Growing through Discomfort at Every Age of Life
In the picture is me and my grandfather after my first half marathon last summer.
"Pop" as I call him is an 87 year old Korean War Veteran. Obviously, being a veteran comes with an immense amount of struggle and hardship, but Pop has also been through a lot of difficult times in the past 60 years since he returned home from his 16 month tour overseas. I love talking to him because of the infinite amount of wisdom he holds from the lessons he has learned throughout his life. One of my favorite stories he tells is how he used to look up at the moon in Korea to get through his time at war because he knew that was the same moon that was over his family back in Connecticut. There's too many pieces of wisdom to include in one blog, but a moment we shared together a few days ago really resonated with me.
Recently, Pop has experienced some heart issues so he has been told to walk everyday by his doctor. When I say walk, I don't mean a light stroll around the kitchen. The doctor made it clear that he has to push himself to his limit because this is going to allow his heart to continue gaining strength moving forward.
Pushing yourself never comes easy. I think everyone would agree with that so his walks are occasionally resisted. Not this week though...
My mother and I have been joining Pop on his walks and a few days ago we pushed him right to the edge. He was huffing and puffing, but afterwards he felt great. The next day he got out there and he was able to push himself a little further. He had gotten better experiencing discomfort by proving to his body through his mind that he could still push past his self constructed limitations. He definitely can't physically accomplish what he could in the days back at basic training when he had to run 5 miles with a full field pack as he constantly reminds me, but he realized that he could strain himself more than his mind led him to believe at 87 years old.
This made me think of a moment I experienced this past weekend. I went running in the rain. Whether you run or not, you know that people typically don't go outside in the rain. Even though there's nothing about being outside in the rain that's truly harmful, we all know why people stay inside...Because it sucks being outside in the cold getting wet. I didn't want to go run, but I was in training mode for my ultramarathon so the miles had to get done. I put my shoes on and hit the roads. There was nobody outside and when I finished my run and took a shower I didn't think much of this fact. It wasn't until the next day when conditions outside were pristine that I began thinking about my run 24 hours prior. I didn't see a familiar face from the day before. In that moment, I realized I improved myself yesterday while a lot of people didn't. They let the rain and their minds stop them from going outside to get better.
Even though I didn't want to run in the unpleasant conditions, I still put my shoes on and headed out the door. My mind told me to "stay in bed," but I surpassed the limitation it was trying to place on me.
Your age doesn't matter. Obviously, we lose physical capability as we get older because it's part of life, but one thing that doesn't stop is the self constructed limitations that your mind places on your body. For myself, it was not wanting to run in the rain and for Pop it was not wanting to walk the extra hill, but we both defeated our mind's restraints and reaped the benefits.
It doesn't matter how old you are, everyone grows through discomfort.
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