I recently did something to my foot. The chiropractor I went to see who cupped my foot a la Gwenyth Paltrow diagnosed it as a stress fracture, which seems like an appropriately dramatic yet seemingly innocuous name for something I did to myself in a fit of impatient determination. See, as much as I give the illusion that all I do for fun is watch reality TV and eat carbs (alright, that is mostly true) I'm also a semi-regular runner. I run fast, and hard, but it should not go unmentioned that I never run all that far. Three miles here, two miles there, and every molecule of my being is already brimming with enough endorphins to last me the day. Why bother playing the long-distance game when the short one worked just fine?
One day, on some straight up Invictus-shit, I decided I was the captain of my soul and could try and run 10. What did it matter I lacked the proper footwear or training? I was running this life game and I was capable of growth on my own schedule.
Thus, I ended up in a chiropractic office with wallpaper and furnishings vaguely remniscent of the Royal Tenenbaums with a suction cup stuck to my foot, perturbed by my own self-inflicted annoyance.
This small, minute circumstance got me thinking of how we rarely have the patience to listen to our bodies and minds. As a species, we tend to push ourselves through emotional pain or sore muscles because we surmise it might be easier than dealing with the source of our wounds. In fact, believing we are capable of change might be the only thing that keeps many of us from going off the rails. After all, that vital quality of perseverance can make us luminous, light, and inspired. But does it make us adaptable? Why are we always in such a hurry to push through moods or seasons or mileage to Happy and Sunny and Accomplished without first surrendering to What Is? When we push through it, when we "fake it til we make it," are there then sore muscles and tangled pieces of our psyche dragging behind us in our wake, begging to one day be arduously un-knotted by the slow process of acceptance and surrender?
Happiness Now, Damnit! should be the name of just about every self-help book I've read, and I doubt I'm alone in that realization. Consider it an inherent impatience woven into our mortal selves, this deep-seeded ache for control and growth on our own schedule. It's a desire everyone expresses a little differently. Some people buy a new red lipstick or bake an endless amount of muffins. Others, still, get good at facial contouring or organizing their sock drawer or curating a perfectly manicured Instagram feed.
The more we believe we can control change: of our moods, our physical bodies, or the outcome of a situation, the happier we feel. But if we cannot bend to the notion of surrender at all, we become unable to cope with life's transience, making even mildly upsetting occurrences (traffic jams, foot fractures) seem terrorizing.
I always considered my personal penchant for control part of what kept me running, both mentally and physically. I have my fair share of quirks: office supply shopping anytime a new neuroses creeps in, a desire to color code everything, rewriting lists until the handwriting is up to my standards. But lately I've come to the disappointing realization that I might never have learned how to live gracefully in surrender. I don't always know how to breathe through a traffic jam. I forget that I can laugh through shot nerves. It's not a backbone, it's not a wishbone, it's a surrender-bone I realized might be out of commission. And in life, that won't serve me well.
Our bodies and minds are powerful things. Yet they're fallible. To small injuries, large illness, crippling depression and tidal waves of self-doubt--and sitting long enough with this thought can make even the calmest person twitch with insecurity. But it's a hard and fast truth of being human that we are not always the captain of the ship. Perhaps the best we can do is train, work hard, and surrender. I'm going to start practicing, at a slow and steady pace.... but you best believe I'll still be baking stress muffins and organizing the shit out of something. Baby steps, after all.