Moi, back when I could be anything I wanted to be...

“We become who we pretend to be.”                                

“The purpose of yoga is not to achieve a pose, but to quiet the mind. To stop telling ourselves the stories we make up. To mute the running commentary that says, ‘Oh I can’t do that. Or, I’m not strong enough, or limber enough, or graceful enough.'”

These are nuggets I brought home recently — the first one from a pastoral prayer a few Sundays ago, and the second from this morning’s yoga class.  No major “A ha!”;  no earth-shatteringly new wisdom, but I think I’m finally getting the message, or at least beginning to listen anew to my stories.

My continual inner commentary tends to be a little too Dick Vitale (sorry, it is March Madness) — shrill and grating. I’m quick to shortchange myself, and can be self-deprecating in a not-so-attractive way (you see, there I go again). At the end of a long run yesterday, I chided myself for my achy quads and slow pace, rather than acknowledging the feat of completing 10+ miles. In my work life I beat myself up for all I don’t get done rather than feeling proud of all I do accomplish. I repeatedly tell my girls that they can be anything they want to be, but refuse to sell myself this same storyline. I pretend to be less than I can be, or am, so I am not disappointed.

And then along comes ALS, and I watch as my mother gracefully shifts her narrative. The disease tells her, “I will rob you. You will lose this and that; you will be diminished.”  And I hear her saying, “Ok, damnit. Maybe so, but I’ll do what I can do.” She’s pretending to be strong, and it becomes her.

I, too, want and need a new story. It’s time to make believe.


~ by Stephanie on 03/22/2010.

2 Responses to “Authoring.Lopsided.Stories”

  1. My first impulse is to say that the collar and plaid of your shirt certainly dictates that you could definitely take your pick of ANYTHING, anything at all. But then I read your post and have to sigh, because I know you, and I know you to be this extraordinary person of uncommon grace and beauty and the fact that you’re self-deprecating and hard on yourself just boggles the mind. I’m not sure you even need to pretend.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your courageous mother and challenge to me at age 70 to be gentler with myself. I love Rilke’s poem that reminds me “we come of age as masks” – will there be a time when all is settled, masks removed and we are content with the result? I think the “do anything girl” has done really well.

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