My coach (Jenny) said this in the 6am class to a tall gentleman who thought he had paused too long in the bottom of his back squat. Jenny wasn’t trying to be profound — she was just trying to be helpful — but in that moment she was both.
Life is like that: stalled, sometimes. Or at least it seems so to us, the impatient actors on the stage, always wanting action or dialogue or a curtain to close and a new act to start. Sometimes there is effort and struggle in our lives and we think we are not getting somewhere. But we are. We just don’t know it yet.
The thing to remember in these frustrating moments of stasis, to cling to like a branch in a fast-moving river, is that if you’re not going down, if you’re not still descending, if you’re not plummeting and screaming, that’s a good thing. Your downward momentum has stopped. Now you just need to gather your strength to go up.
I remember a white-water rafting trip long ago where the river guide told me: “You might get tossed from the boat. If that happens, point your feet downstream, calm down, and breathe every time you pop above the water. You’re going to go under again, but if you breathe every time you get the chance, you’ll be okay until someone can pull you up and out.”
Good advice, for the river or life. Breathe and gather your strength. Because as long as you’re not going down, you’re going up.
“What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to makes messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.” — Anne Lamott, “Bird by Bird”