A few years ago, I would hesitate to lift anything - even testing something outside of my strength could mean several days of pain in walking and moving.
Now? There are decidedly things I still can't lift. But simply trying to lift them doesn't cause me any trouble. I can twist and catch a closing door without staggering in pain or having the sinking feeling that I'm going to pay for it later. I can get something down off a tall shelf I can barely reach without the familiar twang of trying to do too much. I can go for a brisk walk over uneven terrain without the fear that one careless step is going to jar me into a day of couch-rest and icepacks.
Honestly, I have no idea when this happened. At some point, I stopped flinching when a door was closing on me, and I don't know when. I've stopped slowing down on uneven terrain, and I didn't even realize. I reach for things without even thinking about it.
And that didn't really occur to me until... today.
My business hasn't run all that smoothly. Some of my speedbumps and broken dreams I've blogged about. Some of them, I will take to my grave, because they involve other people who don't deserve the colored publicity it would give them, and even without names, it would be obvious who they are. (Not just one or two people, so if you're thinking 'oh, god, that's ME,' don't. It's a vast and varied and frequently unfair collection of individuals.)
At some point, I realized... I'm flinching. I'm waiting for that closing door to cause me pain because I don't expect myself to be able to catch it right. I'm expecting that step on uneven terrain to hurt me, so I slow down and tip-toe. I'm not reaching for the top shelf, because I'm so sure I'll spend a day on icepacks afterwards, metaphorically speaking.
I'm expecting the pain and betrayal and failure.
But I didn't get to where I am now with my back by sitting still, waiting to hurt myself. I worked out at the gym, took bellydance lessons, did situps even when I didn't want to. I took walks, made myself be brisk, stretched.
I'm not doing that with my projects.
I will probably never be able to run again.
That was a bitter admission and for years I refused to make it - I used to be a distance runner, and I would sometimes run to school just for the thrill of it. But it was an admission that had to be made, eventually, and making it allowed me to get on with making the best of it.
Some of what I do is going fail. And fail spectacularly, at that.
But if I let that fear and certainty of pain keep me from continuing to work at my projects, all of them will fail.
So, it's time for a little more discipline: a little less 'woe is me' and a little more 'look out world.'
I may never be able to run, or turn Ellen Million Graphics into a world dominating powerhouse of fantasy art, or write that blockbuster series of bestsellers. But I've still got big things to do, and I intend to do them.
And I haven't entirely given up on that running thing, either...