“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomiatable will”. Mahatma Gandhi
You know how sometimes it seems like everywhere you look, go, read, see, ARE that you see the same themes cropping up? Like suddenly, no matter what you are doing, there is a seemingly random reference to sunflowers, or flowing rivers, or forgiveness? Yes? Well, for me lately (as in the last two years but particulary in the last month) for me that “theme” has been the crossroads between fear, pain and strength. It’s sort of easy to see how they relate and overlap, but it’s also easy to overlook the role each plays in the other. It’s easy to say cliche’-ly “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (or to perhaps sing along with others who’ve made a lot of money turning that into a pretty kick-butt workout song). But I don’t think I’ve really appreciated the role of fear in making us stronger. Or more accurately, the strength that can come from facing your fears. Which often involve pain, or at least the fear of pain.
In the last 2 months I’ve run two marathons, climbed a couple of mountains (small ones but none-the-less), put myself out there for several super-scary things, taken steps toward some long-hidden secret ambitions and opened myself up in several areas that could result in some pretty significant pain. It’s been sort of terrifying and sort of exhiliarating. At mile 17 of marathon number two this weekend- I learned a very concrete lesson about Pain and Strength. The pain was there- oh my was it there- but the Strength that emerged as I just kept going, well…..that one I still don’t truly understand but somehow the endurance through physical pain re-inforced the importance of the endurance in all the other areas of my life and the more the pain, the stronger I started feeling mentally. ( I realize it’s possible I lost some of you here- it’s hard to explain!)
As I kept running (and incidentally it was a good time to pray for those I know are going through painful or fearful times and needing some strength) I started thinking of all the places this concept had been weaving itself into and out of my life. I thought of a quote by Ernest Hemingway I’d just read in Scott Jurek’s book http://http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Run-Unlikely-Ultramarathon-Greatness/dp/0547569653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340715581&sr=8-1&keywords=eat+and+run (which incidentally I highly recommend for anyone/everyone to read regardless of your diet/fitness goals/level- very motivating!):
“The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.” YES! (I apparently need to read more about Ernest Hemingway).
I thought then of Kristen Armstrong’s book that I’m reading sort of like a devotional- one section at a time before bed: http://www.amazon.com/Mile-Markers-Important-Reasons-Women/dp/1609611063/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340715847&sr=1-1&keywords=kristen+armstrong (also HIGHLY recommended if you are female again regardless of whether or not you think you have anything in common with her, b/c I promise you, you do!). She says (and I quote from pg 145):
“Recently my friend Dawn gave me a quotable card that says: Do one thing every day that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt”. (This one is actually “funny” b/c I (Dawn) JUST SENT THIS CARD to one of you reading this- and I won’t say who b/c I know for a fact you haven’t gotten it yet!) but it was just another affirmation of the lesson I think I’m supposed to be learning.
So I could go on and on, but we all need to get to our work for the day so I’ll just say this:
There have been alot of changes in my life in the last few years- and I realize we could ALL say that, which was sort of the prompt for this post. There are things that the June 26, 2012 me has seen/done/survived/been strengthened by that would have laid low and completely annihilated the June 26, 2010 or June 26, 2008 me. There are things the “now me” would NEVER choose to go through again (and by never I mean NEVER) but that I would also NEVER trade the lessons I’ve learned BY going through those things. Lessons I couldn’t and wouldn’t have learned any other way. And so, here I stand on the corner of Fear (some conquered, some newly emerging), pain (some good, some bad) and STRENGTH and I have to say, I’m getting more comfortable here. As I thought this to myself this weekend, I asked myself “Now how in the world is THAT possible”? And I realized, once again (as I have realized so many times in this crazy unpredictable thing we call life) that it’s because of the support, strength, confidence and encouragement that I get from watching, listening and receiving from all of you who have also spent time on this corner! Some of you were here years ago and I saw you and how you carried yourself while waiting on your transportation away from here and some of you stop by to see me regularly here. And now I know, that without your conversation, perspective, encouragement, love and support- well, I’d be stuck on this corner for a long long time without really SEEING it. So- how about it? Is anyone hearing what I’m saying? Anyone remember the sights and smells from here on the corner? Anyone drink their morning coffee from the mug you bought here? Anyone just finding yourself here? If so, come on over and find me- I’m the one wearing the T-shirt with the Hemingway qoute on it.