Jewish Journal

To Do List

by Michelle Azar

November 2, 2012 | 10:51 am

If you’re like me, you like lists. To do lists, grocery, recipe lists… They make me feel organized. And sometimes, reveal just how disorganized I really am, as I often FORGET the darn list at home when it is time to forge ahead into the DOING part.

I like lists because I can see all the pretty words sitting next in one place. They are ready and clear for the tackling. The joy of the simple list then goes through the roof when each item is either stored, understood, or better yet, crossed off.

There are certain things, I have grown to understand, that just are not meant to be checked off a list. Your spiritual health, for one thing. The inner work you do to keep your outer self healthy. Sane. Happy. Strong. We all know that adage “Practice makes perfect.” But what happens after the “perfect” comes? What happens once the standing ovation at Carnegie Hall dies down? Does the musician never return to his instrument? What happens AFTER you lose the 10 pounds from following the diet list so carefully? Do you add all those foods back in so that the newfound energy or exercise just seems that much more out of reach again?

Relationships cannot be on the “ALL DONE” part of a to do list. After the big blowup fight , when the relationship is back on track, do you stop sharing or listening or loving and find your way back into poor communication? Or meditation. After you learn the basics, clear the space and sit with tall spine for months, and then… Stop. Maybe the sleep disturbance returns. Or you find the monkey of your mind is louder and more forceful in its name calling than ever.

We all have our Achilles heel trying to hold us back. The moment we let our vigilant inner guard off duty, either from unmet expectations or from moments of triumph, we leave ourselves vulnerable to those mean old heels lying in wait. I am all for balance and testing your waters, but I find once I have found something that works for me, I rely too much on the experience itself and not enough on all the actions I take to partake in it healthfully.

We cannot take our spiritual selves lightly. I feel the same about community. Though I am not politically active as I could be, I feel connected to the same communal vigilance. To show up and vote on Tuesday is not something we can check off our lists until each one of us individually gets to the polls and casts a ballot. I appreciate the energy of your practices and comments here always. They keep me motivated and vigilant and working.

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Michelle fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, some 13 years ago while doing a play in San Francisco. Having...

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