Those that only take a nibble here and a nibble there will never attain anything…Those who really want to be yogis must give up, once and for all, this nibbling at things. Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life-think of it, dream of it, live on that idea.
I keep a diary of quotes for inspiration. Most of them give me positive inspiration to take action or take small steps toward wisdom. Others I contemplate because they delve deeper into an idea I’m working with or because they are new to me. Other quotes I keep because they bug me and I’d like to find out why. The quote above is one of the latter quotes.
I think promiscuous nibbling at life  gets a bum rap. Certainly the masters of their chosen field are to be admired. The passion and practice that they have put into their area of expertise have contributed to the world, and most likely, to their own lives in good and bad ways. Quite often they are recognized for what they accomplish. They are asked how they got where they are and how regular people can gain inspiration from their dedication.
If I look back on my life, I could fill a ream of paper with all the interests I’ve taken up, worked at for awhile, and then discarded. There’s plenty of societal pressure to look at this as a series of failures or lack of…something…commitment? stick-to-itiveness? willpower? I’m certainly not lacking stubbornness, as I’m sure my partner will attest.
But, as I’ve gotten older I have learned to question the SOP responses that I’ve internalized over the years from whoever “they” are. I am not sorry I quit anything. Not one thing. They are not failures or evidence of lack of moral character. Rather, I think I’ve shown a rather adept ability to be curious about new things, brave enough to try them, and to let go of anything that hasn’t served me.
But, whether that’s true or simply a question of framing, one thing that I believe is that all of that quitting has contributed to who I am. Had I kept banging away at daily piano practice or typed “the end” on that angsty tween novel, I would be someone else. She would probably have just as much of an issue with that quote, except that she would point to the music and the book and say “aha! I ate that whole cookie, even when it tasted yucky!”
This is not to say that quitting when the shite hits the fan is always a good thing. But the wisdom to cut your losses seems a lot harder to find than to ignore those warning voices and keep on truckin’. Owning the times when I’ve succeeded and failed at knowing which was better for me has helped me freely make decisions now.
So, if I’m so comfortable with my jack of all trades life, why does this quote bother me? Ironically, the answer is in the quote itself. I had to take up this one idea, think of it, dream of it, and live on it until I could get past my reaction and see the heart of Swami Vivekananda’s words.
I need to identify my path and set each of my experiences like footsteps-one after another. Rather than nibbling here and nibbling there, I need to look deeply into my decisions and see how those I have already made have lead me here, to this single track path of mine (mind?), so that I can make decisions in the present that will bring me to my own expertise of living.
If my goal is to do a handstand away from the wall before the end of 2014, I can see how scrapping this project will or will not meet my ultimate life goal. The experience of seeing what will happen alone could be enough to fulfill me now. I do not think it really matters whether I am true to myself by flipping my body upside or flipping the pages in a book if I keep to my truth.
Knowing that I have the freedom to choose actually helps me stick with the things that serve me, even when they’re yucky. I’ve found that even in the practices that stick, my time and interest wax and wane. But I worry about this less because I can tell the difference between forcing myself to continue versus kickstarting through a period of resistance.
There’s another idea that I hold dear, that is a part large part of the core Yogic tenants: tireless dedication to practice. I realized while contemplating Vivekenanda’s words that I had only looked at the single dimension of persistence and hadn’t included, which after all so much of Yoga is about, the softness that is necessary to succeed at being committed to something: the knowledge of letting go.
Whether Swami Vivekananda would agree with my interpretation of his words or not, I hope the spirit of his words remain.
What do you think about quitting and sticking to things? Is my interpretation of this quote a cop out? I’d enjoy hearing from you.
 and at yoga