I can't remember when my foot pain started--around April or May. About a year after I started running. That I could run at all felt like a small miracle to me, that I kept running through the winter seemed like another. At first I thought I needed new shoes. Then I thought it was the new shoes getting broken in. Then I thought I had overstretched my feet in yoga class. Then came the run-walk combo. A trip to the doctor. A daily foot care regimen and new shoes. And finally, things were looking up.
Then a couple weeks ago I hit my little toe on my husband's shoe, so hard that a good portion of my foot bruised. Earlier this week it was feeling better, and then I hit it again on a chair while cleaning my studio. It's been back to limping ever since.
I tend to believe that life will do whatever it takes to teach us the lessons we most need. After nearly five months of issues with my feet, I promise: I'm listening.
I've had a chronic problem with speed--I can't feel it well, the way some people can't feel if they are hungry or full. You're going really fast, my friends have told me before. Really? I say. I couldn't tell.
I'll do some things to slow down, like knitting a hat and reading a book at the same time. It's hilarious, usually, to see how bad my attempts are. Even in leisure, I pick things that allow me to measure and mark my progress.
I remember during the run-walk combo days, looking at the runners and bicyclists shooting by me with envy. Why couldn't I go fast, too? Why couldn't I run? Even children can run.
But today I went back up to the meadow, gingerly stepping and spending more time on my left foot than on my right. I went because I needed to see the morning sun and be with the trees. Hobbling along, I finally knew that nothing was wrong. I shared the lanes with dog-walkers, runners, bicyclists and I could see that we are all on the same path. I know this in my work more and more all the time, too--that it's not about my work, but about the work. That I am just one voice in a larger conversation. Others are sprinting through it, or racing in crowds. But the people going fast may not know what it's like to feel the rising sun soak slowly into their faces; they are probably unfamiliar with the feeling of the tree trunks beneath their hands. They bring something of their own to the path, to the conversation, but even limping along--so do I.
The more slowly I go, on foot or through my daily tasks or creative work, the more I sense there is something old and wise underneath the bustle. Some treasure to unearth in the slowness that will become my gift to my fellow travelers, my contribution to the path.
I can use all the help on really learning this lesson that I can get, so if you have any wisdom to share about slowing down--and I mean REALLY slow--please share it in the comments.