“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur Ashe
Whenever I go see my Rolfer Jennie, I look forward to the wisdom she shares with me. As a Rolfer and Bodyworker of twenty-five years and an expert in the mind-body connection, she has it by the bucket-load.
Recently, upon visiting her, I fell into my old familiar trap of wanting to be ‘fixed’ or perhaps wanting her to have a simple answer for me with regards to some tension in my inner leg that had been progressing (even though I’m fully aware things are never simple with the structural scoliosis in my body).
So as we began working, and she pinpointed several things that were going on, I said with a sigh, “I’m just going to have to continually bring my attention to different areas, aren’t I? My spine is never going to just be pain-free or without other problems cropping up that are connected to it?”
And she replied with the crystal-clear clarity that Jennie always does.
“Darling, you start with where you are. You always start with where you are and work from there no matter what stage you’re at or how much work you’ve already done.”
And this really couldn’t be truer, not only for our health, fitness, and what’s going on in our bodies, but for everything else in our lives as well.
You see, for many years now I’ve been doing a lot of work on my body, on myself, and on building businesses, and although a fascinating journey, at times it’s not easy.
There’s always a temptation to want to be further along the road than we already are, to have it all figured out, be stronger, more balanced, ‘fixed,’ and have everything feeling amazing.
And we can sometimes tell ourselves that when we reach a goal we’ve set, or we finally get something we’ve wanted for a while, that we’ll be ‘sorted’ or happy or things will perhaps seem easier.
But we’re forgetting that every time we shift, every time we unwind, and every time we strengthen and then let go of something, there is always something new that will require our attention, because we’re never ‘done.’
There is always a new area that needs our energy and nourishment. And there is always a new layer to educate ourselves on underneath every layer of ourselves that we have already shed.
And this is what Jennie and I discovered in my body. We’d realized that some work we’d done together to open my spine and neck had been hugely transformative. But as my body had adjusted to the new pattern (which is pretty awesome on its own), because I’m not naturally perfectly straight and balanced, a new imbalance had occurred in my leg, and my body had found a new way to compensate in the only way it knew how.
I could have viewed that as an annoyance (don’t get me wrong, at times I do get angry with my body and the way I was born, and at first I did). But then I realized that instead, I could decide to view it as a new challenge and a new interesting layer to work with and unwind, and get curious about what I could learn from it.
The point here is that we can’t rush change.
Meaningful, lasting change to our development, to our patterns, to our beliefs, our bodies, and to our lives cannot be rushed.
Because no good thing, no amazing thing worth doing, was ever created in some slap dash kind of a way.
When we try to rush life and try to get to the ‘finish line,’ when we try and force ourselves to do something new in a way that doesn’t feel fully aligned for us (much less forgetting to celebrate how far we’ve already come), what usually happens is that it simply doesn’t stick.
It’s like when we throw ourselves into a new exercise routine that requires us to suddenly get up two hours earlier every day. The results are usually injury, exhaustion, or resentment because we’re doing it as a result of feeling we have to, in a way that doesn’t sit right with who we are, and we’re pushing ourselves too hard, too fast.
We’ve got to work gradually on our deeper, more profound change.
We’ve got to open ourselves up to working on things carefully, layer by layer.
We’ve got to exercise more patience with ourselves.
We’ve got to allow our truth and our message to evolve as we evolve and figure out what we need to serve us.
And we’ve definitely got to acknowledge and celebrate how far we’ve come more frequently so that we can practice being kinder to ourselves along the way.
So can you let yourself off the hook here and just be okay with starting where you are at right now?
Having got to somewhere you wanted to be doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be more new challenges ahead, but neither does it mean you have to start all over again; you’re just starting from a new place.
We’re never ‘done,’ we’re never finished, and for the things we really love and are passionate about, why would we want to be?
So how about getting excited about that instead of frustrated?
How about welcoming it in with fondness and anticipation instead of impatience?
And what would it feel like to just be okay with being where you are right now while knowing that you’re doing your best, you’re moving forward, and you’re more than equipped and ready for what’s next?