And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.
- traditional Buddhist prayer
When I was in my 20s, there were so many things I knew for sure. I had a whole lot of stuff figured out. There were things I liked (wine) and things I didn’t like (kale) and that was that. Those who disagreed were sorely mistaken.
Now in my mid-30s, I am loving the blissful realization that I know nothing. Because although I was certain those things would never change, there have been some surprising developments. There are new things that I like (kale – if it has enough olive oil and garlic) and don’t like (wine – because it keeps me awake all night).
It’s so easy to label things as good or bad. I was always kind of judgmental of people who had ill-behaved dogs. Oh my God, just train your dog I would think, as some wild pooch strained at a leash attached to an embarrassed owner.
And then I adopted my rescue dog. My sweet, darling girl who, for completely unknown – yet surely justifiable – reasons, HATES other dogs. So, when we walk, I am the embarrassed owner holding back a lunging, snarling beast. While multiple group classes, individualized dog training sessions, bribery with treats and strong coercion have helped a little – my perspective on just train your dog has shifted a little.
I thought of all of this recently when I came upon a group of yoga teachers having a discussion about setting an intention at the beginning of yoga class. Should you ask your students to dedicate the class or not?
There were a wide variety of impassioned answers ranging from “Hell no, it’s gimmicky” to “Yes, always, it’s the heart of the practice.“
My favorite answer is the answer that I am finding that I am using more and more in life.
Sometimes it makes sense. Other times it doesn’t.
Sometimes I drink wine, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes my dog is well behaved, sometimes she is not. Sometimes I eat kale for dinner, sometimes I eat pecan pie.
And here’s the other big thing I’m realizing – I don’t require anyone else to agree with me.
There are fewer and fewer things in life I’m willing to be judgmental about – either in the negative or positive. Because I’ve seen myself, in the process of changing and growing as a person, flip flop. Then suddenly, I’m on the opposing end of something that I once regarded with distain or worshiped to an absurd degree.
And that just gets embarrassing.
Clearly, I’m not saying never take a stand on anything, I just think that equanimity and an amount of respect and understanding for a different way of doing things can be a very compassionate and freeing thing.
So set an intention or don’t, drink wine, eat kale and love that ill-behaved dog.
It’s all beautiful.
You might also like: