|Illness brings out |
my inner child.
I recently finished The Lotus Blossom, by D.M. Kenyon. It was a wonderful read that planted thoughts in my mind like seeds—images and ideas that have kept growing beyond the last page. One of those seeds was a scene in which Madison (now called Lhamo) endures a grueling test at her dojo. She has to fight off a continual onslaught of attackers as long as possible before collapsing into unconsciousness.
Rinchen says that most people never know failure because they quit way before they fail. Quitting is choosing to surrender. It is the choice to stop before you are at the end of yourself. Failure is letting go of a need to reach the end, giving it your all and accepting whatever happens. It is a beautiful place, failure. Almost nobody ever really knows it.
-D. M. Kenyon, The Lotus Blossom
I read this and thought: Have I ever pushed myself to my physical limit? I don't think so.
Growing up, I believed I was the kid who wasn't strong enough to really push herself, and I thought my character must be as weak as my body.
I was the kid who ended up gasping for air in the nurse’s office every time she had to run a mile in gym class. I was the kid who would be out for two weeks because of a cold, with doctors shrugging and saying, “That’s just you, kiddo.” I was the kid whose sister named her Kermit for the color of her snot.
I was the kid who fell out of the raft not once, but twice, on a Class I river.
I was the adult who slowly worked her way up from being a walker to a runner over the course of three months, only to end up with an angry sciatic nerve that, four years after the return to walking, still holds a grudge.
|I'm a walker. That's me.|
I'm a walker. Yippee.
I am the adult who has been wanting to join a paranormal YA book club, but just had to cancel for the fourth month in a row (the second time for illness). I had to admit defeat, again, and all I can do is hope that the friend who invited me doesn't think I'm a freak, or a liar, or both.
Above all else, I am the adult who has to be an adult about her limits, because if I push past them, the aftermath affects my kids and my husband and anyone else who counts on me.
There’s a woman in my Pilates class who broke her knee from repetitive stress by running twenty miles on a treadmill. She’s that kind of athlete—one who pushes on no matter what. She said she’d torn an achilles tendon on a mountain bike the same way, pushing through. It healed in six months and she went right back to training hard.
I’ve always believed that’s the kind of person you need to be if you want to be successful in life. If I were that kind of person, I’d probably have gone to medical school. I’d be thinner. I’d be richer. I’d be closer to perfect in every way. I should be like her… but I'm not.
Yesterday, at Kid #1’s baseball practice, I sat in the grass with Kid #2, feeling sorry for myself because I was short of breath and Kid #2 wanted to do something active and I just wanted to go to bed. I saw something move on my hand and stifled a little scream, and Kid #2 freaked out. He has inherited my fear of bugs. I forced myself to calm down and let the bug stay on my hand. I showed it to him. He scooted away from me, but he kept his eyes trained on the critter inching its way across my wrist. It looked a little like a caterpillar, but shorter and not very cute.
Kid #2 didn’t get over his fear of bugs in one afternoon, nor did I. Eventually we had to move if I wanted him to sit in the grass again. Still, we had shared a moment.
In the grand scheme of things, I get disappointed in what my body can do, but I also don't take my good-enough health for granted. Maybe I really do need 8 hours of sleep. Maybe while my kids are young and acting as germ mules, I’ll end up canceling a lot of social events and feeling lame every time.
Maybe I accomplish things more slowly than I’d like. Maybe fighting that head-on is like trying to move the tide back out with a bucket.
We celebrate people who push themselves physically, but maybe I need to start thinking about other ways to push myself. I want to let go of my need to reach the end. To give it my all and accept whatever happens. To reach that beautiful place that Lhamo planted in my mind.
I want to take my kids camping and teach them not to be afraid of the creepy crawlies. I want to hear my husband’s worries or a child’s sadness and swallow my own feelings long enough to be their rock the way they are mine. I want to open my Scrivener file, panic that I have no idea what I’m doing and this writing thing was a huge mistake, and keep working anyway. And then I want to send it to my critique partner and say: This is me. This is the best I could do, but I’m not giving up.
After I get my full night’s rest, take two Sudafed, do my sinus rinse, steam my lungs, and sip chicken broth… I will still have choices. There will still be limits worth pushing and victories worth claiming.
But first, I need more soup.