“Don’t wear your cute sandals,” the volunteer coordinator warned. No worries there, as I glanced down at my trashed Uggs that somehow survived this record-setting Philadelphia winter. But it didn’t take long to distinguish between the seasoned volunteers and newbies gathered at the Main line Animal Rescue new volunteer orientation. I was clearly a newbie.
One woman in back was a holy mess. Her parka, shoes, pants, even her face were covered in a gumbo of mud, grass stains and doggy slobber. Beneath it all though, her bright blue eyes and massive smile sent me a powerful message:
To really connect with these dogs, to love them like you mean it, you gotta get dirty. Roll-in-the-mud-with-them dirty. Do that, and a kennel-filled load of love in return is pretty much guaranteed.
I’m no neat freak, but this was a stretch. I quickly went through a mental inventory of my grubbiest clothing – how about the old flannel shirt – wait a minute, damn! I threw all that out with our last move. What about coats? Do I really want to surrender one to that cute boxer who insists on launching up to meet me at eye level?
Hell yes. Time to get messy. Not just with the dogs, but other areas of my life too. Including my yoga.
As I practiced in my home studio later that afternoon, I caught myself being overly ‘tidy’ with my sequence. Conveniently racing through poses (extended side angle) I know will get ugly after two or three breaths. Wiping out new transition ideas before giving them a chance, fearing I wouldn’t be able to explain them well enough to my students in a future class.
As I scanned the pantry and fridge for dinner ideas, I noticed my tendency to limit options to those that required little cleanup afterward. Yeah. Seriously. A bowl of cereal instead of healthy, veggie-packed stir fry.
We hear all the virtues of being organized (people get paid to put other people’s shit in order). Ads for cleaning agents promise to kill germs. Fashionistas are lauded for being so ‘put together’. But messing it up, as I was reminded at the animal rescue farm, keeps us real. Humble. Present. Thinking back, I now realize some of my biggest messes led to my greatest happiness. These were times where I took a risk, failed, learned, failed again, learned some more, and met some really cool people in the process.
I’ll be back at the farm soon, seeking out the boxer and welcoming his muddy paws and big, slobbery kisses with all my heart. After that, I’ll be on my mat, joyfully falling out of poses and trying on ideas before my censoring mind gets in the way.
So try it – get messy. You’ll be glad you did.