We saw him running toward us, his head hanging forward at almost a 90 degree angle from his collar bones. This structural imbalance a stark contrast to his strong muscle defined legs and calves, blue running shorts and taut body. Each step a deliberate measured cadence, without discussion or hesitation, my husband, I and our dog, crossed the street so he would not have to alter his running path to remain socially distant.
His body screamed volumes of both his personality strengths and weaknesses: excessive determination, forward focused perseverance and deliberate action. I believed he was someone you could count on getting something accomplished at all costs! Regardless of the apparent strength and stamina, his head of white hair was not a top his shoulders! Energetically speaking his head was not aligned with his heart!
Today was not the first time we saw him running in our neighborhood. However, today in addition to admiring his perseverance, I noticed how each step was carefully placed and how his right hand occasionally reached to his right hip. Based on the wobble that followed this hand movement, I’m guessing he was experiencing some (if not severe) hip pain.
Given his advanced age and the physical shape of his muscles/body it was apparent his running was serving him in several ways. Yet part of me wanted to scream, “Please, stop running! Please lay your tired body on the floor, grab a strap and relieve some of the stress of your repeated motion that is causing your tight muscles to pull your head forward. Breathe, breathe into your whole body, breathe into your heart! Feel the earth behind your shoulder blades, understand the earth does support your ability to stand upright and straight!” “Reach out to each side, lengthen and find more than just forward motion!”
As I continued to watch him run 100 yards in front of us, I recalled, “You can only see in others that which exists in you!”
This thought radically shifted my mental conversation. How does seeing him now, serve me? What message is he giving me? In this time where so many of our societal imbalances are ‘in our face’, how does this advice I want to give, pertain to me individually? and/or collectively as a culture?
I found myself wondering, “in what ways does my body scream to others, of imbalances that my determination and one-pointed focus have created?” In what ways, would I be better served to shift my attention? In what ways could I shift to allow for more balance?”
These are not new questions. I have been asking myself these questions for years! I have been rigorously dedicated to a lifetime of self-improvement and healing. Not exactly clear what has been ‘mastered’ in exchange for all of my efforts and attention but a great deal has been learned!
For me, COVID quarantine (and all that has come with it) has helped create a container to make a few needed shifts. I’m walking more (up to an average of 15K steps/day), eating a lot less, giving to others in a very different way, resting more and prioritizing my projects instead of living in a deficit of energy and time to get things done. The outcome (so far) is mixed, I have lost 25 pounds and completed many personal and household projects. BUT I continue to long for the connection, community, social interaction and pace of life that clearly was not serving me.
I wonder which shifts will be sustainable? Which shifts will be lost to former habits?
Either way, I will continue to regularly ask myself, “Is this serving me in a healthy way today? Tomorrow? In the long-run? Is this ultimately serving my goals? Is this something, I want to choose today or am I doing this purely out of habit?” I know deeply that the only way, the collective community/culture will change is when we each take rigorous responsibility to ask ourselves these tough questions and begin making our own changes. Because our community is merely a reflection of each of us individually!