"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."
Last year I climbed Mt. Adams. Together with my husband Tom and two dear and fearless friends, we made the climb to the top, and I'm not sure I've ever felt stronger in all of my 65 years. We had strategically trained to make it to the summit with hikes of increasing difficulty and elevation, time on treadmills, strength training, (mostly) clean eating, and visualizing ourselves at the top. Standing on what felt like the top of the world, I felt like I was at the top of my game. The strength I felt that day stayed with me, and I began to imagine more hikes, more backpacking, maybe even a pilgrimage or two. I didn't, however, imagine myself back at the top of the mountain, because we did happen to get lost on the way down, and spent an unexpected night on the mountain. It was like laying in our driveway. We shivered in the 29 degree temperature under space blankets, watched the Perseid meteor shower, and waited for the day to dawn. It. Was. Epic.
Sometime after the new year I was working out in the gym, determined to keep increasing my strength and stamina for all of the trails and adventures still ahead. Everything was going according to plan until one day when I was attempting to stand up from a cross legged seated position without any assistance. The reason I wanted to do it is because I had read somewhere that NOT being able to do it is one of 10 signs that you might die early. I had been done it once after all of the training for Mt. Adams, but I wanted to keep the odds in my favor. As I stood up, something happened. I wasn't sure what, but it wasn't good. Over the next few weeks things continued to deteriorate, and I was in constant pain. It hurt to sit. It hurt to walk. It hurt to lay down. It hurt just looking out the window at Mt. Adams, much less imagining ever making it to the top again.
Working with what I can only describe as my AMAZING care team, it was determined that the ligaments supporting my pelvis were injured and overstretched, and my pelvis had become unstable. As it turns out, the road to recovery is long, the steps I've had to take are small, and the pace I've had to set is slow. Painstakingly slow. When the pain set in, so did the discouragement, and I began to wonder if I'd ever be able to walk without pain, much less hike again. If I'd be able to push myself at the gym and get the good endorphins of a good workout. More than a few times I wanted to ignore the pain and push harder. More than a few times, I wanted to just give up.
What I finally came to understand is that there is a difference between giving in and giving up. In order to get well, in order to heal and regain my strength, I had to give in to the reality of my situation. The process of healing and regeneration, stability and strength could only happen if I accepted the only road to my recovery. Small steps + Slow pace = Steady progress.
What I didn't have to do was give up on what might be possible. Wrapping my arms around the truth of my injury set me free to begin working with what I had to work with. Once again I was reminded that it is the truth that sets us free.
I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer.
Remember that giving in to what is, doesn't mean giving up to what can be. It is the first step towards what is possible.
Onward and upward.
Maybe even to the top of Mt. Adams again.