touch their shins, let alone toes. All strength and no flex spells injury when you try to perform in not-so-perfect conditions.

Neither operating out strength nor flexibility is “bad” or “good.” They just are.

As my teacher says, “As the body, so the soul.”

So my hyperextension manifests itself in my life as well. I can bend and work a schedule until I can do everything I want, often to the expense of other people or my own exhaustion.  Other folk do the opposite. We all have our ways. We figure out our shortcuts based on our habits.

So now, I reflect.  I’m asking the flexibility of my schedule to hold me up when perhaps I shouldn’t be (such regular activity will eventually result in burnout, I’m sure). So where are the places designed to give me strength and stability and life that I don’t tend to lean into?

Perhaps my schedule isn’t the only place I ask flexibility to do the work. Marriages, friendships, nutrition, rest – all of these things can be sources of strength or flexibility. But in what ways do they exhibit evidence of over-extending or strength to the point of rigidity?

As the body, so the soul. So, for now, I watch, I listen, I observe. I notice the habits and perhaps I will decide to try a different way of moving about in this world.

Visit me elsewhere:

Begin at the Beginning

I had one of those moments last week. A time where I could hear the kids screaming from two rooms away. Dinner needed cleaning up, the bigs needed help with their homework but refused to be helped, and the youngest wanted to take another bath. I remember laying (okay, hiding) on the bed, thinking, “Never would I have imagined that this would be my life.”

Then, I thought, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

It’s not perfect. Far from it. Put aside the constant messes, which ticks up my anxiety pretty quickly. Our voices are constantly  rising, though not nearly often enough in song. The kids sometimes don’t get along, with one particular child constantly sneaking into rooms and stealing candy, legos or drawing on private notebooks. And did I mention how LOUD it is around here?

Here’s the thing: it’s good. I have a good life. I have good kids. I have a good husband and a good marriage. I’m not alone. Lots of us have some good things going for us. Good jobs, good friends, good retirement plans, whatever’s in your bag.

For us go-getters, this can cause problems. We say, “what will make it better?” I’m all for that.  While I applaud a striving for betterment, it can take us down a dangerous path, toward the idea that only when it is “better” – usually envisioned as perfect – then it will be good enough.  And do you know when that will be? A day short of never. This leads to constant dissatisfaction and an inability to see the goodness in some of the most simple and beautiful of things.

It’s fine to improve. You’re reading words by a girl who keeps a Life Plan. I goal set. I consider the most time-efficient way to shower. (Seriously.) So these words don’t come from some lazy, “oh, it’s fine” sit-around-and-watch-COPS deadbeat. Don’t think I’ll dismiss striving for excellence as futile.

In the Christian tradition, we tell the story of a long, long time ago (think, the beginning) where there was a guy, a girl, a snake and two trees. Short story made even shorter, some bad choices were made and now we know why the world is filled with suffering.

Here’s what we forget: in chapters one and two of the book of beginnings, God creates everything and calls it – what? say it with me now – good. He calls it good. Water, plants, sky, sun, bugs, animals, fish… good, good, good, good, good, good, good. When he gets to his finale, the human, he says it’s very good.

Not perfect.

In our current state, we’re aware that we live with hardships and challenges, personal shortcomings and collective failure. On the tough days, when you know you messed it up or screwed someone over, we’re hyper-aware of this secondary way of being.

In our modern life, we need not look far to be told how imperfect we are, how we’re getting it all wrong. Advertisers capitalize on our awareness of imperfections all the time – that’s why wrinkle creams and flashy cars exist. They want to sell us something to cover up the not-so-great.  There’s no need to convince us of our un-goodness. We’re totally aware, thank you.

As we long for something better, we turn our eyes to what we think we ought to be. That first story; the beginning. We want to be good again.

But we think good means perfect.  So we don’t find the good. We don’t know what good looks like anymore because we’ve been told it needs to be skinnier, shinier, faster, sleeker and with toddlers that don’t throw fits. Also, it’s supposed to be easier, and if you’re doing the work, and it’s hard, you must be doing it wrong, because a good life should appear effortless.

Let’s return to our real beginnings, the one where God looked us up and down, in all our naked glory and said, “that’s some of my best work yet.” In the beginning, God made us in the image of God, an image we still reflect.

We’re not perfect. But we’re good.

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑