I know it sounds weird. But whatever it is requires less of you, not more. I’ve been guilty my whole life of “trying SO hard.” When I can’t get something right or figure out a solution, I am like “but I am trying SO hard at it.” Waaaa. Why can’t I get it right?
My husband, the first probable spiritual guru I ever met, was the one who shone a light on this part of myself. This was during my first year as a teacher. Days when I’d come home wound up tight like a corkscrew, stuck in a hardened coil position.
I felt so responsible for those kids, like their success depended on me, like I was the sole provider of any true writing leverage in their lives. I felt responsible for teaching every grammar rule, writing strategy, and research skill. (You could say I was either pretty narcissistic or pretty insane. Go on, you can say it.)
So, I’d end the day unable to unwind, barely taking a break from the moment I put down my briefcase to the moment my head hit the pillow. Somewhere in there, I’d eat something and laugh with my husband, but those moments felt barely existent, paper thin.
After a while of this, Eric started pointing out that I didn’t need to work so hard and that doing so even made me less of a good teacher because I was likely taking that tension into the classroom. Eventually, after several months, I began to listen. I began to let go. Get this, I even started playing God of War and Guitar Hero after dinner, for those video game geeks out there who know what the hey I am talking about.
Over time, I did become a better teacher, I am pretty sure. If nothing else, I was happier, lighter. I felt more refreshed in the morning and readier to greet the day.
Today, I came home from my first day of summer school. And it was a truly successful first day. But man, I came home feeling wiped, wondering how I am going to pull that off again on Wednesday. So I am having to remind myself of this basic truth, that for everyday, ordinary stresses – and sometimes even great big ones – there’s nothing that a little incense and some soothing music from my “Meditation” channel on Pandora can’t transform. Either that or a big glass of red wine in the evening.
From there, once I have spent a little time soaking in my new environment, letting it seep into my skin, I can remember that whatever I am supposed to accomplish for the next day, no matter how unprepared I might feel, isn’t a life or death situation. I can work less hard at trying to get it “just right,” and in doing so, I am likelier to get it right – or close enough to right. Close enough is all we really need.