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We Keep On Falling September 29, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.

“‘For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.’”

Mishlei – Proverbs (24:16)

Here we are again. We spent some time “remembering, reflecting, repenting, and planning.” We were inspired and filled with momentum, ready for better days… And then, the inevitable happens: we fall, we stumble, we trip; we fail. We may be all the way back to square one or squarely behind the 8-ball; either way, we have a moment where we feel like we suck and it sucks to be us.

But, here’s the thing. Everyone fails. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has a setback. Think of Thomas Edison who famously said that he had had not failed 10,000; he hadn’t even failed once. He said, instead, “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That right there is the perspective of a man who gets up. That right there is the resilient attitude of a person who learns not only from “mistakes,” but also from things just not going according to their plan. The lesson for today, however, is more than just about our character being defined by what happens IF we fall – cause, come on, we’re going to fall. The lesson is even about more than how we rise back up. Today is also about how we respond when someone else falls and how we set ourselves up for success.

“‘When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, let your heart not exult, lest the Lord see and be displeased, and turn His wrath away from him. Do not compete with evildoers; do not envy the wicked’”

Mishlei – Proverbs (24:17 -19)

In his podcast, Armchair Expert, the actor Dax Shepard recently admitted that he had fallen off the wagon after 16 years of sobriety. No, he did not go back to imbibing his drugs of choice – and that’s a blessing and a reason to celebrate – but he did start running (backwards) down a slippery slope. As he details in the podcast, his slip came with all the bad behavior of someone who had never been sober… and all the hubris of someone who had spent almost 2 decades actively being sober. The podcast episode was recorded right at the beginning of the high holidays; so (in my head), it’s cool that he started the new year doing exactly what is recommended to wipe the slate clean. What’s kind of gut wrenching to hear, as he talks about owning up to his mistakes and asking forgiveness from his wife, Kristen Bell, as well as from his podcast co-host, Monica Padman, and all his friends is how much time he spent twisting the poisoned arrow (and the second arrow).

Remember, in Buddhism there are two parables about arrows. In the case of the poisoned arrow, a man is shot with a poisoned arrow while surrounded by people who want to help save his life. The man, however, is so focused on why his shot (and all the particulars about the person that shot him) that the poison seeps into his bloodstream and kills him. In the story about the second arrow, the Buddha points out that when a person is shot by one arrow after the other (both non-poisonous), the first arrow represents physical pain; while the second arrow is the emotional and mental suffering we add to the experience. Dax Shepard admitted he spent a lot of time not being honest simply because of his comparison to others, the possible judgment of others, and the fact that he didn’t want to “lose” the accomplishment of all those years of sobriety. To his credit, he is figuring out a way to let the people around him help him. To his credit, he is figuring out the blessing of gratitude. His story may be more dramatic than ours and may have more public details, but we’ve all been in situations where we thought we had something figured out and then…. Oops, not so much.

There is yet another piece to (t)his story. It involves the homonyms “fell” and “fail.” Think for a moment about how admitting that we “fell” puts the events firmly in the past and allows us to focus on the present, as it moves into the future. When we use the word “fail” we get stuck. Because it is in the present tense – and, even when conjugated, can feel very active – we may focus on past events as if they are our present, future, and forever condition. Take a moment, to consider what happens when we put the falling in the past and rise up. Yes, life (or people) may knock us down again, but in this moment there is a lesson about how to do things differently.

“My fears were the opposite of what the result was.”

– Dax Shepard, quoted from an Armchair Expert episode “Day 7” (recorded September 21, 2020)

Please join me today (Tuesday, September 29th) at 12 Noon or 7:15 PM for a virtual yoga practice on Zoom, where we will do what we do. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Tuesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.



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