Well, of course I’ve always had bones.
But now I have a 30-inch tall anatomically correct skeleton, named Arthur.
He is nowhere as big as a full-sized skeleton, but he’s engagingly solid, and while the top of his head is missing, and he tends to drop his gaze, really, he’s close to perfect.
When I went to my Wednesday afternoon physio appointment with Judy Russell, he was standing in the corner of her office, nice as could be.
I admired him.
She said: “If you want him, you can have him.”
And that was it, 16 months of unmet need ended in a single moment.
But as dramatic as it was, this unexpected turn of events was not the most surprising thing about Arthur’s arrival.
I’ve known for some time that I’d like a skeleton for the Yoga on 7th Studio, even hinting at how it would make a good Christmas present. But the only skeleton in my price range was too small and insubstantial, more like a Halloween miniature than a structure I could imagine inside my body – or help students imagine inside theirs.
I knew I didn’t want a full-scale skeleton. Even if I could afford it, it would be too big for the closet. A full-size skeleton, even if you drape it in a cloth, necessarily colors the feeling of a room. Not everyone who uses our space would like it.
Besides, the loss to low humor – no skeleton-in-the-closet jokes – would have been tragic.
I didn’t know what else was available, and I was busy with other things, so I put off taking further steps from early December of 2010 until now. The whole idea of a getting a skeleton faded into the background.
Then, about a week ago, while pursuing a recent line of thought – what it is I truly want, and how I would go about getting it? – I felt again, in all its intensity, how much I wanted a skeleton for teaching.
You might think that knowing what I wanted would be easy.
But in practice, “I” turns out to be not singular, but a multitude. And what one “I” is adamant about wanting, another “I” might not care for at all. It all depends on who’s present in the moment.
This can be confusing.
As usual, writing things down helps. So I pulled out my mind-mapping book, drew a circle in the middle, and wrote “Does anyone out there have a skeleton they no longer want?” in the circle.
Mind mapping, if you don’t know it, is a close to magical technique for writing and thinking. (You can get a free download of a mind-mapping guide, along with a great weekly newsletter on writing from my friend Daphne Gray-Grant at Publication Coach.)
Out of the circle with my skeletal question came lines of enquiry, thoughts about how I might make my request more public, including, as it turns out, asking Judy, on my next visit, where she would recommend buying one. Then I put my book away, went on a brief Easter-break holiday, and forgot about it all over again.
As you can imagine, the sudden arrival of Arthur when I met Judy this week set off a swarm of questions:
Was this an accident? Was it just atoms colliding? Or did I somehow help the atoms collide in a favorable way for me and my small wants by becoming more conscious of them?
And in the end, I think, a pointless avenue of speculation, although the idea that clarity about what you want makes it more likely you’ll get it is certainly more motivating than the theory that it’s all random.
I’m less interested, right now, in influencing my outer world than I am in learning how to wake myself up all day long and figure out what a particular “I” wants.
The “I” in question would be the grown-up, the “I” that does pranayama in the morning, eats well, pays taxes, cleans the fridge, saves for a rainy day, and keeps my deepest wants in mind.
I can’t say I would always choose what the more mature “I” chooses, especially if the “I” that likes to eat chocolate and read in the bathtub shows up, but I would like to know when there’s a choice to be made.
This week, I’d planned to write about Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct – as useful a book as any I’ve seen for people who would like to, oh, say, start a yoga practice and stick to it.
Then Arthur showed up and I had to tell you about him.
The next post will be about willpower, at least if nothing more compelling intervenes.
In the meantime, I’m going to practice the foundations of willpower: repeatedly waking up and asking myself what I really want.
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