I am in a season of change. On a short run through Ault Park today, the red leaves on the trees reminded me of what is so obviously in front of my face. I'm going from a season of pushing my limits into letting go--from green to red, from go to stop. After an injury-free, feel-good year of tough training, it is the strangest feeling. Letting go, resting, breathing deeper, and being still are much, much harder than pushing, going, pushing. But, why is this so?
In the stillness and rest, I'm finding my world to be a magical place. Instead of momentum, I have clarity. Instead of miles, I have sleep. Instead of reaching for a goal, I have space to deeply consider what's important to me. Momentum, miles and goals aren't bad things--in fact, they make my life very rich and also teach me a lot about who I am in this crazy world. But if I only had those things, without their absence, I believe they would feel more like shoulds and less like privileges.
But, really, why is it so hard to give ourselves this time of recovery from anything, at any point in the year? Nature does it year after year after year. But, NO, we are productive humans. MUST. KEEP. GOING. After only thirty two years, though, I've found that ignoring nature has its consequences. I see it all the time, not only personally, but in my profession as a trainer. Without proper rest between workouts, periodization of training within a year, or simply space in a life to stop, progress doesn't occur. Though lack of progress isn't the only consequence, monk and scholar Thomas Merton called busyness, "a pervasive form of contemporary violence." I too believe it's a form of self-violence. Nevertheless, it's a value upheld and encouraged by our culture where worth is measured in productivity.
One of the best decisions I ever made, in school or otherwise, was to study abroad in Valencia, Spain. Spain was a place and experience that ripped my world wide open. For four months, I slowed my pace to the rich, easy-going, sensual clock of this Mediterranean culture.
|There is no other like Spanish coffee.|
|Learning to salsa dance in Valencia, 2002.|
|One of my favorite places on the planet--Mallorca, Spain.|
But, in the last few years I've begun to make a compromise between a world I know so well and one that I long to fully embrace. A compromise between a culture that prides itself on production versus one that values health, community and connection. I'm learning to uphold my own values (and coincidentally many of Spain's) in a world that encourages me to do otherwise. I'm creating my own universe where quality of health, community and connection rank high above money and productivity.
After a sweat-producing nine months, 2012 was the first year ever where I did not want my training to be over. It had become such a part of me and a way of life that worked marvelously for me and my husband. But with the completion of my "A" race and the fall setting in, I know it's a necessary cycle in the year. So even though my body mostly prefers to be in a state of movement, it also knows that the goals I'm planning in 2013 can't happen without this dormancy. The leaves may be off the trees but that doesn't mean they are dead--quite the opposite. They are preparing for a spring and summer in which they will become bigger and more brilliant.