The long weekend is here. Time for a little restoration after a hard week’s work. I find that I used to have high expectations for long weekends; when I drank it meant extra time with a drink in hand and I equated that to having fun (whether it really was or not). My long weekends were spent in a booze-induced oblivion, just like all my other weekends. These days my time is spent resting a lot because of the kidney situation. When I do go out or get active I really choose how to spend my time. I only have so much energy and I can’t waste it on things I don’t want to be doing or on things that bring me no pleasure, meaning or fun! And maybe that’s the great lesson in kidney disease for me, to be choosy.
I’ve written about this before in various contexts. There’s a niyama (observance) in yoga philosophy called tapas that can be loosely translated to discipline. For many this means getting at the yoga routine (spiritual practice or physical practice) regularly and sticking to the schedule; eating only those foods that will nourish the body properly, etc. For me there’s a bigger picture though. When I wrote about tapas I mentioned letting go of things that don’t propel you in the direction of your dreams, and I still believe that. You need the discipline to let go of the things that don’t really matter. But it’s also about how you’re living your life in a more general sense.
I had a professor in my second year of university who, on the first day of class, said “if you’re doing things you don’t like doing, stop doing them and you’ll probably be a lot happier”. That stuck with me. But I haven’t always restricted myself to those things that I enjoy. Sometimes I have gone to parties that I really didn’t want to go to becasue I was expected to be there. I’ve made time for people who I feel no connection with. I’ve not done things like traveling that I wanted to do because a desire to save money. The list goes on, and it does for many of us I would say.
Kidney disease has given me a bit of a gift of freedom. It’s also restricted me to a degree (with food for the most part, and now travel while I’m in waiting mode), but there’s a freedom. No one can take issue with me being too tired to do some activity. No one can push me to do things I don’t want to do anymore. I can take on things with an understanding that I may not be able to complete them right away, and that’s ok. It’s taken the stress out of that particular side of life. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s added this completely different level of stress and I’m having a lot of trouble not being able to plan things right now (although maybe that’s part of the lesson), but I do recognize the gift as well.
I had lunch with a friend/yoga student yesterday and he asked if I would be teaching all my classes again in the fall. In discussing this I realized that I’m thinking it has to be all or nothing. He pointed out that he, and likely all my yoga students, would not mind if I had to cancel some days because I was exhausted. I get very committed to my classes and I ask for commitment in exchange, so this is a new view for me. I’ll have to give some to this, because people need their routines to a degree. But I can look at options. It doesn’t always have to be me for example. Maybe I could find a couple of other instructors willing to take over when I’m not capable. Maybe I won’t need many cancellations. Maybe the style can change sometimes depending on my energy level (even when you aren’t participating, you need to bring a certain energy to the room). Lots to think about. So maybe this too can be a gift. A gift of exchange of energy with others. A gift of reduced pressure. A gift of not needing to be ‘on’ when I teach.
This is a time in my life of many lessons. They’re coming a little faster than I can absorb them, but I’m getting there. For now though, I’ll take my long weekend and relax.