Friday, September 4, 2015

Hello there, friend,

I finished reading Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer earlier this week. It was recommended to me because of my new found love of yoga, but the book is about so much more than that: striving for goodness and perfection.

Dederer writes about her quest to be the perfect mother and how it was a response to her mother, who left her father when she was a child (like all the other mothers who were always leaving during the seventies, she writes). Throughout the book, Dederer wrestles with the pressure to be good, to be perfect, to do it all right and not make a mistake -- the martyrdom of motherhood. Eventually, after many years, she figures out how to stop striving and just be, a lesson she gleans through her yoga practice. You can never be perfect at yoga, and why would you want to be? The joy of it comes in working through the poses, not in conquering the yoga mountain.

It took me a full three weeks to read Poser. I took it in a bite at a time because each time I read it, I started unpacking things in my own life. I feel so much of what Dederer writes: the striving, the perfectionism, the feeling of not being good enough. It had never occurred to me that it was in response to things that have happened earlier in my own life, but I can see it. I'm trying to atone for the sins of those who came before, assuming if I just try hard enough, I can right this ship and steer it straight.

So, you ask what it is I fear. I have an answer. I'm afraid of not being good enough, of screwing up my kids, of being an angry curmudgeon, of getting divorced, of never trying hard enough to realize my dreams, of waking up as an old lady and realizing I wasted my whole life running away from myself.

But I'd like to think I'm not guided so much by fear as by love (or maybe some magical combination of both). I want my husband and kids to feel loved. I want our home to be comfortable enough that people can come in and feel welcome. I want to work through my own passions and creativity because I want to use my gifts in the world. I want to sit with the quiet in my own heart and see if it has anything to say. I want to bow my head and close my eyes and feel the love of my God. Because in all of these things, no matter how hard I strive or how perfect I try to be, I am loved and acceptable and whole.