what gets you up in the morning?

I think it was in 2009 when I met a dude that changed my life.

Fast forward to now…that man is not (and never was) a partner of mine. He was never a permanent fixture in my life. I honestly don’t even speak to him anymore.

We simply spent about 4 days together while I was visiting a friend in Mississippi and I learned more about spirituality in those four days, and more about myself, than I have at any other time in my life.

WHAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?

I went down to Mississippi for my best friend’s wedding, I was her maid of honor. He was the best man. It was a small wedding and we all convened on The Magnolia State from the far reaches of the country. So I had no interaction with him or anyone else in the wedding party prior to the actual wedding.

There was a big storm the night before the wedding and we had to move the festivities from the beach to a room in the hotel overlooking the beach. I think Biloxi is basically below sea level, so why anyone would build anything right on the beach is beyond me. But, I digress…

After the wedding, I went outside because I saw Adam, the best man, doing something down on the beach. Writing in the sand, I guess.

Beaches are pretty much my jam, having grown up on Maui. Any excuse to wiggle my toes in the sand is a good one. So I went down to chat with him. That was the first conversation that was longer than an introduction that we had since we arrived.

“whatcha up to?” (me)

“I like to write the word ‘permanence’ in the sand quickly before the waves come up to wash it away. I do it every time I’m at the beach.” (Adam)

Uh, ok. I’ve lived on the beach my entire life and never once did any kind of exercise like that (mind you, I was 23 at the time). The next question he asked me nearly knocked me off my feet.

“so, what get’s you up in the morning?”

He later told me that the question was meant to A.) break the ice and B.) see what someone is made of. But I was so taken aback (and probably a little triggered) by the question that I, of course, had to give him an asshole answer:

“well, my alarm clock”

The truth was, I had no answer for that question. I had never thought about what I live for even once in my life until then.

To this day, it is the most powerful and uncomfortable question anyone has ever asked me.

BOUNDARIES ARE MOVABLE.

That isn’t where the story ends. We ended up spending the next few days in some of the deepest, most meaningful conversation I’d had until that time. He showed me and taught me things that I had not heretofore understood.

And I’d like to think I did the same for him. He even wrote a story about the experience (non-fiction, so I guess it’s really a mini-memoir)…but I’ll tell you more about that a bit later.

What I really want to talk about is why that was such an uncomfortable experience for me.

Dharma is a concept in yoga that we discuss as ‘the cosmic order of things’. In other words, dharma gives us our boundaries. To exist in the natural world, you need boundaries. Boundaries, like gravity, which helps you cling to the earth while it’s spinning around in space. Boundaries, like your skin, which holds all of your organs in and keeps them from flopping all over the floor.

However, the fact that these boundaries exist does not mean they cannot move. Even the gravitational constant has been shown in different studies to have varied since it was first measured. So, even gravity isn’t a hard and fast law.

Boundaries are moveable.

And the reason why it made me so uncomfortable to consider my why, to actually have a reason to get up and live my life every morning, was because it was rubbing up against a very clear boundary of mine.

And that just wasn’t comfortable for me.

LET’S GET UNCOMFORTABLE.

Since that day and through many, many hours of yoga practice I have come to the not-so-surprising realization that rubbing up against your boundaries can help to move them. You can literally walk right up to your own boundaries and push them further out.

It’s expansion.

And it’s usually not so much fun. But necessary, nonetheless.

It’s the same process by which you get better at a sport, or learn a new skill. When you start, it’s uncomfortable. It’s clunky. Everything feels foreign. Then, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And eventually, you don’t even have to think about it and you can basically do it on autopilot.

It’s a lot like that forearm stand I’ve been working on.

When I started practicing yoga, the idea of getting my feet above my head in ANY capacity was intimidating and frankly, laughable. Today, when I step on my mat and try for that forearm stand, sometimes it’s elusive. Sometimes I stick it like an old pro. Every single time, it’s difficult as fuck.

And someday it won’t be.

But it takes discomfort to get into comfort. It takes work to get to ease. It takes a little effort to push out those boundaries so you can make room for something new.

So, it’s time to get uncomfortable, my friends.

YOU’RE VULNERABLE, YET UNASSAILABLE.

Back to the story that Adam wrote about our experience together. I wanted to circle back to this because I just found a copy of it a few days ago and what it said surprised me.

In his words, “Never in my life…would I ever have the courage to say such a thing in such a situation. Were I to struggle all my days to reach such a level of honest humility and wise devotion to the ugly truth, I could never hope to come close. It was so disarming. It made her seem so vulnerable and yet unassailable. There was absolutely nothing I could do but rejoice in the potency of her sincerity…”

To put that in context, he was talking about how I just unabashedly announced to him (someone I had known for, maybe, 30 hours) that I liked to poop.

Anyway, it surprised me because it didn’t at all feel that way about myself at the time. It didn’t feel unassailable. I didn’t feel sincere.

Vulnerable, maybe. But not in the way that Brene Brown means it when she says “there isn’t a single occurrence of courage that wasn’t borne of vulnerability.”

I felt lost and lonely. I felt like an imposter. I felt like ‘they’ would catch on to me at any moment and they’d figure out I was a phony. I felt like I was floundering to find my way.

I didn’t know my why.

In hindsight, I can see that’s exactly what it feels like when growth is happening. That’s what it feels like to sit with your discomfort. That’s what it feels like to push on your boundaries. And when you’re on the other side of that, at least for a little while, you ARE unassailable.

So…what get’s YOU up in the morning?


Originally published at rebeccadiliberto.com on February 28, 2017.