Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More than you think you are

I had a new thought the other day. New thoughts are sometimes few and far between, so I thought I'd share.

I had gone to the gym in the interest of keeping my new lifestyle goal (not a new year's resolution) to be healthier via amping up my cardio per week and losing some poundage. After I'd finished, I was looking around for a place to stretch out when I noticed that a yoga class was starting. I'd been to a couple of Bally's yoga classes before, so I thought this would be the perfect way to stretch out and relax at the end of a very long day.

It was a small late evening class with only about 5 other people participating. The very sneaky teacher had turned down the lights and put on some soft yoga music in the background. Even having to use one of the community yoga mats (ewww, germs) wasn't going to get me down. I was ready to chill. Not so much chilling...Before I knew it I was ten chaturangas (a push up with your elbows pointing straight back) into a power yoga class. Normally no big deal, but after an hour of running/eliptical training, too much! I found myself in downard facing dog (the resting part of the sun salutation sequence) with my arms visibly trembling, exerting everything I had left in me to keep from face planting into the mat.

In this exhaustion, I realized that I felt oh so alive. Somehow, feeling my body's frailty made the act it was doing more amazing. I'd felt similar thrills that combined both my physical limits and my ability to reach beyond them during other athletic moments: at the top of a climbing wall, shaking partly with fatigue, partly with adrenaline; at the end of a run where I went farther than I ever thought my unwilling legs could carry me; or back in college after three-a-day preseason practices, the feeling that I couldn't perform for one more minute but surprising myself by playing even harder.

Later, I wondered about the idea of finding our strength in weakness and what other areas of life this could apply to. I find it much harder to take risks emotionally than I do physically. Emotional risks, like telling someone how you really feel about them, confronting someone close to you, letting new people into your life, starting an ambitious program/project, applying for a job or promotion you don't think you can get, are the equivalent of working without a net. In physical activities, there are options if the weakness becomes too much. I could do child's pose, there is a trusted person holding the ropes, I could call a time out. But in real life, sometimes we have to make the leap without knowing for sure if we can make it to the other side. Some of us are lucky enough to have emotional safety nets in people who have our back no matter what and will scrape us off the pavement if we misjudge the jump. However, in the end, we have to be the ones to take the chance. We can calculate all we want, but it comes down to believing that despite how inadequate we might feel, there are depths of strength in us that we don't even know we have.

Here's to a year of taking more chances on others and on myself.


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