(first posted in Sept, 2010…)
Feelings are much like waves.
We can’t stop them from coming,
but we can choose which ones to surf.
Basically, I like to think of lower extremity pain and joint issues as standing on a surf board. You can’t move very far in any direction, you are limited by this surf board you are standing on. You aren’t walking, you are just standing your ground. Yet your life is moving forward, ever forward, on a big huge wave of energy. You don’t need to be mobile to realize that you are still gaining momentum and moving forward in life. Sometimes, lower extremity dis-ease comes along and forces us to just stand and find balance on our surfboards, while we allow the wave to carry us through. Here is how it works:
The lower leg represents our ability to move forward in life.
This is pretty obvious, as walking and running and jumping and strolling are all ways that we physically move our bodies forward. The lower extremity joints, specifically the hips, knees, and ankles, are the way we do this. The ease with which these joints work reflect the ease with which we move through our life.
On a very basic level, you can see this in action. Children who are fresh, full of energy, full of joy, often spontaneously jump, twirl and dance through their day. Many many days I spend in awe of my kids, as they joyfully skip while I am pushing my butt along, tired and forcing myself to complete a chore. Pushing the grocery cart, I just want to be done. I am doing it functionally. My feet are lifting and moving forward a step and I am going through the motions, step by step, on a functional level.
My kids, unaware that this task is supposed to be boring, are in the moment. Jumping up and down and spinning around when they see something they’d like to add to the cart… racing each other down the aisle, an aisle that we don’t even need to go down, just laughing out loud and playing together. As I hustle them down the isles that we need to go and then through the check out lane, their gate is totally different then mine.
So how we move literally propels us forward. Watching folks walk can gain you much insight into what moves them. If you see a mother walking towards her toddler, arms wide open and joy shining in her eyes as she coos to her little one, you can see that her joints are effortlessly propelling her towards her love. When you see older people, walking hand in hand, slowly shuffling along, you can see two souls united together, enjoying their day, in no hurry for it to end and in unison. I find this type of movement the most enchanting to watch.
I am not at all against the natural aging of our joints. I think it is beautiful and reflective of a fulfilled life. As the joints are used, over the course of a lifetime, they move more slowly, often take longer to warm up, and enjoy a rest in between uses. This is a natural and beautiful reflection of the rhythm of life.
In the beginning, there is so much joy in life, so many new things to discover, that it is literally hard to contain an exploring child. Their natural effervescence pulls them, pushes them, bubbles through their legs constantly. As we age, our joints move less fluidly across each other… the two articular surfaces begin to erode or build adhesions and over all glide less smoothly. This makes us wise, when we are elderly, to slow down a bit, take it more slowly, and pause in-between our movements. This echoes what our heartsong sings, as we long to slow down, savor each passing day, soaking in the sunset and the scene… sitting down more frequently and appreciating what we have… less likely to skip through it or jump past our days, more likely to soak in and absorb the day, more thoughtful, more reflective, less eager for the moving through and more eager for the pause and appreciate.
So the natural design of joints echoes the natural rhythm of our lives. I have no need or desire to be young forever. What I have a desire to do, is to enjoy each day. I enjoyed my twirling swirling days of endless energy as a child, but even more, I’m enjoying my mid-life in-between… my ability to rise to the occasion, run and jump and dance with my kids, yet pause and soak it all in and take a rest now and again as well. And when the day comes when my knees and my hips ask me to walk half the speed I do now… I will reach for my husbands hand and perhaps enjoy those strolls most of all.
If your joints are diseased, though, causing you to slow down (or even stop) out of proportion to the natural aging process… it might be helpful to reflect on what has been happening in your life the months or years just prior to the onset of the disease or injury.
Was there a major life change coming up? Were you transitioning into a new phase? Were you watching a child grow up, or feeling conflicted with a new phase of life? Were you dreading a new beginning, saying goodbye, moving on. Were you watching you parents age, or change, or divorce… were you transitioning to a new job, or just about to?
Was there something coming up on the horizon… something you were aware of, or perhaps something you might not have been aware of at the time, but in retrospect you can see?
Was there anything you were rushing through? Were you working too hard? Running too fast through life? Missing out on your children’s childhood? On your own life?
If your joints are asking you to slow down, or even forcing you to slow down, ask yourself if there is a reason. A possibility that slowing down is exactly what you need right now.
Could it be a blessing in disguise?
I believe it is not only possible, but it is actually probable that our cells, our entire bodies, know what we need better then we do.
If your body is forcing you to slow down or stop… look around and find out why. What future are you moving too fast towards… what present time are you moving too quickly through… and thank your joints for the message. And allow this slowing down to be exactly what is needed.
Once the message has been received and acknowledged, true healing can begin. You choose this by your attitude. Choose which wave you want to surf, and allow the current wave of your life be the movement that carries you forward, while you give your joints a rest. Stand still on your surf board, find your own balance, feeling no need to walk forward, your only job is to find balance right here.
Sometimes, your joints will freeze up and force you to stay in this moment of time. Ride *this* particular wave. So take the message, stop walking forward, stop before you walk right off the front tip of your surf board. No more walking. Life itself will move you forward.
Stand in your balance, and enjoy the wave. xoxo