This is becoming a little like yoga to me. I find that something is missing from the rhythm of my day if I don’t take the time to write something. That’s a good sign of a new conscious habit developing!

Yesterday I discovered the “Zen” of shooting baskets. I had horrible memories associated with all ball sports from elementary and high school P.E. class, which was mandatory torture every day of my public schooling in the state of Illinois. Supposedly one of the blessings of public education was the worst part of my day for all those years. First of all, I was told that I was “unathletic”. I don’t know who first told me this, but it was something I was quite sure of for as long as I can remember. I was also afraid of hurting my fingers and being unable to practice my violin or piano. That was definitely my teachers’ fears projected onto me, but I also absorbed them and believed them into the core of my being.

My earliest memory of basketball was Mrs. Wakefield’s P.E. class, in second or third grade. We each got an index card, with the names of different kinds of shots – granny shot, lay-up, jump shot – written in a list on the short side of the card, and boxes across the long side waiting to be filled with stickers or stars for the number of each kind of shot we scored. I remember wondering if I would ever get just one star on that card for the entire two-week basketball unit. The granny shot seemed doable. I’d stand at the free throw line, with my legs in a straddle position, hold the ball in both hands, and lower it between my knees. Steeling all my reserves of hope and courage, I’d swing my arms up toward the basket, releasing the ball at some point near my shoulder level, and hope for the best. Actually I hoped that the ball wouldn’t hit the rim and come bouncing back directly in my face. I think I made my first and only basket that year using the granny shot. I’m not sure I even attempted any of the others. I wasn’t too attached to the stars on my P.E. index card, much as I imagine some of the kids weren’t too attached to the stars on our spelling test charts posted in our regular classrooms. As for playing in games, I didn’t even want to try to catch the ball, for fear of two things: jamming a finger, or actually having to do something with the ball.

Fast forward to this weekend. I taught my last violin repertoire class and wanted to get outside and move my body. It was kind of cold and gloomy, so a hike wasn’t really appealing. I decided that shooting baskets at a local elementary school might be fun. Turns out, it was. I had a great teacher and it felt a lot like going to the driving range, only I was a lot closer to the ball. Shooting baskets involved focus, feel, timing, concentration, muscle memory, and body awareness. Instead of trying to get the ball as far as I could (as I would with a golf club and a golf ball), I was varying my position relative to the basket, and seeing what my body needed to do differently in each case. I even applied the yoga principles of extension from the side body (instead of from my shoulders).

And the sun came out eventually. It was a great cheap (well, actually free) way to get my breath going, and the mind connected back into the body in a different way. And it was surprising, because I never thought I would like it. I’m an NBA fan, but always associated basketball with the horror of P.E. class. I didn’t like anyone being close to me (like blocking or defending or bumping up against me) while I tried to shoot. I just liked shooting practice. Also an important discovery! So it’s possible to enjoy one element of something for a very different reason that is unrelated to the whole.

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Today I also sat with a group of people gathered together for inspiration in their desire to “escape from cubicle nation” – leave their corporate jobs and start their own businesses. As I go through my own change process, it is particularly interesting to see my own evolving ability to sit with people in different states of their own change. It used to trigger me to hear people churning through their own self-defeating beliefs over and over again, unwilling to change. I now know that the reason it triggered me was that there was a part of me who was also unwilling to change – a part who kept talking about the things I wanted to do but was in fact doing nothing to change. Now that I have gone through my own process and feel like I am finally taking real steps to open up the space for my next change to occur, I am less bothered to watch other people stagnating, struggling, or repeating the same habitual patterns that have served them for so long. I can observe it calmly, and with curiosity. I can see that how people progress has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. I can only keep observing, and perhaps be the one who is there when the cloud breaks on the dreary grey day in their minds. If I am there, won’t that be grand. But in the meantime, I’m moving on with my own changes.

I don’t know if this means I actually want to coach them one-on-one! But I’m also OK with that. I am in a phase of trying on a lot of things, and for the first time being OK with changing my mind. I don’t have to jump from one picture-perfect situation to the next, feigning that I have it all figured out. I can actually take the time to live through a few things, with my sole focus on discovering my own joy, which I believe will translate into my best life.

This from “Weathering” by Fleur Adcock:

But now that I am in love

with a place that doesn’t care

how I look and if I am happy,

happy is how I look and that’s all.

The irony of all this is that after listening to all the talk of how people actually manifest their dreams into reality, the mission in my heart for The Music Within Us never changed. It was always, for me, a fascination with how people make their dreams real, that led me to chase my own dreams. I wanted to know for myself, not just watch from the outside. I started by trying to guide people using the metaphor of violin. I found out it was too abstract of a metaphor – too far from the core of chasing a dream. To use the basketball versus golf metaphor – both sports involve getting a ball into a hole. However, basketball is in some ways more natural to learn than golf because (a) the ball is bigger, (b) you are standing closer to the target, and (c) your hands are directly on the ball, so your sensation of control over the ball is much greater as a beginner. With golf, you are separated from the ball by the club, which depends on your grip, your stance, the accuracy of your head position, and then the coordination of various parts of your body moving in opposite directions compared to the trajectory of the ball. And the most non-intuitive rule of the golf swing is, don’t follow the ball with your eyes!

So trying to teach the “follow your dream” message by teaching violin is a little like teaching golf to someone who just wants to learn what it feels like to get a ball into a hole and move their body a little. They might learn to play golf, but might never get the benefit of feeling what it’s like to get a ball into a hole (it’s great!) or move their body at all.

I’d much rather learn the “follow your dream” lesson by following my own dreams, and by sharing a little of what I know along the way as I can. This means what I have to share will evolve as I evolve, change as I change, and carry the energy that I carry. Part of learning is trying to teach. And I am excited to keep learning, keep teaching, keep creating my life as I go along.

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