Years ago, a popular literary series came to a close. After the second to last book was released, the author announced they were working on what would be a final book in the series. For a year, myself, my friends who had read the series, and other readers waited to read the final installment.
The author got lazy as hell with the final book. The actual creative content related to wrapping up the storylines within the series could have been done in about ten thousand words. The rest of the book was fluff, nothing more than filler.
After I had read it, talking with another author friend of mine, we both said the same thing: selling at $7.99 for the e-book version, we both wanted our money and our time back.
I often tell my students at the college and my publishing clients to be honest in their work. You write your first draft, then your second. Then you have your book editted. You make the editing changes your editor suggests, and maybe you send it back to the editor for a second look. You either format your book yourself, or you hire someone to do it for you. You have your covers created, you have beta readers weigh in on your book. You take those steps and do all that work, because when you release a book in the world and someone reads it, they’re not only giving you their money, they’re giving you the precious gift of their time.
That author from years ago stole from not just from myself by not putting in the work, by not giving us a full story, but from those in my life who I took the time from in order to read her book.
Which brings us to the third of the yamas: Asteya, non-stealing.
There’s the obvious, literal translation of “If it ain’t yours, don’t take it, dude.” You don’t shoplift, you don’t dine and dash, you don’t take money out of another person’s wallet. But what about the less literal interpretation? What about stealing another person’s time, either by being late, causing them to do more work (an adorable gentleman in my certification program used the example of leaving his dishes in the sink for his roommate to wash), or canceling plans last minute because something better came up?
On our mat, how often do we steal from outselves the joy of the moment (whether present or future moments) by not being fully present? I’ve often lost out on the joy of learning postures or furthering my path to the full extension of postures by focusing on what my neighbor on the mat is doing, what I did in a previous practice, or whether or not I’m going to get the posture in that moment. Handstands are the posture I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my whole life; in the process of working on them, I think ahead, stealing from the present moment, in the attempt to obtain the posture itself. It’s a yogic catch-22: I want it so badly, I miss out on the journey to get to my destination.
To celebrate Asteya this week, I’m not looking past each moment as they’re given to me, whether that’s dinner with a friend, time with my kids, work, or taking yoga practice. I invite you to do the same.