That last one struck particularly because, ironically, my only new year's resolution this year was to make it to the starting line and finish line of the marathon healthy and injury-free. I literally have a list that's still tacked up on my wall entitled, "2018 Mobility / Injury Prevention Plan!" and I stuck to it. I foam rolled. I drank vitamins and electrolytes. I cross trained more than I had in years. I took epsom salt baths. I saw my PT once a month and the cheap foot spa in Ditmars twice a month. I did everything right - and although I've been conditioned to despise the phrase "not fair," I have had a major, major case of the "not fair's" these last few months.
But as with all challenges large and small, with time comes perspective - and hopefully a teeny bit of wisdom.
Sometimes when I'm teaching a class and students aren't quite grasping an alignment cue, I have them do it "wrong" to feel what it feels like to do it "right." Tensing your shoulders up by your ears to an extreme, for example, to feel the release of dropping them down again. You felt your shoulders at their most tense, and you felt that release. Maybe next time you'll have a little more awareness of when the less extreme but still problematic tension comes back again.
It's with that idea in mind that I started to think, as I was trying to think about what this is here to teach me, that my injury prevention plan was incomplete. This injury is partly genetics (the shape of my femur and hip sockets and iliac crests) and partly years of hyper-mobility, hyper-flexibility, and insufficient stability. They say rejection is protection, and my body rejected the way I've used it for most of my life, from my ballerina pelvis of my youth to my billions of butterfly poses of my adulthood to the many steps I've run thinking my form had been fixed when in fact it had only mildly improved.
So - although my resolution and my list of practices was completely well intentioned and laudable, it was incomplete. I didn't know it, but the proof of that has been in the pain.
I still have a lot of fear and uncertainty about my recovery, but what I do know is that although this year has now shifted from prevention to recovery, the recovery in and of itself will ultimately lead to greater understanding, greater strength, greater self knowledge, and a capacity to come back stronger and smarter. And that sounds like pretty good prevention to me.
Life is a cycle in that way, isn't it? We're doing our best to protect ourselves against problems and suffering, but that's impossible, so we inevitably experience problems and suffering. But it's what we do with it that determines our future responses to it.
Jim MacLaren, quoted here by Elizabeth Gilbert, says it much better. Her full post is here, and it's well worth the read.
"But what I will always remember about Jim most clearly is when he told me, "Never waste your suffering." This was in response to a question I'd asked him about whether he thought that suffering makes us into better people. He said, 'Not necessarily. Not automatically. Suffering just happens, constantly and randomly, and if you don't make anything out of it, then it causes you nothing but harm — it happened to you for no reason. But suffering can also be the greatest possible invitation to transform — but only if you accept that invitation, and only if you go through a complete catharsis, and only if you actually change yourself because of what you've experienced. But that part is up to you. Only you can execute a catharsis in your own life. Suffering without catharsis is nothing but wasted pain. And you should never waste your pain, never waste your suffering. It's powerful stuff, the most powerful stuff there is. Use it. Transform from it. Learn. Grow. Be better.'"