Updated: Feb 5, 2022
The night before my birthday, in the last hours of ever being 46, a clear question arose; what if you no longer have anything to prove? This sounds silly doesn’t it. Why would a grown adult in a health/healing profession feel the need to prove herself? But as I held the question, my whole body relaxed. It sounded so nice, to have nothing to prove! Then on my birthday at the ski mountain I overheard a couple of men around 60 talking about whether to slow down their careers at this point in life. One said “I still seem to have so much to prove, isn’t that crazy?”
Almost daily I tell patients it’s ok to rest, it’s ok to quit your job if it’s ruining your life, it’s ok to be single if the alternative is a terrible relationship. But this tiger, approaching the tiger year, is realizing I came in hot with the imperative to prove my indomitable strength; a certain orange stripe in my nature. As a woman, I’ve spent decades hoping to prove I’m attractive enough. As a single person with no kids, prove my life is worthy and meaningful. And as a small business owner who has yet to own a home or have a robust retirement plan, don’t I need to prove that what I’m doing with my life is reasonable?! The Imperialist narrative and Capitalist drive has us all very confused about what our life is about and thus the choices we make.
When I heard that guy, I thought about the last tiger year (2010); how scared and confused I was, living in a moldy overpriced apartment in noisy Oakland, deeply in debt, scrambling a flailing practice and managing illness and chronic pain. I thought about how that orange stripe made me able to run like a tiger out of so many major life obstacles, into a life now that is very different, much safer and easier and generative. But there was also a black stripe then and now, and this is what that man’s question is conjuring.
In order to run 180 mph after prey, a tiger also needs to be able to collapse for as long as it takes to get its powerful energy back. Then and now, I had people who loved me, I had awareness of the need to slow down, receive, crouch in the tall grass. So during this upcoming tiger year, I hope to continue to cultivate my black stripe. I hope that man and all of us can laugh at ourselves or anyone else trying to prove anything. Because it’s beautiful if you can run fast, but that’s not the whole of who you are. With nothing to prove, you’re just here. And even with all of its uncertainties, symptoms, disappointments and setbacks, turns out “here” is quite lovely, perfectly striped.