“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself; the storm will pass” – Timber Hawkeye
This phrase has always immensely annoyed me as I find it very hard to get my head around the concept that sometimes, less is more. I am an intelligent and logical person and I can see how the concept is supposed to work; indeed I spend large proportion of my waking hours explaining its importance to my injured athletes (patients) so that their bodies can heal in due course. However, as with a lot of things in life, applying it to oneself has remained a challenge for me.
The first time I encountered it was from the man who moulded most of my triathlon ‘career’ to date, my coach. He used to annoy the hell out of me by responding to my long rants about how impatient or fatigued I was at any given time with the simple response: “we hurry slowly”. “I don’t do anything slowly!”, I would retort, and as it turns out this was to be my ultimate “fail” as I sit here recovering from foot surgery essentially because of my inability to stop when needed and not push the boundaries of the amazing human body (combined with a large proportion of congenital biomechanical predisposition to developing a sesamoid dysfunction). Lesson learned.
So the way I see it, the Universe has given me another shot at learning to “hurry slowly” and this time, I am listening up. It’s been a huge challenge for me, but it helps that the human body is pretty clear about things in a post-operative state: you do too much, you get pain. You get too busy, the foot swells. It’s not rocket science. But it is a great chance to practice the concept of listening to one’s body and pacing oneself. And I am hoping that by developing these skills, I will have a more successful shot at applying the ‘hurry slowly’ concept to my life when I am back in full swing – working full time and training full time. This is when the real challenge surfaces, as the vague rumblings of a body that is overstressed can be easier to ignore – the churning stomach, the over-racing mind, the lack of appetite, the niggles that pop up with routine training, the fatigue that slowly creeps up over days or weeks, the loss of patience for life’s little annoyances. These are all important signs to look out for and they should be respected even more than the clear-cut objectivity of post-operative pain and swelling.
Because, ultimately, a foot will heal as the amazing human body turns over its bone cells in a cycle roughly every 6-8 weeks.
But our health – mind and body? That is forever. We only have one body, and one life. And we can’t do a simple operation to “fix” it. So instead, we must take great care of it; listen to it, treasure it, and learn to go with its natural flow.