Venn windows on the scale.

By on Feb 14, 2013 in The Unruly Ascetic

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How appropriate that today is Valentine’s Day.

As you know, if you read this long winded blog regularly (and by regularly, I mean whenever I irregularly post), you know that I faced some heartbreak this year.  I was in this really great phase where practice was king!  Sharath and Mysore were my priority. I was happy and confident. I knew what my priorities were and how to meet my goals… and in walked someone who made me push against the walls of my window, begging it to stay put.  Someone whose dot was pretty firmly (and cheerfully) placed far, far from my window of comfort. I did not want to accept that maybe there were challenges to face aside from practice and getting back to Mysore.
We are uniquely singular beings, each with our own challenges and obstacles. We each land on the scale in a very particualr, individual way.  I think that we tend to find our friends, our confidants, our lovers and our partners in crime by finding others who have similarly placed windows.  Our relationships are like Venn diagrams on the sliding scale.  Some people line up easily and we can settle in with them and learn from them and love them easily.  
and some people don’t.  
With some people our windows only slightly overlap, so we have to push to the limits of our own productive comfort zone to involve them in our lives.  and sometimes we step out of our comfort zone entirely for their sakes, only to eventually relinquish our position and move back into our own space. 

It doesn’t mean we don’t love them and appreciate them for all that they are, it just means the experiences that serve them don’t serve us. Heartbreakingly, one or the other (or both) is pushing our limits to the point that we can’t meet in the shared space.  Other times we want to push our limits and can’t, or don’t push our limits because we don’t think we can.

Blah. What a mess.
Sometimes stretching to the extreme of asceticism, where there are no Venn diagrams at all seems like the easiest choice.

But really, I think it is in the space of the overlap that there is the most potential.  It is at the edges of our window of productive experience that we find the most growth.  We will probably be the most comfortable right, square in the middle.  But we will challenge ourselves most effectively by playing the line between productive and destructive.  

As any first batch (4:30 am) Mysore ashtanga practitioner will tell you, we are playing a fine line line between productive austerity and madness. But 4:30 happens to be right in the middle of sharath’s window of comfort, so we do it for him.  With practice, with my teacher, it’s easy to accept these experiences at the edge of what I can productively experience. I have a faith in the practice that gives me the strength to do this and hold steady.
With everyone else, I’m not so good at it.  I am still struggling to determine my own borders as they are shifted and warped, sliding and expanding along this scale of experience. but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Hopefully soon I’ll be closer to figuring out how it’s going to work when I start taking into consideration the overlap of others’ windows and my desire to live in shared space.

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