For Better Or For Worse, Til Death

I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.
And I said, "Hey, Footless Dude, guess you won't mind if I take your shoes."
--from It's happy bunny: Life. Get One.

In the early 90s I managed a professional children's choir, which was often hired to sing at weddings. One Saturday, after rehearsing in the basement of the church, we formed a line and prepared to head upstairs for the ceremony. Except...the door was locked.

The director grew flustered. The children scaled the walls to test the windows. But in a time before cell phones, there was nothing we could do but wait.

Months into the rehabilitation of a few injuries, all I can do is wait. And I feel a little like Happy Bunny: unable to summon a spirit of gratefulness. I'm not allowed to hit or jump, so boxing's out, which effectively cancels out most of my self-imposed goals and deadlines.

Some of which is nice. The break--it's nice. When all this first hit, I acted as the choir director did, working myself up, but now I feel like the manager I was back then: smiling and at peace, knowing I've done what I can and the next step will reveal itself.

That's not to say a few identity crises didn't pass by, making me wonder why I ask so much of myself, and why I rate myself according to what I've done. Mostly though, the lessons are what's generally applicable, and worth considering here. Like...

Stuff happens. When injuries started arriving, I thought I was a failure. A knee splint was the red letter spelling out my ineptitude. But limits, when you push them, are found. Here! Here's your limit! You reached it! Some injuries are inevitable.

But most stuff shouldn't. Though I know a fair amount about fitness, I lived with far too many muscle imbalances and compensations that eventually caught up to me. I hear this from people all the time: they live with injuries forever, as if it's just simply part of them ("my bad knee" is a common one). Many aren't meant to be, however, and many will cause you new problems if they're not addressed. Bottom line is you need to seek out expert advice. You need to take care of your body so you can stay active well into your later years. You may think you know what you're doing--as I did--but, as with any activity in any field, it's best to seek out some expert advice along the way.

Because everything's got to work together. Most people aren't asked to do knuckle push-ups during their physical therapy, but that's one of the reasons why Dr. Ross is the greatest: he believes that full out rest won't heal you up. At my appointment last week he asked me to perform the push-ups. Then he asked me to drop lower on my knuckles and hold. A little higher, and hold. I'm laughing, because this is difficult, but the analysis wasn't funny: my triceps weren't firing. Somehow, I'm doing knuckle push-ups without them, because they'd shut down with the other known injuries.

Later tests revealed I also wasn't using my back enough during shoulder exercises, or when lifting a bag of groceries, or a jug of milk, and all this put undue stress on the forearms. I wasn't using everything that's there and waiting to be used.

The last lesson, then, is one of exercise--proper form, people--but also a general one that got me thinking about how I approach life. How you shut off parts of yourself when you go to do this or that. Sometimes that's necessary, sometimes you've got to stop letting your biceps have all the fun during rows, but often, a situation would do best with all of you. You can pull it off, but the stress of that will add up.

Which aspects of you have you been neglecting?

What have you accepted as a cross to bear, rather than a problem to be fixed?

The children's choir, by the way, was eventually found and ushered to the sanctuary in time. And I feel I've been rescued just in time, too.


  1. i love these peeling-back-the-layers posts of yours but i when i fall so behind on my blog reading am too busy catching up to sit with some of the questions you pose at the end.

    which is another way of saying, maybe they're too hard to fully examine at the moment. but thanks for bringing them up anyway.

  2. I'm just glad you're here. Not long ago I tried commenting on your blog and couldn't, so I need to get back there and try again.

  3. I'm glad to have read this before I start physical therapy again - tomorrow! My approach to exercise is different from that of more able-bodied folk with more workout mojo because I have to go especially slow with my neurologically challenged body. Yet it was great to be reminded about the muscles I might not be using. Just because I'm different doesn't mean I can't work on my body, and thank you for reinforcing that! (Even though that's not what you wrote about, that's what it got me thinking about! And other things, too, but I'll stop here. :)

    1. I hope the PT goes well, Jennah. I'd be interested to hear more about what you do while there (you've got my email).


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