July 13, 2017

Health : Humble Warrior

A common icebreaker in yoga classes is asking about your favorite pose.  I think I have different favorite poses for different categories--a favorite comforting pose, a favorite challenging pose.  But my overall favorite is humble warrior.  I love the idea of blending strength and humility.  Your legs have to be strong to keep you stably rooted to the ground, and at the same time you bow towards the ground.  It's one of my favorite feelings, this balance between the embrace of individual power and the acceptance of a bigger force.

Most recently during our climbing trip to the Emeralds, I realized this feeling is the main reason rock climbing is so powerful for me.  People (myself included) often ask why I actively seek doing something that often terrifies me.  Usually I talk about how it's good to be challenged, that it's satisfying to climb against fears of falling, how this translates to real life, etc etc.  It all sounds kind of reasonable, but these explanations don't really capture what I feel.  And maybe that's because there's so much immediate to think about when climbing that I'm often not mindful of what underlies the movement.

Lately, as I've been focusing on the mental and fear-based aspects of climbing, I have found the most growth in fully believing in contrasting concepts--that I have the capacity to complete climbs that are scary for me, and that I'm ultimately subject to the nature of the rock and the physics of motion.  Agency over my movement on the one hand, and the immutability of my environment on the other.  I'm kind of love with this, because it combines the height of what I can do with the depth of the world I live in.  The power of person alongside the power of place, this feels more like a coalescing and less like the collision that characterizes most battles of force.  

In many ways, this is the physical manifestation of how I feel about my work in medicine and life in general.  That we should recognize our immense power to have impact on other people and our environment, while respecting the limits of our efforts against the course of history and human development.  For me, the closest I've come to real purpose is throwing myself into this dynamic, of continually, humbly creating strength and re-creating it when one force overcomes another.

I've written before about how valuable and healthy it is to feel strong. I'll never understimate how much of my love for rock climbing has to do with how much I love feeling strong.  But I know now it's more about how that strength fits into the pockets of what I'm climbing--sometimes these crimps and crevices give way to our hands, and sometimes we collapse into them.

Zion, Utah

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