When It Hurts Like Hell… Find Somebody Who Has Been There.

I recently had the opportunity to take a trip to Zambia. It was an amazing trip; immersed in value, meaning and pain. Our trip from Lusaka to our destination took just over three hours in a taxi. I was seated behind the driver with not much opportunity for moveability. About two hours into the trip my knees were aching. I was desperate for a stretch and an escape from the contained space. But who wants to complain? And so, I endured misery for the sake of a stoic appearance.

Upon my return to South Africa, I began to experience this acute pain in my left glute muscle that had throbbing ramifications down my left leg. Simple tasks like putting on my socks was a battle of grit. I was battling with my sciatic nerve, and it was freaking painful. Like most muscle type injuries, my initial hope was that I just needed to ‘ride’ this out for a day or two and then improvement would come. Suck it up and it will go away.

When It Hurts Like Hell… Find Somebody Who Has Been There.

A week later, despair and frustration were settling in. There had been zero improvement. The only change was seen in my habits, where standing was now a far better option than sitting. Due to a busy travelling diary, I took matter into my own hands. Embrace the pain and stretch it out. And so, my early mornings, following an uncomfortable sleep, became an effort to stretch my way back to health. It seemed like a good plan; after all, it’s a trapped nerve. Let’s ‘un-trap’ it. A few days later, my good idea was soon exposed as a terrible idea, when following a 15-minute stretch routine, I bent down to pick something up, and ended up on the floor. The whole muscle seized, and the hope of moving forward was the reality of backward motion. Finally, I understood a truth: I need some help.

In the physio’s room, after a thorough and somewhat painful examination, she explained what was going on. She also shared that what my muscle needed was gentle rehabilitation, not stubborn stretching. And so here I am, standing and typing, coming to terms with the knowleadge that what I most need is patience – and the importance of seeking help.

It’s an interesting and transformative thought: whatever you are going through, somebody out there has gone through it. My challenges are not unique. There are people out there who have experienced these challenges or know a lot about them. That’s why we need mentors, why we have experts, why we share knowleadge. Why do I so often become the man in the arena who is alone; who alone is trying to figure this ‘stuff’ out?

And then what about patience? Why do I so often think that healing, wisdom and growth is like the quick serve hamburger stall? Technology might have made some things instant, but be careful to not extrapolate this into areas where time is the core component for progress. I seem to so often forget this and move into a rush mentality around things that require self-talk like, ‘Mike, slow down, ponder, pause, procrastinate, be patient on this matter.’ Richard Rohr shares these words that I desperately desire to embody as a part of my displayed consciousness. He says…

“Beginner’s mind is a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger. This is a rare feeling in today’s treacherously seductive culture however, because it is so immediately satisfying it is hard to remain spiritually hungry. We give answers to quickly, take away pain to easily, and to quickly stimulate.”

The Importance of seeking help and patience

In summary, here are two questions that need to be engage more frequently:

What are you going through that does not require you to travel alone?

What needs time?

And yes, I have a new sense of empathy for anyone who has sciatic pain, and who has to drive in a taxi for an extended distance.

Feeling First: Emotions Drive Our Choices, Not Facts.

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