When I took ice skating lessons in my thirties, I met an older woman who was having a ripsnorting time falling on the ice.
Intrigued, I asked Karin why she was having so much fun looking like a fool.
She grinned and replied, simple: as a rank beginner she felt more alive than she had in years.
Say what? There I was busting my gut proving to the world and myself that I was competent and powerful. Why in tarnation would anyone be happy to be so visibly ignorant?
Over lattes Karin had the goodwill to explain. Turns out she was an expert in biomedical research.
And was getting quite tired of feeling like she knew it all. To reclaim her zest she picked the thing most unlike research that lit her up in anticipation: ice skating.
So Karin was falling down every other breath, clueless about what she was doing, and in heaven.
I couldn't understand, and dropped out after several lessons.
Fast forward several decades. Like Karin, I've done the expert thing: four books published, teaching around the world, yada yada yada. I've loved it, but was getting tired of taking myself so seriously.
So I asked myself in May what I most needed to flourish (thanks, you wonderful sisters in the Flourishing After 45 teleclass), and the answer came back loud and clear: Tai Chi. Even though I've wanted to learn tai chi for 30 years, it hasn't happened. Why, I hear you ask?
It's like this: Each of our lives is like a planet. And what we do is to cover the surface of our planet with stuff: physical stuff, emotional stuff, mental stuff.
What we don't know is that marvelous things (experiences, people, learnings) are circling our planets, just looking for a place to land. They have to keep orbiting, though, because there's no space for even a miniscule landing strip. Some of these things have been patiently circling for decades by the time we pass that 45 year mark.
No landing space, no landing.
This is what happened for me with tai chi. I've known ever since living in Hong Kong in my 20's that tai chi is closer to me than my own heartbeat.
But it took me 30 years to clear landing space for it. Two bulky things blocked its landing: being a busy mom, and my resistance to looking and feeling foolish and ignorant.
I realized that with daughter Elise launched, I had the space for something new. And I was surprised to discover that, like Karin, I was hungry to be a beginner in something that lit me up.
So I signed up for the summer all-the-classes-you-can-take special at the Embrace the Moon dojo. The day I sent my money in, I read this from Nicholas Hobbs: "The key to zest and joy and deep fulfillment: to choose trouble for oneself in the direction of what one would like to become."
Choosing trouble: that's exactly what I was doing!
Listen up: this kind of trouble isn't about creating chaos and conflict and drama. Honestly, sisters, by the time we hit fifty most of us are pretty accomplished at that ;-)
No, ladies, this trouble is sweet trouble, zesty trouble, Trouble with a capital T. Trouble that ejects you from your well-upholstered ruts and lands you in the deep currents of the river of your own best life.
I starting hieing my overweight, slightly-out-of-shape 54 yo self to the dojo 4 times a week. I felt shy, insecure, and scared. I wondered what insanity had driven me to this. And I loved it.
I released my fear of foolishness the third week of class, and dove headlong into delight. The teacher demonstrated a tai chi step and we practiced 4 or 5 times. Kim told us to continue while she observed.
Everyone kept practicing.
I couldn't remember how to start. This, foot, here? No. Here? No. I watched others and I still couldn't remember. I waved my arms around tai chi-like, but couldn't achieve liftoff.
I felt humiliated to say out loud, Help, I don't have a clue what to do.
But I cleared my throat and confessed my abysmal ignorance to the entire dojo.
To my surprise, I didn't die. Kim came over and helped me.
And to my even greater surprise, I melted into joy. I felt like the Fool in the tarot deck, stepping off the cliff, having not a clue where I was going to land, but trusting the fall.
I'm learning how freeing it can be to know nothing, to let go of my carefully nurtured expert self, to return to zesty foolishness and sweet-spot Trouble.
When you find your Trouble, everything changes. To experience that luscious inrushing of new life makes you ask, where else can I invite this in? And what in my life is standing in the way of more?
So I'm clearing more landing space (more about that in future newsletters), and am celebrating all sorts of new things on my planet.
Being an oldest child, what I want all y'all to do is to play tai chi, because I know that's the finest Trouble in the world ;-)
But wait ... be still, my heart ... I realize that tai chi is my Trouble, not yours. And yours is out there, patiently orbiting your life-planet, if it hasn't landed already.
So, sisters, what Trouble sings to you? And how can you clear space for it to make a 3-point landing in your life?
Somewhere, out there in space, is Trouble with your fine name emblazoned all over it.