The mind gets a lot of crazy ideas. (Well at least mine does, and I suspect if you pay attention, you’ll find that yours does too.)
In recent weeks, it’s taken to suggesting that I should be someone else. Now who this person is varies, depending on the day, my mood, and what I’ve been reading or thinking about. And the fact is, if you lined up all the people my mind tells me I should be, you’d find that their behaviors and beliefs are often quite clearly at odds. But my mind doesn’t care about that. It’s quite convinced that it’s entirely right—and it’s out to convince me too.
My mind has been especially insistent since discovering The Fluent Self, a blog-cum-transformational playspace created by Havi Brooks. “You should be Havi,” my mind clamors. “She is doing such interesting things, and she talks about them in such interesting ways. You should be her not you! I can help you do that.”
It’s taken some time, but I am finally getting my mind to accept that this is not going to happen. A major breakthrough came when I showed my mind this video of Havi doing her Shiva Nata yoga practice wearing a pink wig.
“You see that?” I said to my mind. “That is Havi. That is not us. We can learn from her. But we are never ever ever going to be her.”
On hearing this, my mind became a bit disconsolate, though after watching the video twice, it allowed that it was likely true.
As is often—if not always—the case, the trick is to find something between the all and the nothing. What does my mind’s crush on Havi have to tell me? For one thing, it’s about my need to be more playful. It’s about doing more to find my tribe and building a community. And maybe it even means traveling to Portland to attend Rally (Rally!)
It also helps to remind myself that however crazy in love my mind may be with someone else’s life or work, there are others to whom my own life and work speak in similar ways. This came home to me a few months back, when I became friendly with a writer I’ve long admired. I was thrilled when she told me she liked something I’d written but then rushed to send her an essay that I thought was way better—one of my all-time favorites penned by another writer.
Some days later, I got this careful response: “As for X’s piece…honestly? Between us? It’s not really my thing . . . . I hope it’s okay to say that—she’s clearly a smart writer.” The fact that this writer I so admired could prefer my piece to the one I’d just sent came as a revelation.
As it happens, my mind is still not entirely convinced that I shouldn’t aspire to Havi. But I’m prepared to wait. Soon it will be on to something else. (And if not, I still have the video.)
© 2012, amy gutman. All rights reserved.