Because of my irrational achievement needs, I interpreted this as an admonition, as saying “If you’re not at maximum capacity, you don’t really care.”
I realize now that she may have meant there will always be more work to do, and all we can do is our best. But I was off the deep end. I had gotten to the point where there was no such thing as down time. I believed that even reading fiction was a wasteful sin, forget about television. My entire life was striving to be a perfect version of the Earth Mother archetype.
Central to the story—this was never the role I wanted to play. I was well aware that I was living somebody else’s dream life: stay at home mom, huge raised-bed gardens full of vegetables, spending my days making beautiful vegan food and educating myself about all the atrocities modern life has wrought on the planet.
We installed a solar hot water system; composted; tried not to buy anything nonreusable; embarked on large research campaigns before all major and many minor purchases; and saved up our recycling for when we drove one county over, since our county didn’t have recycling yet.
I wrote blogs for a carbon credit organization and a vegetarian magazine, lecturing into the void about our failures as a culture from the safety of my home. Mostly I judged: I judged every single one of my own actions and most of everybody else’s by a set of completely unreasonable standards.
I was absolutely miserable. There was always more I could have been and should have been doing.
But, like I said, I knew this wasn’t my life. This was someone else’s ideal existence. I had left my path of study; of delving into the mysteries; of gathering lofty thoughts and taming them into manageable, relatable chunks. And in the process I lost my self.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve become overwhelmed with striving again, overwhelmed with the feeling that there’s always more I could be and should be doing, and it all has to do with the business of Yoga. I think there's more I should be doing: to be out there in the community, to market my books, to reach more people.
And I have to keep reminding myself, I came to Yoga to find peace. I became a teacher to make sure I maintain my practice and keep returning to that place of peace within. I love that what I do also helps other people, and I love the community I’ve become a part of. But I have to watch out for trading in one obsession for another.
So, this is the lesson from Yoga that I need to keep in mind these days –“There’s always less you can do.” As long as we are wrapped up in the ego personality, there is always something we can let go. As long as we keep holding on to the past and projecting into the future, there is something we can stop doing. Until we are at peace, present to this moment with grace and gratitude, there is always less we can do.