my real self vs. my imagined self

I just received my Kripalu yoga catalog in the mail today. Looking through it always reminds me of the difference between my real self and the person I imagine myself wanting to be. This isn’t a bad thing, just a curious occurrence. I think we all have an idealized image of ourselves, of who we might become if only we didn’t have to work and pay bills. I’ve been to Kripalu, and it’s a truly magical place. The night I was last there, we were on our way to visit family in Upstate New York. We needed a break and stopped for a restorative vegetarian dinner. As we were leaving, people were chanting kirtan in the main chapel, their voices floating up through the open windows into the night air as we walked to our car. I often think about returning there, and this is when visions of my imagined self start to take over. My imagined self is the one who eats a strict vegetarian diet and has the body of an Olympic swimmer. This imagined self sticks to routines, exercises regularly, is spiritually advanced, and never loses his temper. But my real self worries constantly about money and the peeling paint on his bathroom ceiling, about the furnace breaking down and the old tree in his front yard crashing through the roof while his family sleeps. My real self does the best he can, caring for his family, working hard, trying to be the best husband and father that he can be. Buddhism was once described to me as simply doing what’s required. That’s what I try to do every day, but sometimes I wonder if I don’t have an imaginary twin somewhere, living in a secluded mountain yoga retreat. It’s morning, and right now he is meditating and doing sun salutations. He’s waiting for me to join him. But I can’t at the moment. I’m too busy enjoying my real self’s life.

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