“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
I took a bad fall hiking two weekends ago, and had to continue walking almost another two miles on the nine-mile trail before reaching the base from where my friends and I started our adventure.
To recover, when I got home I laid low for a few days alternating between taking Epson salt baths and icing my legs.
At first the reprieve from being “a go -getter” felt restless, as I just wanted to be healed and beyond all this “sitting still” time my body was demanding.
Increasingly, I took these moments of self-nurturance to observe a few things:
- While I slowed down, the world around me seemed so much in a hurry. I began wondering why everyone was rushing. All those things I dashed about to get done suddenly seemed so meaningless as I took care of my body, which became my number one priority. As I have repeatedly learned through healing from breast cancer, the body cannot heal if it is racing about. It needs rest. I claimed rest for myself by sleeping in, moving slowly, and disengaging from others to “be” with myself.
- So many people sent me loving messages via social media, which was kind. I was grateful for the sweet notes. Yet, sadly, our instant mode of communicating has replaced the need for physical care. What I also really wished for was someone to bring me ice for my legs, soup for dinner, or to unpack the hiking gear and groceries from my car. Many of us are just “too busy” to accommodate one another in these ways these days.
- At the same time, I also felt great love from friends at a distance who called to see how I was doing. I hadn’t heard from many of them in a long time, and knowing I was injured, they showed concern. These “surprise” calls touched me deeply.
Bodily injuries (or illnesses) can make us feel vulnerable. It is okay to “need.” I couldn’t feign smiles when my legs were shaky and aching. Instead, I gave myself tender acceptance of my temporary fragile condition and didn’t pretend I felt all right when I was physically hurting.
In the process, I have gained a joy in softening, of not being the “strong one” anymore. I embraced the gentleness within that I so longed for from others.
The “old me” of driven years before would have found a way to hike the following weekend. The “new me” is relishing the slower space of using downtime to get caught up, to connect with friends in a more meaningful way, to rest by sitting in movie theatres watching some of the latest releases and taking long day trips where little walking is required.
Laying low is a great way to bring the pendulum of performing and continually “doing” back to center. I am not so sure I can speed up again too soon. Pacing life a few notches below my normal action mode makes me feel more abundant and content.
To the gifts of slowness,
The above photo, shot near Lake Pleasant in Arizona, where I was hiking when I fell, was taken by my friend Margaret, who also slipped that day.
Originally published at www.supportmatters.com.