Cynicism is an easy thing to hide behind in order to stop you doing things that challenge you. I hadn’t realised just how cynical I’d become. I had this brought home to me recently by the most unlikely source – US comedian and satirist, Stephen Colbert.
I was procrastinating over something I was meant to be writing – distracted by Facebook, Twitter and You Tube when I stumbled across a clip of Stephen Colbert’s speech at Knox College (via Mandy Stadtmiller):
“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom but it’s the farthest thing from it because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed wryness – a rejection of the world because we’re afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. Saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. For as long as you have the strength to, say yes.”
And I realised that the procrastination – over something that I know I really, really want to do – was my fear. What if it was bad? But more importantly, what if it was good? The prospect that it just might be good and consequently lead to other things, bigger, better things was far more scary. I realised that was the real reason I was procrastinating. And there is a parallel in my yoga practice…
It’s a little over six months since I’ve been practicing at my yoga home. In that time I have generally practiced 5-6 times a week. I had a regular practice before, for a few years in fact, but in the last six months something has most definitely shifted. By this, I don’t mean that I am now a vegan, yogi zen master – far from it. I don’t even know how to describe it, but something at a very deep level has changed, and I can feel it’s not done with me yet. I don’t know that it is just the yoga – the last year has seen some notable events and changes in my life – but my practice has been at the centre of it all and played a major role in how I respond to what happens. I am astounded and at times somewhat freaked out by the changes in me, both externally and especially internally. The cynic in me doesn’t want to accept that my increasing interest in the spiritual aspects of the practice is legitimate, for instance. And I’ve worried about what happens if I’m no longer ‘the fat one’, ‘the quiet one’, ‘the cynical one’…? What will people think? Will my friends still want to be my friends if I change…?
But then I realised that I’m not so much changing as becoming more of myself and less the person I always thought I ‘should’ be. Cynics say no. It’s easier to do that or just not try. It hit me that what I’ve been doing for the last six or so months is saying ‘yes’ more. Not just on the mat, but in my life. No wonder it’s been so freakin’ scary. And brilliant.
In more ways than one I feel – I know – I am about to cliff dive into new waters. I am not great with heights at the best of times, and my best stroke is the doggie paddle but still, I just have this feeling that whatever happens, things will work out just fine.
(Thanks to Mandy Stadtmiller @mandystadt for bringing this Stephen Colbert speech to my attention. I can’t imagine Stephen Colbert ever pictured himself as a yoga guru, but hey, never say never Steve-o.)