The Physical Reality
After ignoring intermittent low back pain for many years, leg numbness when standing or walking is now forcing me to discover and confront the cause. Ignoring isn’t the right word, though. I tried a lot of different approaches to try and solve the problem. They didn’t work.
The numbness made me realize that just because an approach has worked more than once in the past doesn’t mean it will always work. I also concluded that the problem fell beyond my ability to overcome it. I needed help.
This experience is teaching me some valuable lessons I suspect are crucial in my aim to make the second half of my life not just productive and fruitful but infinitely more so than the first half of my life.
1. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.
Some problems do go away on their own with time, but it’s a bad idea to make this a blanket approach to all problems. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to ignore a problem through busyness, distraction, etc. than it is to address it these days. I thought I’d broken this pattern in my life, but clearly it’s crept its way back in.
2. Solving a problem often requires outside help.
I’ve been exercising the way I have for so long, I didn’t know how to do it differently. I even looked up new ways to exercise but ended up just adapting them into the same approach I’d been using for so long. Outside help is more than getting ideas from others, though; it’s about letting others guide me because guiding myself isn’t working. It’s about admitting I don’t have all the answers and don’t even really see the problem accurately. Only by getting outside help can I hope to develop a right perspective and thus a right system for building strength once again.
3. Starting over is a viable option
To be clear, one is rarely able to completely start over. There’s always residue from past experiences. It is possible, however, in a more systematic way. In other words, we can change our systems – break down and rebuild them – even as we move forward with our cumulated knowledge and wisdom.
With these realizations along with the reality that my system for physical fitness no longer works, I am choosing the path of humility. That’s my intent, anyway.
I’m choosing to listen to my yoga instructor and my physical therapist who both said to me, within the same week, that less is more. I’m choosing to let go of a system that, though comfortable in a best-friend-since-childhood sort of way, no longer serves me.
What does this mean for my health and fitness moving forward? What does it mean for my goal to be as active as possible for as long as possible?
I’m not sure, actually. My sense is that it involves learning to not try so hard and to instead be willing to trust others to lead me and for me to become a better follower. I also have a sneaking suspicion that this lesson is going to flow into other areas (e.g., spiritual, relational, mental) of life is significant — transformative, even — ways.
Once again, a physical reality is putting me on an unexpected journey that will likely lead to whole-life progress I thought would never come. Stay tuned for more on that journey. For now, know that I am aware of God’s hand in this transformation and am seeking his guiding above all.
“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 19:21)