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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Nate decided Monday morning that he doesn't want to play guitar anymore. As an experiment in letting him meander, I had ceased all nagging about practicing guitar. He wanted to start it; he wanted to continue it after soccer, so I let him be.

He did not practice all week; hence, he was lousy at his songs. After much ado (yelling, unfortunately, on both sides), he announced he did not want to play guitar as it was not his "thing." It was too much sitting.

The hard part for me? Letting him quit.When you let people choose their pursuits, your own expectations come rocketing to the surface. I want him to have success, so we talked about how something worth doing is hard and requires you coming back to it again and again.

Still -- he wanted to be done.

Fine, then. He had to be the one to talk to his teacher--a man who Nate adores. That brought up another round of resistance. He didn't want to "hurt [the teacher's] feelings." I held firm. It you want to steer your life, buddy, you have to take the wheel. Call him and tell him. After an hour's deliberation, Nate called.

I am disappointed. I don't want Nate to be a quitter.

But I was a quitter. I quit piano --twice--because I hated practicing. I started gymnastics as a tall and plump thirteen year old and quit after a couple weeks because it felt humiliating to be so much bigger than my teachers. I have quit jobs that were no longer in line with my interests or convenient (most I quit tactfully; one--I just called in and never went back). To quit is to say, "This is not my path."

Some things I quit and regret, like when I gave up my dream of massage therapy school in favor of going to university because it seemed more scholarly, more the thing to do. I spent three years and 25K to "appear" smart. That's pretty stupid.

Other things I have quit:

  • My senior class trip to Florida --something we had fund raised for since sixth grade--in favor of going on a late winter backpacking trip in the Porcupine Mountains of the Upper Peninsula.   My classmates couldn't understand it: I chose snowshoes over flip flops. It was one of the top experiences of my life; I came home a different person.
  • Working at a college as a library aide and a composition teacher, on the cusp of starting graduate school. After staying home with my kids for the month of June, I realized how much I was missing by chasing a career. What was my hurry? I quit the job and backed out of grad school (saving another 25K, no doubt). This opened up time and money for six months later when yoga training became available--a path I would not have followed if immersed in work and grad school.
  • Competing with people:  their money, their status, their bodies, their talents. Competition can propel people forward, but it drives me into anxiety. I'm a working-class nobody. I rather like it. I have not lived up *nearly* to my potential. The rent is too high there.
 So even if I have to sit on my tongue and bite my hands, I am going to let go of this Q-word judgment and see what happens.


  1. I relate to this SO much. Especially about competing with people. Still trying to figure out what my path is...a few months from turning 30.

  2. Jen, we have to find a substitute for the Q word. Maybe, changing one's mind or needing to keep searching. You gave positive examples of each of these substitutes from your own life.
    I don't think I would have your patience...........................

  3. So here's the upside: Nathan is on a chess kick. He wants to play every day. We played at the library today, just to play on another set. He plays our computer game; he plays me--and has beat me every time for the last several tries. There's no nagging, no yelling; he just does it. That's how our hobbies should be, no?--something in which you find joy and refuge. I wonder if he would be so keen on it if he were losing more.

  4. I don't think you quit any of your three bullet points. You just moved on. (Or up, rather.)

    I forgot that you didn't go on your Sr trip. Was that the year of the big accident? Or was that the following year?

  5. The car accident happened on my third time up; we never made it. I was 20. My first time up, I was 17.

  6. I think we attach so many difficult feelings and judgement to ourselves that we let the life pass by unnoticed. Is it a big deal if something is not for you? The sooner you realize the better.