Monday, December 5, 2016
Where did the finish line go?
I was always a hyper child growing up. I don’t think that I would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD if it existed at that time since I could still sit for a certain period when necessary, but it always had to be in balance with physical activity. I also did eat quite a bit of sugar back then which could explain this, but I mostly think that I am wired to function at a pretty high speed. I initially thought that this was normal since most of my friends were high-strung also, but now I realize that most function at a slower speed.
When Adele was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the adrenaline kicked in and I dove in at an all-out pace. I didn’t seem to know how to do things any other way. I understood the Type 1 game to be a marathon and not a sprint but the thing was that I would probably start a marathon the same way. Full gas until I blow up was how I rolled. When I raced BMX as a teenager, the start was the most important part of the race. If you were not in the top 3 out of the gate it was very difficult to be in contention to win. We used to practice starts for that exact reason. Looking back, most everything that I did has been accomplished with an element of speed from the get-go. It seems to be how I approached everything in my life.
For as long as I remember I have always believed that the highest pinnacle of human achievement was pushing the physical body to its extreme limit. I believed that a super-fit body gained from a lifetime of dedication, sacrifice and physical training was what our time here was all about. I admired that more than anything else. I thought that the goal was getting every single ounce of performance out of our physical bodies. Anything less seemed like such a waste. I idolized Olympians and World Champions because given my view of what the human experience should be, they had achieved the highest level. I know that genetically, most of them were the gifted ones, but the maximization of their physical capacities through a lifetime of training was still the most impressive to me. They were pushing themselves to their limit.
Growing up, my heroes were the athletes who stood out because of their physical accomplishments, the champions of their game. I wanted to be like them. So based on this belief, I pushed myself in that direction. And like everything else in my life before, there was no pacing myself as I pursued these goals at an unsustainable fast pace. I believed that the pursuit of exterior growth was what I was meant to strive for in order to live fully. Society also pushes us in that direction because anything on the outside can be measured and seen. This makes sense to our logical brain. And because of this, it is the norm of how society tends to measure success. But thinking about the following quote by Eckhart Tolle that I recently came across “Nothing that is of real value can be lost, only the false dissolves”, I began to realize that all that is exterior in reality is fleeting. It is but a temporary illusion that will surely eventually die or dissolve. This may partly explain why I was pursuing this as fast as possible with an element of urgency. Maybe, unconsciously I knew that time was running out and that the window of opportunity was slowly closing? Maybe what I was pursuing wasn't even real?
A term that is often used to describe an athlete is “being physically fit”. I now know that there is a big difference between being fit and being healthy. Being able to bike faster than another does not mean that you are healthier. Being healthy certainly has a physical component, but it also has a very strong emotional element to it as well. We tend to forget this. Very often those that we admire because of physical accomplishments are reaching these heights trying to run away from their emotional problems. The emotional problem becomes the driving force required to keep on pushing your physical limit. But how often do we hear of Olympic athletes succumbing to a very deep depression right after their medal-winning performance? Health all comes down to balance between your outside (physical body) and your inside (heart and soul). This balance will be different for me than it is for you but it is necessary for health. It cannot be measured completely, it can only be felt.
We are born perfect, unflawed. Then, as we grow up, the world messes us up and we accumulate baggage. This process happens to everyone and is simply part of the human experience. We can spend all of our time ignoring it while keeping busy building our exterior or we can courageously work on digging, purging and healing our wounds thus creating depth. Its hard work and very messy, but unlike accumulating exterior accolades, accomplishments in this area are permanent. This work eventually changes our heart and is the only thing that is real.
Physically, on my good days, I seem to feel like I have turned the corner towards wellness in regards to my post-concussion syndrome symptoms. Last week my symptoms were much better, but after a very short fat bike ride on the weekend, I’m feeling the symptoms again. My progress seems like 2 steps forward and one step back. Bowen therapy continues to have the most positive effect on my healing.
Emotionally, in so many ways, my concussion has felt like a spilling of all of my life baggage. It’s like the container holding all of my issues, wounds, worries and experiences got knocked over and all of its contents have been scattered all over when my head hit the ground. They were all there before, neatly organized to ensure my survival so far and now they feel exposed, very disorganized and raw. The task of putting them back in the same order seems overwhelming. But the reason for the spill is likely that they needed to be rearranged or dealt with and discarded. It’s a messy job, but it’s time. What an unfixable “problem” like a chronic disease such as Type 1 Diabetes has started has now been intensified by the concussion. It is one of its hidden gifts.
The pursuit of exterior accolades is the calling of the ego while interior growth is your soul’s curriculum and in the end, the only thing that is your truth. One of the hardest parts for me personally in this quest is that much of the required effort for gaining depth is through stillness, not very easy for a person hard-wired to race through or away from life’s hardships. They say that life’s challenges can either make you hard or soft, bitter or better. Once you realize this, you get to choose. That said, I think that it is now time for me to re-balance my outside with my inside by facing my truth, slowing down and softening in order to make room for something better...