A few days post-snow storm and the sun is doing it’s duty out on the trails. Shady areas are still snow packed but most of this morning’s running route was either wet mud, or ice, or both. A few hundred yards in I took a tumble as I completely lost my footing. This was not a day for finding purchase.
After that first slip I sensed my body tensing up, becoming rigid, doing what it could to control each step. This amount of inner strain generated an incredible drain of energy. I forced my legs and back to relax. Focused on each of my knees and ankles and hips and allowed them to flex instead of holding rigid. Making this happen was not instinctual or automatic, and it took some determination to stick with it, but with focused practice the effect was significant! I knew that any footfall could slip or slide. My brain anticipated this and readied the body to move in any unexpected direction. My pace slowed but became consistent, and my breathing steadied. I could get into a groove.
To an outsider, I must have looked strange: all haphazard gait and muddy shoes. But internally I was having a blast. A little out of balance this way, then lean that way, then pinwheel the arms back the other way. Slow and deliberate, ascending steadily upward along the trail.
I observed this mental state was similar to how my years-ago snowboard instructor taught me to finally master linking on my board: rather than standing rigid on the board, I learned I could have much more control by bending my knees and squatting a bit – allowing my body to flex and lean in response to the variations in slope and speed.
Seems there’s a metaphor here as well for meeting our daily life challenges. Our human countenance is built for adaptation. The bumps and twists are coming. We can try to resist them by standing with stiff minds and bodies, or we can learn to flex a little. Slipping and sliding is the sloppy way we move through life, but it doesn’t have to be unpleasant.