Labor day is over and the first hints of fall are already starting to show in beautiful Eugene, Oregon. The maples are beginning to drop leaves, and the temps are just a bit cooler at night--finally blowing the smoke from the forest fires outside the town.
I was walking home this morning from my usual Sunday class at Mudra Yoga in Eugene, when I saw a man tear down an art sign that someone in the city had hung that said "be kind." This man tore it up, threw it on the ground, looked right at me, grinned, and rode away on his bike.
I suddenly became very aware of myself and of others--what each of us puts out in the world. I realized that though I think of myself as "normal," I was, in fact, wearing yoga clothes, holding a potted plant, and wearing a hiking lumbar pack instead of a purse--in short, I looked 'crunchy.'
I realized that just as I was gaping at the man who in anger pulled down the sign, perhaps he was grinning at me because he thought I would be upset.
It's true that I wouldn't have preferred that a man ride through the streets ripping down signs that ask for peace and kindness. And it's true that this sort of vandalism might be triggering, particularly in the U.S. at this moment when worse kinds of vandalism, hate speech, and outright aggression/violence are taking place.
But then, I thought about all the good I had experienced already that day--the people in the studio who woke up early to practice yoga, the beautiful weather, the potted plant I had just purchased. And I started to think about what I wanted to put out in the world.
Ripping down a sign that reminds us to be kind doesn't mean I can't be kind.
But seeing someone else rip down a sign did remind me that my sphere of control is limited to my thoughts and actions--a truth that somehow is very, very easy for me to forget.
One of the things I love about yoga, astrology, and tarot is that these tools allow us to look within. These tools allow us to choose our own path, to know our own strengths, to challenge ourselves, and to grow. These tools don't expect anyone or anything to change around us, but they train us to expect ourselves to change--to try a new path or a new pose, to experience an old path in a new way.
And, there's never the pressure to be perfect.
Metaphorically, somedays you'll be the person hanging up a "be kind" sign, and somedays you'll be the person tearing it down. The challenge of being a yogi, the challenge of being a person is to figure out what you want to put in the world each day--what you would write on a sign and hang up, and what sorts of signs you'd like to tear down.
What are the energies you want to put out in the world? What are your strengths? What are your challenges?
As always, for greater insight to these questions and more--schedule a one-on-one reading!