I’m sure most of you are familiar with the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” On the surface, this appears to be somewhat benign, and throughout my life, I’ve relied on it as my default reaction to the majority of situations I've encountered. The problem with this mentality is that just because something “ain’t broke”, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. None of us is living a life in stasis, so naively convincing ourselves that we’re coasting along is foolish indeed. Just as muscles atrophy due to lack of exercise, so to do relationships, work commitments, and self-improvement wane when we don’t actively involve ourselves in making them better. I’m guilty of coasting in many aspects of life be it family, work, or self-care.
American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once said: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
I invite you to really examine that quote, and mine it for all the wisdom it contains. What strikes me most is her belief that we have a responsibility to all humanity to harness the energy of our life force and allow it to flow through us into action. This process is fluid and liberating because it is not our “business to determine how good it is nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions.”
Where I’m stuck right now in my journey is trying to determine what that “life force” in me looks like, and what it’s all about. One of the biggest obstacles to growth in my life is my acceptance of herd mentality. I’m an introvert trapped in a megalomaniac's body. I’m most comfortable when I’m alone or in small groups, but for some strange reason I blindly headed into the teaching profession 22 years ago. At a party, I’ll be the loudmouth cracking risqué jokes, but deep inside I’m terrified to be around groups. I really have no idea how I ended up where I am today… I think I went to university not because I wanted to, but because everyone else was. I started teaching because the opportunity lay before, not as direct result of a vocation or passion. Over the years, I’ve grown into my job, and my job has grown into me, but I’m not convinced this is “where” I’m meant to be. If I put my head down and follow the rest of the herd, I could easily ride out this career to retirement, but I think if I do that, I won’t be keeping the “channel open” that Martha Graham referred to.
What I’m struggling with has a lot to do with self-judgement and nothing to do with whether or not I’m a good teacher. In fact, student feedback has always been positive, and I know that I play pivotal role in the lives of many students. I guess what I’m most afraid of is once again defaulting to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Five months ago when I disclosed some childhood trauma I had experienced, I was given the gift of finally finding “my voice” after living most of life governed by fear. Although I would never wish to go back to the way things were before, finally finding my voice and taking control of my life has been both liberating and burdensome. I’m questioning everything and everyone in my life and deciding whether, or not they are nourishing and healthful to my growth. When it comes to people in my life, it seems natural to follow my heart and know what to do. When it comes to my career, well… that’s an entirely different story.