I Couldn’t Burn My Journals

People tell me I help them. I like to hear that, of course, but the truth is, the people who say that to me (my yoga students, and more recently my Health Coaching clients) often help me ten times more that I help them.

I am not being humble here. It’s just a fact.

Here’s a recent example.

That “journal burning” plan I described in my last post? Yeah. It never happened.

I mean, it almost happened. I had the mountain of my life all piled up, the chiminea all set to go, I had a big pitcher of gin and tonics at my elbow to fuel my courage. And then I lost it. I couldn’t do it, even though the conditions were perfect, and I had it all reasoned through.

I couldn’t light that match.

After a mini nervous breakdown,involving a lot of snot and tears, I downed that big pitcher of G&Ts, went to bed and slept like shit. Got up early the next morning, depressed and slightly hungover. I had an appointment to meet a client.

I put on my best Health Coach face, but he saw through it.

“No, no, I’m fine,” I insisted.

“Are you sure? because you don’t look like yourself.”

“No, really. I’m fine.”

That day we took our meeting to the track for a “Walk and Talk.”

He hates to walk. He was grumpy. I was grumpy too, so to take his mind off his hatred of walking, and mine off my defeated mood, I told him my story of the journals and the aborted bonfire.

“And you know what the big take-away was from all this?” I said.

“No. What?”

“Nobody changes.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am dead serious,” I said. “Think of anybody you have known for a long time–10, 20, 30 years or more, even yourself. Have you really changed? I mean really, fundamentally? I’m talking your basic nature here: your propensities, your weaknesses, your strengths?

Aren’t they basically the same today as they were 30 years ago? Haven’t you just been cycling through paler or more vivid expressions of who you have always been since you were like, 20?

We walked another lap in silence.

As we walked I sorely regretted saying that. Not that I didn’t believe it, and not that it didn’t seem painfully true for me after just having read through the last 40 years of my life in those damned journals. But I was saying this to a client (who also happens to be a friend) but who has come to me to help him CHANGE and here I was telling him that I didn’t believe people really change.

After walking a lap in silence, he said, “What about war? Or personal tragedies like illnesses or deep loss? You don’t think people change when things like that happen to them?”

I had to concede.

“Yeah, maybe. But from what I have seen, when horrible things happen to people their essential nature tends to becomes more revealed; it comes into even sharper focus.”

“Can we stop for a minute here?” he said.

“Look. It seems really clear to me that you are not ready to burn those journals. Is somebody putting a gun to your head? Why don’t you just put them back in the bin and deal with them some other day? Or maybe not at all. Someday you may be ready to get rid of them, but it’s certainly not now.”

So I took his advice, went home and put them all back under the basement steps. I felt instantly relieved, unburdened, and happy.

And the moral of this story? Or at least one of them?

People come into your life for a reason. They come disguised as friends, co-workers, clerks in stores, lovers, students and antagonists.

Sometime you welcome them, sometimes you try to avoid them, but they all have a part in your story, and they all help advance your plot.

I am so happy (now) that I didn’t burn my journals. Had I done so, that act might have had ramifications down the road that I now see I might have regretted. My friend was able to feel my resistance and mirror it to back to me, and for that I am so grateful.

Namaste, friend. Namaste.


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