When I flew home for my brother’s wedding in September I took the opportunity to replace some of my things. I brought a bunch of clothes from Busan that I never wore and in return I grabbed a huge stack of flute music, some pans and tea balls from my kitchen, some books, a pillow, and a few other miscellaneous items.
I also chose to bring some posters to put up in my new home, even though I knew I would only be here for a few more months. One is a replica of Van Gogh’s starry night – a beautiful blue poster featuring bold brush strokes and an unidentified couple near the river with a city landscape and starry sky on the horizon. It’s a poster I bought at a tumultuous personal time and it has always had a soothing effect on me. Continuing with this blue theme I brought back a piece of spray paint art that I bought on my first trip to New York. It is old and battered and may soon be thrown away, but it reminds me of the sense of excitement and energy I had for traveling, for being somewhere new and different. It reminds me of the first time I forsook a grim practicality with finances and chose to go out on a limb and buy a ticket for the experience, rather than pass it up for the financial stability.
The third poster is the most important one for me, as of late.
It's an image of an androgynous shadowy figure running through the woods at twilight with a quote from Carlos Castaneda stating: "We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."
I put it on the wall next to my music stand near the door. Every morning I walk by it as I prepare for the day. Every night I glance at it as I begin a practice session. It’s in front of me as I do yoga each day.
It’s my reminder that everyday should be a step forward. It doesn't have to be a huge leap, you can inch forward by choosing to do some small thing with a positive impact on your daily life, or you can charge forward with abandon and redefine who you are. But know that if you choose to do nothing, if you choose to dwell in some sense of stasis and lethargy, you are actively making yourself miserable. Even if it feels to you as if you are simply not actively bettering yourself, you are choosing to be in a way that does not resonate with who you are.
That’s not to say that you can’t take personal days, even from yourself. Sometimes we need time to recharge.
But each day we make a choice, strength or misery, forward or backward, yes or no.
For me, today was a small step. I drafted, edited, and submitted an application to a music school in Zurich. It was only one application. It was for a position that isn’t hiring and might not even look over my information and I had to sacrifice my flute time to do it.
But I can rest easy tonight knowing that there is one more chance for employment, one more opportunity for the future, thanks to that one hour of focused work.
I can approach my yoga mat feeling calm and ready to embrace this strength – a mental fortitude or optimism and effort that will easily transfer into the physical strength required for my yoga practice.
I can sleep with a sense of accomplishment rather than a pervasive sense of unease. For the little things are what make you feel that you have control. I am not a wait-er, I am a do-er and I attribute this fact to any success I’ve had up to this point. When I begin to feel stressed butterflies soaring in my stomach before going to sleep at night I know that something needs to happen.
Even if it’s a little thing.