I’m starting to think the wisdom is just a tertiary effect. After all, that wisdom is often the product of lessons learned… usually the hard way. And other times, or in conjunction, it comes through applying those lessons to reassess our plans, goals, and expectations. It takes humility both to learn from our mistakes, and to apply those lessons. Applying them is also, often, quite humbling – something that I am working to accept on a daily basis right now.
Although the injuries I am dealing with right now are, in the scheme of things, minor – or common chronic conditions – it has still been a disorienting and frustrating experience. What I am most struggling to learn is where the line is between making and excuses, and exercising wisdom. This is probably the first time I’ve had to really, truly admit to MYSELF (not to other people, doing it on the surface is easy!) that my body is in fact aging just like anyone else’s. I may feel in my mind like I can still do, and recover, from anything I want but it just isn’t true and it isn’t going to change.
So what has it meant? Much like during the summer, a return to basics, for one – those points of good form that my younger joints may sometimes have only paid lip service too? I see all too clearly how important they are – if I squat with my weight in my toes you better believe “coach sore knee” is going to tell me about it at length.
It’s also meant that for the second time this year I’m trying to build my squat back up from what feels like the bottom. This has been a good lesson in perspective as well as humility. Perspective, because the weight I’m sad to top out my set of five at right now out of caution was once something I was thrilled to max at. Humility because I learned the hard way a few weeks ago that stubbornly piling on weight I “know” I can do, strength wise, is not going to get me anywhere. Right now this really IS all I can do, and no, I cannot get away with rushing it through sheer force of will.
And there, for me, is the most humbling and difficult lesson of all. Up until now, most of my “life lessons” that have helped me on what I hope is only the beginning of my journey to live as a wiser person have centered around the POWER of will. I’ve been learning year after year that my will, my resolve, my choices – those are what matter, and I can’t let my body or my emotions or external obstacles stand in my way. Until one day, suddenly, letting my body temporarily stand in the way of my will has somehow become the only way forward. And it IS the only way forward, for now – but it often feels like stopping, and going back, as the things I “know” don’t quite seem to apply and I am forced to adapt.
If you find yourself on the injured list, or with a chronic pain flaring up, like me – remember, this lesson in humility, in slowing down and backing off, is humbling and disorienting: but the way to cope with what’s disorienting is simply to adapt. Turns out there IS a point at which no amount of “heart” is going to force a body through, but at the same time that heart has a boundless capacity to adapt. Don’t forget that there’s more than one way over the mountain!