Learning to Forget Myself

I can’t run away from my problems when I’m stuck at home

Courage and fear live together

Like the Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I was ashamed of my fear.

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz.

“All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”

— L. Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

I can’t run away from myself during Social Distancing

Thanks to COVID-19, being home alone has given me time and space to revisit those lingering thoughts of fear and inadequacy.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

— Blaise Pascal, “Pensées”

To fight the mind-numbing nothingness, I’ve been reading, dancing, and learning Spanish and Portuguese at home.

“A lot of athletes think the trick to getting better is just to work harder. But there is a great power in non-action and non-thinking.

The hardest thing, after all the work and all the time spent on training and technique, is just being fully present in the moment.”

— Phil Jackson, “The Mindful Athlete”

Finding freedom in learning

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.”

We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed.

When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear.

We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development.

The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies.

Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”

W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

I love learning languages — It’s fun and challenging on a good day.

“Anxiety is fear about what may happen in the future, and it occurs only when the mind is imagining what the future may bring.

But when your attention is on the here and now, the actions which need to be done in the present have their best chance of being successfully accomplished, and as a result the future will become the best possible present. ”

W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

I think this is the same reason why I feel that a week of travel is richer and more meaningful than a month of my normal, daily routine — It has nothing to do with the wonderful places and great people I meet on my adventures.

Thinking is the enemy

“But of course the instant I try to make myself relax, true relaxation vanishes, and in its place is a strange phenomenon called “trying to relax.”

Relaxation happens only when allowed, not as a result of “trying” or “making.”

W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

My dance teachers always tell me to relax and let go. Stop thinking.

“Focus is not achieved by staring hard at something. It is not trying to force focus, nor does it mean thinking hard about something.

Natural focus occurs when the mind is interested. When this occurs, the mind is drawn irresistibly toward the object (or subject) of interest.

It is effortless and relaxed, not tense and overly controlled.”

W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

Life is dance as dance is life.

Frozen was right — LET IT GO!!!

“At that point you’re really not thinking, you’re just letting it happen.

It’s a mixture of being completely focused, then slightly not caring.”

— Shaun White (describing “the Zone”)

Of course, life’s a paradox.

“It is perplexing to wonder why we ever leave the here and now.

Here and now are the only place and time when one ever enjoys himself or accomplishes anything.

Most of our suffering takes place when we allow our minds to imagine the future or mull over the past.

Nonetheless, few people are ever satisfied with what is before them at the moment.

Our desire that things be different from what they are pulls our minds into an unreal world, and consequently, we are less able to appreciate what the present has to offer.

Our minds leave the reality of the present only when we prefer the unreality of the past or future.”

W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

English teacher, language lover, and dancer. I write about learning languages, dance, and personal growth. http://jjwong.net I IG: thejjwong

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