Elation and Despair

Earlier this week I found a Yoga routine online (linked below) and went through it during my Tuesday lunch hour.

I’ve been taking the time to do Yoga every morning for up to 20 minutes so that my back is limber enough for me to make it through the early part of the day. If I don’t do this, I find myself in incredible discomfort until about noon when my body had warmed up.

Even though I have not yet started my Yoga Club, I have ensured that the times when I am hoping to have it are spent with me in the space going through a routine. Even if I’m in too much discomfort and pain to actually run a club at this time, I want to at least get the routine going and begin to make it a part of my overall weekly routine.

So this Tuesday I did the routine mentioned above and I felt amazing afterwards. Like, really amazing! Other than some expected moments of discomfort, I generally felt no pain at all for the rest of the day. I took careful note of the specific stretches and the particular muscles that they targeted and made a plan to continue the routine for the next few days (as was recommended in the video) to see if it seemed to improve the state of my back. I felt like a man witnessing a match being lit after walking for days in a storm with no heat.

Then, the following day, the wind blew my match out. I found myself to be in the same morning discomfort I was always in, which was expected. However, when I went through the routine again it seemed to offer minimal relief and several of the asanas (postures) seemed too difficult to even position myself to get into. I felt lost again. Adding to my despair was knowing that my upcoming chiro appointment wouldn’t be until the 5th of December and my eventual physio appointment likely sometime after that. I had to face the fact that the distal goal I had set myself for my Masters course on Self Regulated Learning was not going to be met on time.

As if to especially hit home the point that I would not be successful in completing my goal, while attempting to carry my two year old son from daycare to our car (he was being difficult) I sneezed, triggering a sharp shot of pain in my lower back which literally brought me down to my knees. I did what I could to not let my son fall to the ground, which meant taking the brunt of my collapse on the sidewalk with my knees themselves, which was not pleasant. Recognizing that his dad was not in a good place, my son forgot his own sorrow (I had put his boots on and he didn’t want them on) and touched my face gently, whispering, “Sorry Daddy.”

I spent the evening reading the posts of my classmates and thinking about my reflections on the whole experience and my process of goal setting. I though of my motivation. A lot.

Reading one of my peer’s posts, I found myself connecting to their reflection about having to consider modifying or revising goals due to changing life circumstances and I recognized that this was something I needed to do. Like so many goals, I shot for a reasonable goal but did not really provide myself a reasonable timeline. I thought about why this was the case when, in the past, I’d always been able to buckle down and power through everything. Then, my son’s words echoed in my head, “Sorry Daddy.” I realized that I’ve only had two kids in my life for just over 2 years. My life is not what it used to be. This is not a bad thing. It is a different thing. I’m still getting used to it.

That night my wife and I sat down together in our sliver of time between kids, jobs, chores, dogs, and sanity and looked to the future. The courses I was taking, when I would be done them, comparing the timeline to other plans and milestones for our children. Then she laughed and said out loud that, “We really haven’t had a break in 6 years.” She was right.

Maybe my goal during this time should have been to take a break from setting goals. Perhaps my fall, and subsequent re-aggravation of my back, was the much-needed event to force me to stop….breath….and reflect. Removing myself from the ‘performance zone’ and moving into the ‘learning-zone’. If this is the case, I have to laugh. Did my catalyst for deep inner reflection have to be such a painful and debilitating re-injury?

Life is not linear, I wish that expectation wasn’t so easily sold to us, it’s such an easy trap to fall into. Every encounter we make opens us up to more connections and relations…every engagement increases our capacity, but these developments also open us up to vulnerabilities that we don’t usually understand until we take time to reflect. If we don’t take the time to step back and study ourselves then we won’t understand how our vulnerabilities can lead to or propagate suffering.

But suffering is a part of our relationship with existing. To attempt to live without suffering seems to me to be the attempt to deny one’s self a key part of the experience of life. Suffering adds salt to the meal of our lives.

I’m reminded of all those who pushed through suffering to see light emerge from a horizon of darkness. The night can be long. Coming from the North, I know this well. The night can be so long; and the light of the day so short….but by all the gods, spirits, peoples, birds, beasts and creation is it ever beautiful.

Below is the link previously mentioned.


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