Muscles grow stronger by breaking down the fibrous tissue and, in the methodical breakdown and body’s healing process the muscles emerge stronger. You give your muscles time off to heal so that when you lift again you lift heavier and start the breakdown over again. That sounds in the least irrational, at worst, nearly impossible; break to grow, break to solidify, and break to grow stronger.
The last two weeks have been a constant emotional bombardment that has left me at a cross roads of conflicting perspective, a confusing place where strength, exhaustion, health, happiness, destruction, and humanity are at odds but somehow co-exist perfectly. I don’t know what I think and I am certain all I feel is “tired” which is not nearly descriptive enough. I’m fairly certain that the answer isn’t in finding one. That it’s about acknowledging that diametrically opposed emotions can exist side-by-side harmoniously. That I can appreciate something that horrifies me and that I cannot and should not fully understand something that compels me and that breaks me all at once. Up isn’t up anymore, and I’m trying to be okay with that. I don’t have much of a choice. It’s been decided for me.
Recent health issues have forced me to take a physical break. I’ve battled and am battling infections that are actively taking their toll emotionally, mentally, and physically making it nearly impossible for me to see myself as anything but tenuous and compromised. Ironically, this comes on the heels of witnessing one of the most remarkable physical endurance challenges completed by someone I care about that both engaged my mind and rocked my sensibilities about what is possible, what we should expect of ourselves, and what it takes to move past what’s realistic into what’s possible. I don’t think I have the words to describe what it was to watch that happen and how it felt to actively shift my perspective while in a deeply emotional state. How being compelled to believe in someone despite what my eyes and my experiences were telling me and how life-changing it is to understand now how close breaking down is to breaking through.
So many times in the past two weeks, I have found myself in a place where laughter and tears were separated by one, single, solitary heartbeat, and surrendering to one or the other was often arbitrary and engaged my whole body and all my senses as it happened. Living inside moments completely, with pure focus and thoughtfulness engaged me in a way that felt luxurious and almost irresponsible and I was grateful for the simplest of things and the grace of better people who surrounded me in those moments.
Even as I write this, I can’t fully synthesize what I feel and letting the words tumble onto the paper with very little reverence is liberating and makes me feel lighter with each key stroke. One of my mantras while training has always been, “I am not this fragile body.” But today, the only thing I know for sure is that I am this fragile body. But fragility is impermanent, fleeting, and is merely an acknowledgement that more is possible. Part of being strong for me now, is tending to what needs tending.
There is so much I don’t know. I find myself recognizing that I am as strong as I have always believed and as weak as I have always feared. I can’t outrun myself, despite my best intentions I am not going to have everything I need when I need it. Life is a series of moments bundled together to form habits, experiences, and realities. We control how we perceive those moments and how we manage them but the moments themselves hold no power just possibility; the possibility of success or failure, net gain or net loss, and lessons learned or begotten. So, I find myself in this series of moments, in realities I can’t fully understand and I won’t ever be able to sort it out completely but I can appreciate the depth, complexity and opportunity that it presents
I was told this week that it’s time to take a break. It’s not my choice anymore and even as I opened my mouth to protest there was nothing I could realistically retrieve that justified continuing forward. I carry so much, for so many, and have for so long, I’m not even sure what it all is anymore and what is even useful and adding value. Unpacking that burden piece by piece is reminding me that it isn’t about proving that you can, but being deliberate about what you should. Being strong looks a lot differently to me today than it did a couple weeks ago. I have to let what I can’t do today redefine what’s possible for me tomorrow. To grow this time, I have to surrender to the break.