Resistance is NOT Futile

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I was a scrawny, asthmatic kid.  I couldn’t do a push up nor run more than a minute without wheezing and seeing stars.

I’ve now run too many races to count and have completed multiple ultramarathons.

I didn’t take a magic pill that suddenly alleviated my symptoms and turned me into Forrest Gump on the road.  If only it were that easy. 

Nothing worthwhile is easy.

I worked.  I worked my butt off and faced pain and fear and sloth and resisted all the negative thoughts.

I ran for that one minute until my breath was ragged and chest tight and ran through it.  One minute of pain became two minutes of pain.  Then it was three minutes of running with two minutes of pain. 

Step after step.  Eventually mile after mile.  Race after race over the years.  Through setbacks (winter in New York, knee injuries, babies and family illnesses, back injuries, work, etc.) always getting back on the road or the dreadmill.  Starting back from zero repeatedly but with the experience of having done it before and knowing that with enough effort I could get back to where I had been before as well as go further.  Adding distance and difficulty to push through and overcome the obstacles that life put in my way.

Resilience on the road.  A lesson for relationships and work.

Not every run is good, in fact far from it.  But every mile is better than sitting  on the couch, declining while reclining so that my body and spirit deteriorate.  The months of forced rest and slow recuperation from a broken leg while training for the longest race of my life (save life itself) forced new strategies for dealing and growing. Just like all the other obstacles I had overcome.  New strengths revealed and created out of necessity.

Resistance creates excellence.

When you lift weights, you micro-tear the muscles and they heal and grow.  Same thing with our relationships: having the difficult conversations is uncomfortable in the moment and there might be some residual soreness the next few days but the recovery makes us stronger.

You can extend the analogy yourself, if you are willing to expend the mental energy and look at your situations.  This is the metacognitive equivalent of cross training.  Take a minute and think about where you have resistance in your life that you are avoiding because that weight is too heavy.

That resistance will make you better, if you have the internal strength to push it.

Sometimes it might feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Maybe it is the need to generate money.  Maybe it is kids, or aging parents, or our own health.  Finishing that degree.  The crumbling relationship.  The Labors of Hercules included cleaning the stables and slaying the hydra (which kept regrowing heads and becoming more difficult to defeat the longer the battle) as well as spelling Atlas and holding the Heavens up.  Maybe this feels like your world right now.

Even mighty Hercules was not fully formed out of the womb, the paragon of strength.  He had to improve over time, to adapt and overcome.  And he was given the choice of the life of ease or overcoming difficulties and facing the Labors to achieve immortality.  You might not wish for ambrosia but just a night off and a nice quiet meal, and that respite will be there for you at some point soon.  Hercules rested his body and spirit as a demigod because even half-divine people still need to recuperate, as do we all.

But we get back at it, climbing the next mountain and setting our eyes on the next goal, the next nigh on impossible task that pushes us and forces us to be better, because you can’t reach Olympus without a difficult climb, a Herculean effort.

Maybe you don’t want a seat among the gods, to achieve immortality and that is completely acceptable.  But do you want the forgotten life of being soft and comfortable and never knowing what you could become?  What could you push yourself to be by pushing against the heavy weights of work or your other limits? What could you make of yourself by picking up the burdens of responsibility (physical and metaphysical), overcoming those difficulties, and building your power?  You could go farther than you ever thought.

Do the difficult thing.  Because resistance creates excellence.

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