I can often tell at the outset of the week when I’m about to get myself contorted. My schedule paints an accurate picture of the times of my life when I ignore reasonable boundaries of pace and order. I use my flexibility to work and rework the schedule until I can fit everything I want into it. And if I move quickly enough from item-to-item, I can complete the process without noticeable effects.
I hyperextend. Instead of being strong, I flex. The parts of me which bend well, I allow to hold all the weight.
Let’s back up. Certain parts of our bodies were designed to work in certain ways. Some parts operate to provide us with strength and stability. Take our long leg muscles, our glutes, and the many core muscles that wrap around our midsection. They hold us up.
Other parts give us flexibility and movement. Our joints allow us to bend, our shoulders and hips rotate to allow us to walk, reach and grasp. They move us.
Having one of these abilities without the other significantly impairs our experience. Most humans have some degree of both in their lives, but very often we have a favorite mode from which we operate. For example, I tend to hyperextend in my joints. Where the average elbow will stop, my elbows will see how many more degrees it can stretch. This sounds fancy and fun until you turn 65 and have spent your life asking your shoulder function as your back muscle should have been all along, because it often turns into other issues. The joints get inflamed and fired up at the overuse.
For folks who operate out of their strength, change of position becomes a challenge. That hamstring is a humdinger of a powerhouse for athletes, propelling bodies faster down the field. Yet it can be a challenge for many people with such powerful strength to bend over and touch their shins, let alone toes. All strength and no flex spells injury when you try to perform in not-so-perfect conditions.
Neither operating out strength nor flexibility is “bad” or “good.” They just are.
As my teacher says, “As the body, so the soul.”
So my hyperextension manifests itself in my life as well. I can bend and work a schedule until I can do everything I want, often to the expense of other people or my own exhaustion. Other folk do the opposite. We all have our ways. We figure out our shortcuts based on our habits.
So now, I reflect. I’m asking the flexibility of my schedule to hold me up when perhaps I shouldn’t be (such regular activity will eventually result in burnout, I’m sure). So where are the places designed to give me strength and stability and life that I don’t tend to lean into?
Perhaps my schedule isn’t the only place I ask flexibility to do the work. Marriages, friendships, nutrition, rest – all of these things can be sources of strength or flexibility. But in what ways do they exhibit evidence of over-extending or strength to the point of rigidity?
As the body, so the soul. So, for now, I watch, I listen, I observe. I notice the habits and perhaps I will decide to try a different way of moving about in this world.