Back when I taught high school, I loved the honor student who opted not to take Advanced Placement and strutted into my “regular” English class thinking he would skate through, up his GPA, and maybe – just maybe – take part in class, gracing us with his superior intelligence. I lived for the moment when he realized “regular” didn’t exactly mean below level or mediocre.
I started back to the gym last month with the same arrogance. Because of my bad knees, I joined a “gentle” yoga class where we use chairs instead of pretzeling ourselves on floor mats. I strutted into that class, smirk on my face, and quickly assessed my fellow participants. Some of those folks were older than my parents.
Be it known – I had my arthritic butt whupped by a classroom full of limber octogenarians who can out-warrior and out-downward dog me every single time.
Last weekend I attended a writers’ conference. I guess I’m the kind of person who has to hit bottom repeatedly before learning humility. I heard all the same stuff I already knew: I should create intriguing, “real” characters; Every single word I put on paper should move the plot forward; Revision and self-editing are my best friends.
In yoga, the Warrior Three pose looks easy at first. Your complete body, both arms, and one leg are parallel to the floor, while you balance seamlessly on the other leg for a good amount of time. You kind of look like Superman zooming to the rescue. When I actually attempt it, I look like a sick flamingo in baggy yoga pants, flapping desperately to stay in flight.
It is doing the work and balancing it all with some level of competence, not mediocrity, that proves one's mettle.