Going Upstairs Backwards

There’s nothing like pain to make us aware of our habits. Spasms redirect our attention to clenched muscles that seem to control us, rather than the other way around. Shooting, stabbing, burning, stinging, throbbing, aching,  hurting, sore…pain. Sometimes mere discomfort distracts us from our automatic lives, and asks us to pay attention. Agony is overwhelming, and suffering is more chronic misery. But the regular discomforts often steal our focus and energies, and ask us to do something different. With a different focus, we may adjust our posture or stance, or where we sit and how we proceed.

This is true of any sort of pain. Physical, emotional, psychological, existential pain asks us to attend to the sensation. We often get stuck when confronted with pain. Too often we compensate with unintended consequences. Sometimes we  consciously ignore the signals, as though giving in to a toddler’s temper tantrum will reinforce the tendency for eruptions. It is often hard to know how to deal with discomforts and pain so that they are  not reinforced or cause other damage. Some people wallow, others martyr, most numb themselves. Dealing with discomfort and pain as a lesson, is often reduced to avoidance.

Over the last 10.5 months, while strengthening myself physically, and taking the time to better manage my physical health, I decided to write. With no timeline in mind, or even a  roadmap or GPS, I wanted to experiment in a way that I had never attempted before, and create conversations. Forever committed to strengthening parenting and family life, education, Culture and culture, and healthy homes, schools and communities, I learned that I could be  critical  while optimistic. Moreover, I could learn from everyday discomforts and sometimes pain and even agony, both my own and societal, that there are always lessons. In looking back over the essays that span less than a year, I am reminded of political events and societal changes that, for some, were painful or uncomfortable . Some moments have been liberating culminations of long, painful battles that now demand societal realignment. Some moments seem to be flare ups of old wounds or negative habits. Time seems to move more quickly than it used to as we are exposed to so much more information at lightening speed, and it is easy to forget moments that affected us–that gave us opportunities to not merely get over the pain, but to learn from it. In reflecting upon the last 10.5 months, I am amazed at what is possible in less than a year. Some pain is chronic; some acute. Discomforts are inevitable, but as we redirect our focus and energies, and adjust our postures and stances, and even where we sit and how we proceed, we may not only mitigate some pain, but move ourselves further ahead in ways that we may not have even considered.

With a recent flare of back trouble, I have been having immense pain sitting and in many positions. Walking up the stairs has been another difficulty. This is not a new situation, but like most aches and pains (and worse), the situation flares from time to time. This time, I decided to try walking up the stairs backwards. It takes me a little longer (not much) and at first I needed more support. But I get up the stairs now! With fewer spasms! Of course looking back one sees how far one has gone, but more than that, sometimes looking at where we were and how we held ourselves and then tweaking it, allows us to be in a better, more comfortable and healthier position to elevate ourselves.

2 thoughts on “Going Upstairs Backwards

  1. I am currently reading this with a back spasm that makes everything, including breathing, difficult. You’ve given me a more philosophical way to consider today’s discomfort. Great post!


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