Issue #119: Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy
Thao Thai and my awkward yoga encounter.
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📚 Yours for the Taking by Gabrielle Korn: “I remember the era of the girlboss,” a mom laments to her daughter in 2050, “I lived through it.” It’s one of many ways Korn plays with the cyclical nature of history, specifically feminism and climate activism, in her new novel. The non-girlboss-girlboss in question is Jacqueline Millender, a billionaire who hails power over empowerment and is the director of The Inside Project in Manhattan, a climate change-resistant structure built around the city. While reading an advance copy of Korn’s novel, I had the curious experience of feeling like I was reading a sequel to my own upcoming novel, which is also set in the near-future, contends with climate change, and alternates between the perspectives of three women, including a Elizabeth Holmes-y billionaire. Needless to say, I devoured it and enjoyed Korn’s imaginative rendering of the not-so-distant future.
🎧 ‘Forever is a Long Time’ Podcast: At the time radio producer Ian Coss married his wife Kelsey, every living member of Ian’s family was divorced. Years after his own wedding, Ian interviewed those family members about their own marriages and divorces. While there isn’t necessarily anything groundbreaking about the conversations Ian has, it’s fascinating to listen to people reckon with such huge expectations and their downfalls (especially Ian’s parents in the first episode), particularly as I do the same in the aftermath of my own (this is an older podcast, but I discovered it after hearing about his newer project, ‘The Big Dig’).
📺 ‘Julia’ on Max: Once you’ve caught up on the latest episode of “Lessons in Chemistry,” consider the parallel story of Julia Child in this extremely cheesy, but exceedingly heartwarming series on Max. The latest season just came out, which follows Child after the success of “The French Chef,” cooking across France. Side note: Watching and cooking to Child’s original episodes, many of which are available on YouTube, is an evening well-spent.
By the time I arrived, breathless and late, to my favorite hot yoga class, the only remaining spot was in the center of the room. I carefully stepped around mats, too flustered to fully register the woman watching me as I unrolled my own.
Thirty seconds into our first flow, it dawned on me that I recognized her. I tried not to stare at my ex-husband’s current partner, who was now flowing effortlessly from Chaturanga into an elegant up-dog. Exhale, downward facing dog. Her eyes, I had to presume, were boring into the back of my sweaty ponytail.
In yoga classes, comparison is strongly discouraged. We’re told to keep our eyes on our mat, to turn inward in order to acknowledge and honor our own practice; to take Child’s Pose when we need it and to only progress from Malasana Squat into Crow Pose if it serves us. This time is for you, alone. It’s a difficult enough task in a studio of strangers—I’ve often tipped forward into Crow to serve my own ego—and it felt next to impossible in her presence. Every gentle reminder to “focus on your own practice” went flying out the vaulted skylight (that somehow streamed sunbeams on her mat alone?).