I’ve got this shoulder that acts up from time to time. I popped it out of joint a little binding a yoga pose a couple of years back. Truthfully I was practicing too hard and deep in that class and was kind of asking for an injury (especially since I was teaching senior citizens at the time). I rested it for a while and yet it kept flaring up. I went to a physical therapist for a while and that helped a lot.
But still every once in a while it flares up. Usually when I’ve lifted something too heavy or worked too intensely with my arms. It is frustrating at best. I want to be able to lift heavy things, I want to be able to swim as many laps as possible as fast as possible. I want, I wish, I strive.
And there in lies the problem.
You see my shoulder issue has become not just an injury for me, it has become a metaphor. For all my striving and efforts. For my tendency to handle things by myself instead of asking for a hand from another. For wanting to be stronger than may actually be possible.
When I feel that familiar painful twinge, it is time to start asking the hard questions of myself. Do you really need to try and match the person in the lane swimming next to you in speed and endurance? Is your ego really that weak? Did you really have to carry all the church nativity costume boxes to the storage room all by yourself? Couldn’t you have waited for a time when others were around to share?
Whenever I have to pull out the ice pack and advil, I usually start hearing the old Indigo Girls song, “Girl with the Weight of the World in Her Hands” play in my head. For the pain in my shoulder is usually a sign that I am letting things get a little out of balance. In some effort of ego or martyrdom or both I have inevitably taken too much upon my limited shoulders. I have not allowed and trusted others to share part of the load. I striven to prove the amount of good I can do until I have actually done harm to myself.
So then out of necessity, I finally slow down. I back off of my ambition and need for effort. I give others a chance to do things. I even, Gasp, ask for help. It is kind of nice actually. It is a relief to now I am not Atlas after all. The world will keep spinning even while my little shoulder is resting on ice.
So I am off to spend some time with my ice bag now and think about letting go a bit. Maybe this time as I heal I’ll remember to keep a nice balance of weight on my shoulder.
Is there a repetitive injury you suffer with that has taught you a truth in life? What lesson does it remind you of when it flares up again?