No, I`m not talking about a forklift, or a travel trailer or an aerobics routine, I`m referring to life`s ups and downs. The thought just came to mind as I was driving home from the studio after our Neon pink Cardio fun class Saturday morning. You know that good kind of tired that comes from a week of fun and well lived moments?
That`s exactly the feeling that came over me this weekend, and believe me, it`s not the Old Brown sherry we shared at the studio that caused this! I was thinking back to life in Ermelo exactly a year ago, when we had gone into strict lockdown with no certainty about the future.
There was no prospect of opening the studio, of hosting a Winter Challenge, of sharing my creative content with my members. Yes, of course the first three weeks of lockdown were exciting, but weeks quickly turned into months and there were times that I really wished that Lockdown had simply been a bad nightmare or worldwide April Fool`s joke…And here we are today, in the midst of a New Year Challenge, with a bustling studio and enthusiastic members.
Today I`m thinking back onto that time of Lockdown with so much gratitude, realizing how the ultimate low has turned into such a high for us, with fitness friends joining us on Zoom from all over the world, and with our YouTube channel on the brink of reaching a proud, all-time high of 2000 subscribers.
Within one year I had gone from an ultimate low to an exciting high point in my career.
Alas, I was also reminded of life`s highs and lows when Linda and Elma bravely returned to the studio on Wednesday, after they had both sadly lost their husbands recently to Covid. I just realized there’s nothing I could really say to comfort them, but I am so proud of them for taking the courageous step to come to class.
I once read something amazing about grief in Dean Koontz`s novel “Odd hours”. He wrote: “Grief can destroy you – or focus you. You can decide that a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you all alone. Or you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time. That it wasn`t just a movie and dinner together, not just watching sunsets together or washing dishes together. It was everything, it was the why of life. And in the end, you`re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by the gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, is to disrespect the gift of life.”
As Anne Lamont put it: “It`s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
My heart bled to see Linda and Elma`s grief-stricken faces, and I silently pray that in weeks to come they will find a little calm amongst the chaos and also that the studio will be a small sanctuary where they will feel bold enough to just be themselves.
…The “hilo” thing made me think of a weird bracelet my grandmother always used to wear – On one end was a black bead and on the other end a white bead. She explained that the white bead carried water from Everest, the highest point in the world, while the black bead carried mud from the Dead sea, the lowest point on earth.
Grandma told me that the word “lokai” is derived from the Hawaiian word “lokahi”, which means harmony, or, to blend opposites. I didn`t fathom the true meaning of the Lokai bracelet back then, but today I understand better that the bracelet is simply a reminder that life is a cycle of highs and lows and somewhere in between we try to find our balance.
Yes, sometimes we want to shout from the rooftops that the unpredictability of life sucks, that it`s unfair that one minute you`re riding high with the wind whipping through your hair and the next minute you`re flat on your ass with a face full of gravel. But there must be something the low seasons in our lives want to teach us.
Years ago, I once visited “Uniewinkels” with my mom in Vereeniging – yes, there really was a shop like that where we purchased our school uniforms! There was a sign that said: “A complaint is an opportunity to improve service and increase sales at the same time…” I guess our personal down moments have that potential too. We can use our down moments to find our positives.
I know it`s impossible to compare the loss of a loved one with a daily down moment, and I don`t want to downplay those feelings of grief with this piece of writing. What I`m trying to convey is the message of the Lokai bracelet – sometimes you`re on top of the world – stay humble. Sometimes you hit a low – stay hopeful.
Life IS hard. Life is gritty. Life is full of ups and downs. Finding emotional balance will always be one of the biggest challenges in life. A Google search of “How to find balance in your life” brings up 332,000,000 results.
Maybe NYC yoga teacher Mindy Bacharach is right when she says: “Finding balance between our highs and lows is a lifetime project. It is ongoing. It`s not a finite goal at the end of which we will have a peaceful, calm and meaningful life.”
Sometimes your ultimate lows force you to look hard, for a long time, until you see a single glorious thing – a red rose outside your bedroom window, or your daughter in a yellow dress, or a full, dark sphere behind a crescent moon.
We owe it to ourselves to always pick ourselves up from the lows, to fall in love with life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, we should teach ourselves joy, over, and over and over again.
Every day IS a gift, some are just packaged better. But may we never forget that no matter how big we get in life, God is still bigger. And, when we feel to be at our lowest point, Satan is still at the bottom.
“Let it rain on some days, let yourself shiver on some cold nights, so when it`s Spring you`ll know why it was all worth going through”, writes Sanhita Baruah in “The art of letting go.” Without the lows, the highs will seem pointless. (Challenge members , please WhatsApp the next sentence to Mirna before 20.00)
We need the highs and the lows both to grow to our fullest potential. Just hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
Yours in fitness
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