I think "ego" carries a negative connotation because it is frequently used when “arrogance” or “self-righteousness” is more appropriate. This “ego” – which is less nuanced than the one that mediates between the id and the super-ego – is too frequently unaccompanied by an awareness of when it must be turned down or off, which can be crucial. A lot of the time, thinking highly of oneself is an obstruction to the openness of mind required to reach a goal, or to lead a team successfully. Stepping forward and stepping back, when placed correctly, are both honorable. Right now, I have to be comfortable with stepping back.
Over the last few weeks I have focused on strengthening the muscles that connect my shoulders to my hips. Within the context of muscle recovery – where now I'm working on the muscular strength to simply BE, before I can MOVE – this is certainly a time when I am going ‘back to basics.’
Both at home and at the gym, my exercises consist of very small, hyper-controlled movements, as opposed to the larger motions (like this one) which have been a major portion of my routine throughout. I am learning more about the importance of mastering tiny shifts in position, because that ability is a prerequisite to working properly on larger movements. It's that simple.
Makes sense, doesn't it? But, it took really feeling and truly understanding my lack of stability while standing on my own to be aware of the body positions I must strengthen.
This seems like a regression. Shouldn't I be past this already, with all the work I've done? How hard can it be to put one foot in front of the other once I stand up? Haven’t I proven I’m beyond the BASICS?
The truth is that, for my body, becoming really sturdy and capable of maintaining a stable position simply takes an absurdly long time, even while working at it for hours every day. My nervous system learns much more slowly than one that is undamaged, and I have to develop novel ways to communicate with it.
Laying the groundwork now for my body to be able to adapt more readily in the future is a monumental task – but the very fact that this is the underpinning of everything that must follow illustrates how great the reward can be for focusing on it now. It just comes with a bit of a reality-check about where I am in the recovery process.
Even though this new and necessary focus is at-odds with how I thought of my body, I must listen and respond to what it tells me. Tempting as it is to believe that I am beyond the basics – that would be pride coming forward – I have to be open, at every stage, to the possibility that my conception is incorrect. Denial is not an option.
I also strive to remember that the universe owes me nothing: “I deserve…” is not a healthy, or productive, phrase to use with anything related to recovery (and, frankly, little else besides). Really, I should only have a sense of gratitude for having been shown that I must revisit the fundamentals of posture before I can proceed; in the end, it is up to me to figure out how to improve. I am thankful, and I recognize that all worthwhile endeavors have frustrating realizations. Remember, Galileo had news that few wanted to hear…