What lies ahead always appears daunting. But we can still love (or learn to love) the struggle, the beautiful struggle that lasts exactly as long as life does.
“I love how being an adult is just saying “But after this week things will slow down a bit again” to yourself until you die.”
This might just be the perfect definition of life as a grown-up. I chanced upon it the other week via a tweet from the lovely Laurie Ruettimann. A wee bit of googling suggests that a 2019 tweet from @kramski could be the origin of this phrase.
These wise and witty words resonate. Casting my mind back, I have probably said either this exact same phrase or some similar variant to my wife each week of this year. That is more than likely true of 2020 before that, and of 2019 before that, and of etc. Gentle reader: Is the same true for you, too?
The obstacles you will have to deal with in the immediate future often seem the most intimidating of all those that have yet got in your way on life’s path. The memory of having overcome the previous challenge (and all challenges before it) seems to erase itself almost the instant it happens. This is a fundamental truth of the beautiful struggle that shapes your life.*
The beautiful struggle lasts exactly as long as your life does. I wrote a few months back (in What you are about to become) of my long-held belief that there seem to be whole years and entire decades in your life that are there simply to be struggled through (although making it through them is an admirable achievement all its own, of course). The hard times do not end. Until they do.
You can’t always, as the song suggests, get what you want. You might even find that, in a very real sense, you get what you need. Over the course of your life, you will deal with a lot of instances of things failing to work out in your favour. Frustration is an inevitable part of all our lives, probably to a greater extent than most of us would be comfortable admitting. How do you deal with that frustration?
Go back to Kramski’s words. From a certain point of view, adult life is nothing but looking at the looming intensity of the next week on your calendar, the impossible to-do list ahead of you. But – whether or not with sarcastic intention – Kramski’s tweet begins “I love how…”. We can still love (or learn to love) the struggle, the beautiful struggle.
It’s not all about mastering the pose
For just over five years now, I have tried my best to do yoga regularly. Back in March 2016, my wife’s recommended I try it as a way to mitigate the effects of both stress and the inevitable physical wear and tear of being on the less-than-young side. Now, my yoga game is not strong. But I feel so much better as a result of making a regular part of my life. My wife recommended Adriene Mishler’s Yoga with Adriene YouTube videos as a friendly and accessible way in. I have been an enthusiastic convert ever since (see my 2019 post on My top 5 Yoga With Adriene videos for more).
One thing I love about yoga is that even if you were to attempt the exact same poses every day, your experience of them would always be different. How you breathe, how you feel that day, where you are – all of these things can have a bearing.
But until I gave it a go, it had never occurred to me that yoga could also be about exploring frustration. And that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
In her January 2017 video entitled Fearless Practice, Adriene says something simple yet profound:
“Sometimes it’s not all about mastering the pose, right. In fact, can I say ‘All the time…’? It’s about how you deal with your frustrations. How do you celebrate the joyful feelings? How do you celebrate the not so joyful feelings?”
Some yoga poses are deliberately discomforting, or outright tiring, annoying or boring. From a certain point of view.
How you choose to deal with frustration makes all the difference. Bring openness. Celebrate the not so joyful feelings. Accept and try to enjoy the struggle, the beautiful struggle.
And you never know – things might just ease up a wee bit after this week.
* I have borrowed and adapted the phrase “the beautiful struggle” from Talib Kweli’s song and album of the same name.
- Desert in Spring via Wikimedia Commons.
- A man, facing left, wearing several layers of clothing, sitting with arms raised over his head, practicing yoga via Wikimedia Commons. (MJCarty note: It looks to me as if this gentleman might be facing to the right. What is your view?)
- Cactus Flower1 via Wikimedia Commons.