"Never apologize, never explain. It's not a bad two-rule maxim for life, all things considered, but it's not very helpful when it comes to writing afterwords for books. After all, the only reason people read afterwords is for some kind of explanation for what they've read, if they haven't understood it, or for some kind of apology, if they have." - Neil Gaiman
I am currently in the process of missing (or rather skipping) my last opportunity to go to a Bikram class today. (In the middle of a 30/60 day thingie, no less.) Instead, I am sitting on my couch digesting the guacamole, cheese, and chips that I decided to eat about an hour ago. I was hungry, they were leftovers, and they were delicious. But you know what? Never apologize, never explain!! I am not going to apologize for this!! (Though technically, I guess I did just explain it. Clearly, I am not taking myself literally.)
I think a lot of us have this knee-jerk need to explain or apologize for our "bad classes." I've certainly done it plenty of times, sidling up to the desk after a wobbly class and dropping a comment about dehydration or sleep deprivation or burritos. But why? I've never had a teacher respond with, "Oh good, thanks for apologizing, cause I was really annoyed about that part when you fell out of standing bow." Our teachers don't mind that we have "bad days." They understand it, they expect it, and a lot of the time... honestly, they don't even notice it. The world doesn't revolve around me. There are plenty of other people in the room to draw the teacher's attention, and from the outside, most "bad days" look pretty similar to the normal ones. So the apology isn't REALLY for the teacher's benefit, is it? So why DO we have the impulse to say these things? Misplaced guilt over our imperfections, over our own humanity...?
This yoga, with the hard work and sweat and intensity, can feel like an atonement sometimes. We go in there and sweat out our sins - the foods, the booze, the sleepless nights, the emotional baggage - right?
The thing is, I don't really want to atone. I'd rather just own the things that I do and the choices that I make, even when they are stupid or silly. Especially then! Because none of us can be perfect. That's not even an appropriate goal, at the end of the day. All we can be is ourselves - struggling, sweating, trying, standing up, falling down, fucking it up, putting it back together, trying again. Human. So be human. Unapologetically.
My friend reminded me of a lovely line from my favorite book this weekend: "You have to do the pose wrong a thousand times before you can do it right once." I like this, because reminds me that we are doing the right thing by being imperfect. The only way to "get it right" is by making a hundred, a thousand, even a million mistakes first. Never feel badly about that! Just accept it, appreciate it, and keep on keeping on.
DISCLAIMER: DO, of course, remember to mention something that might be relevant, like an injury or surgery, to your teacher before class... help them to help you!!