I like getting A’s. A lot. They are clear-cut, unmistakable validation. Straight line up, straight line down. Inscrutable awesomeness. Like a pyramid, ready to stand the test of time.
I am a good, worthwhile person, otherwise, why else would there by an A on my paper?
It’s probably the thing I miss most about being in school – in life, there are so few A’s. As a student I was thrilled when I got A’s, and completely crushed when I didn’t, naturally.
High highs, low lows, and an affinity for A’s are just a few of the things I share with Rebecca Bunch, main character in the fantastic musical comedy show “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.” There’s self-aware humor, meta music videos (including one on yoga!), zany antics, AND a somber look at mental illness–how can you not love it?!
Her intense, impassioned approach to achieving her goals is equally hilarious and tragic–and this season, particularly illuminating. In it she attempts to recover from a particularly terrible psychological breakdown by being the very best patient she can be, filling out every workbook. But eventually, what helps her is the opposite approach: it’s only by relaxing and letting go of this pathological need to be the best. She actually aims for the C, not the A.
“My whole life, I’ve only known how to be really good or really bad,” she tells her therapist. “But being human … is living in that kinda in-between space. It’s making mistakes, and that’s really very scary, but also very cool.”
I particularly love when her therapist responds by saying, “You, my friend, get an A plus on your C plus.”
It reminds me of Doctor Who (as almost everything does, to be honest). At the beginning of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor during series 8, he asks Clara, “tell me, am I a good man?” The theme reoccurs until he comes to a similar conclusion to Rebecca’s: “I am not a good man. I am not a bad man. I am not a hero, I’m definitely not a president. And no, I’m not an officer. You know what I am? I am an idiot. With a box and a screwdriver, passing through, helping out, learning.”
This attitude doesn’t come naturally to me and my love of A’s. Being in between isn’t clear cut or simple. It’s awkward. You’re not quite sure who or what you are.
You can feel that tension physically when you are in Boat Pose, with your feet and arms stretched out and just your bottom on the floor. It’s awkward and imperfect and involves wiggling to stay upright. You tip front, you tip back.
But that balance is valuable – and not just for strengthening muscles. By being in between, we grow aware of how precarious we are, how imperfect we really are. The balance can only last so long, but we’ll do the best we can.
In Boat Pose, you are not a good yogi or a bad yogi, and in life, you are not a good person or a bad person, not completely. And that’s ok-even when I really want to have the simplicity of the A. Like Rebecca and the Doctor, as long as we’re in between, we can be perfectly imperfect.