I love playing pool. Like in pool billiards, you know. Back when I was a student, pool was just entering Romania, as a new and somehow exotic pastime. There was an inflation of places where you could learn and play. Even in the student campuses there were at least 4-5 tables, many of them taken non-stop. I remember that I even entered a competition, and won the third place, finishing with a 3 ricochets stroke for the black ball. Those were the times.

But I’m not gonna talk about pool in this post. I’m gonna talk about teaching tango. Pool is just a metaphor. Confused? Good, then keep on reading, it will all fall into places soon.

Teaching Tango

A month ago I started to teach tango. I did a lot of weird things in my life, but teaching tango wasn’t on that list. Until now, of course.

The reason I started to teach tango, however, had nothing to do with it. I was aiming for something else, and teaching tango was just a pretext. In other words, it was just a part of a bigger plan, a plan which seemed pretty damn good at that moment. I was caught in a very personal vision of what my future should look like and I was determined to do everything I could to make that future real. Somehow, teaching tango seemed like a good temporary workaround.

But, just a few days after I started to teach tango, something happened. Suddenly, the future that I envisioned didn’t seem much fun anymore. As a matter of fact, I started to feel like, until that very moment, I was wearing some sort of pink colored glasses, which prevented me to see people for who they really are. People who should be part of that future, mind you. Slowly, day after day, the premises of that big plan were more and more weak. Until, a couple of days ago, I realized that my initial plan for the future was an impossible dream. Not because it couldn’t happen, I still can do whatever I want, if I put my mind to it, but because I didn’t like it anymore. People that should be part of that future were no longer fun to have around, to say the least. And the most surprising part is that they were always like that, it was me who was blinded and thought they were somebody else. So, it wasn’t them, it was me.

At the same time, though, something nice starting to unfold. The tango classes, that is. Day after day, showing up, explaining, being there and giving advice, following up, all that stuff was magically touching some inside buttons. Buttons that I didn’t even know I have. Buttons that were making me feel good. Fulfilled. Valuable. I woke up all of a sudden in a new position, that of being a tango teacher, with all the challenges and perks of it. And I have to tell you that I really love both the challenges and the perks.

So, while I was aiming for a thing, I got another one. The first thing seemed like a good idea, but it turned out it wasn’t. And the thing I actually got, that of teaching tango, proved to be a real asset.

Sometimes, Life Is Just A Game Of Pool

It’s like in a game of pool billiards: you aim for a certain ball, hit it and, alas, you miss. The ball doesn’t go into the pocket. But, from the ricochet, some other ball enters in another pocket. Even more, the entire table looks way better now, you’re in a better position to win, because the balls were rearranged from that ricochet in a much more favorable position.

I call these balls that you miss “decoys”. You’re lured to follow them, to desperately try to push them into their “pockets”,  and to miss those hits, only to see how, from the ricochet, other balls are entering into other pockets, just like you have to enter into another area of your life. You keep your eyes on a certain goal, that goal is never reached, but, somewhere in the process you’ve been hooked with something else. Although you may regret for a while the missing goal, you’ll soon realize not only that it wasn’t a viable goal, but that the thing (or persons, or contexts, or jobs) you’ve been hooked to –  as a “side” effect of not reaching that goal – are more valuable and really good for you.

I’m sure you’ve all have had these “decoys” stories. Maybe you’ve been trying to get a job at a big corporation, failing at it, and realized afterwards that you don’t really like that job, but that, somewhere along the lines, you’ve been hooked with a new skill, or a new context that proved to be beneficial for you. And maybe you even started your own business, because you “missed” the corporate job ball.

Sometimes, There Is No Lesson In Life

There are more than 650 personal development articles on this blog. I think at least 500 of them are about a specific lesson that I thought I should learn in my life. But, sometimes, we don’t need a lesson. Sometimes, things aren’t all lined up in front of us. Sometimes it’s chaos and confusion and unpredictability.

After realizing the subtle hazard that sometimes governs our lives, that game of ricochets which we can’t really control, I came to the understanding that sometimes I’m just part of a thing bigger than me. And I have to just go along with the flow, and just live. And enjoy the ricochets, no matter where they’re gonna send me.

Life is not always a lesson to be learned. Most of the time, I think, it’s a mystery to be experienced.

3 thoughts on “Decoys”

  1. Looks like you are talking about finding spirituality. We can get sidetracked so easily in our modern, hectic, materialistic world. A lot of all this is out of our control, but if you can find what makes you feel one with yourself and the world you have found the secret of life. Really great post!

  2. I like the pool analogy, and I agree with what you’re saying with it. Some people are conditioned to think a nice house, two cars, a wife and two kids is the ultimate goal. Lots of angst ridden teenagers dream about becoming players, some even desperately try to become one. I always imagine that the only thing you’d feel if you reach such a goal, is an overwhelming emptiness, and the question “what now?” on replay in your mind.

    And I’m definitely familiar with the experience of thinking I want a certain kind of people in my social circle, only to find that we don’t mix well at ALL.

    I like to think that I have some control over my life, but I definitely think sometimes you just have to let go and go with the flow.


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