With his genius for writing in his later years as Emperor, Aurelius produced a series of essays describing his view of the world, matters within it, and one’s place among those. (You know, fun and light reading!) Originally entitled “To Himself,” these essays have been compiled into the twelve books that make up the modern publication of Aurelius’s Meditations, considered one of the foremost texts of Stoic philosophy.
Stoicism is a kind of “practical philosophy,” because its principles are based on implementable actions, rather than highfalutin ideals. The texts of Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus are ones I think everyone should read and re-read (I’m in the process of both myself), because they teach simply how to be a good person, having a duty to self and others, and respecting the nature of the world.
This is not just a thinly-veiled excuse for my extended absence from posting, although between therapy sessions I have been very busy exploring the best snorkeling spots around Maui, believe me! It is more of a reflection on the evolution of the process: in addition to the physical gains I make every time I visit this island, I am always able to better observe, when I am out here, the growth I have made in other ways.
By always applying myself to the task before me, as Aurelius suggests, I realize I have made strides in so many unexpected ways...
Looking back to mid-May when I had the big breakthrough to do half-standing squats (my knees were supported) on my own, that was an intermediate step to get to the above skating position. And that was just six weeks ago!
When I came to Maui last month, we assessed what I needed: stability in a stagger-stance position, as you see here. I could only be ready for the exercise above, CoreAlign skates, if I felt comfortable with one foot being behind the other, as you see in both photos.
After developing connection to the kneeling position not quite a year ago, I had a period of six months where my standing didn’t get any better. Kneeling still worked, but nothing we tried seemed to help the fact that when I became vertical, my whole body turned off.
The rapidity of gains here serves to remind me in a big way that during the plateau, I actually was improving, I just did not and could not know it. Patience, lots and lots of eyes-on-the-prize, grit-my-teeth patience every day, combined with a willingness to constantly question and reinvent my exercises, was what enabled those improvements to come forth.
It is Independence Day, so I will end with this photo: I’m just bursting with excitement about the fact that all this progress in the therapy studio actually translates to more ability to stand with my friends and go on adventures, like this one to Hana, on the very far side of Maui. I am standing here with my college roommate Anthony, who came out to visit, as well as Johnny, a new friend on the island. As you can see, I am standing entirely unsupported at this Wai’anapanapa beach railing, and it felt absolutely incredible.