Much of my adult life has felt like a walking billboard for a “Never Say Never!” campaign. Whether it’s going back to school to get my Master’s degree, having two kids under two, living in the state of Ohio, or becoming a person who runs outdoors on a regular basis by choice, I’ve learned that the things I say I’ll never do don’t necessarily hold true as life evolves.
So about that last one: running outdoors by choice. At some point, I became a runner. I’m not winning races or breaking records, but this thing I said I’ll “never” do has emerged as something I don’t want to live without. This could be directly connected to the need for an endorphin release after having two kids under the age of two—something I thought I’d never have the courage or ability to survive—but I’m not pointing any fingers!
Running has become an outlet for me, something that moves both my body and emotions in a way that feels incredibly helpful to me. Over the past couple of years, however, my body hasn’t been able to keep up as well as I’d like it to. I’ve begun experiencing near-debilitating pain in my hip that not only impacts my running, but also basic daily activities like walking or sleeping. I’ve been troubleshooting and tending to it for a while now, utilizing various therapies, supplements, and medical professionals. What I’ve found is that the most useful pain reliever is the one I have the hardest time accessing: rest.
If I take a few days off from running, my hip begins to behave as if it’s young and healthy again. So I, too, believe I’m young and healthy again. Then I take my young and healthy joints on another therapeutic run and, shortly afterwards, we’re limping once again. I have been tending and mending this little joint for years now, and yet gentleness, rest, attention, and care continue to be needed here—whether I’m running or not.
My daughter has a unicorn stuffed animal that she adores. Recently, a barely visible hole formed in its body, and it started slowly spilling out its seed-like stuffing onto her bed. We told her that we needed to take the beloved unicorn for a little bit while we fixed it. As we mended the unicorn’s wound, this inevitably created a new wound that needed tending to: my daughter’s grief and fear at the temporary loss of her stuffed animal.
It’s as if we can never completely cover all of the holes in the boat. As my hip sidelines me, I am then moved to tend to the mental and emotional consequences of not being able to run. And herein lies the burden and the beauty.
Maybe healing doesn’t just take some time. Maybe healing actually takes a lifetime, as long as we make space for and embrace it.
Once one thing appears to be back in working order, it seems that something else needs tending. My aging joints and I are starting to wonder if maybe the gentleness, rest, attention, and care that my hip is begging for is not a prescription, it’s the whole point.
The posture with which we approach mending that which is broken may just be the one that we’re meant to stay in because whether it’s our hips or our heart or our insides spilling out onto the bed beneath us, so much is constantly begging to be seen and tended to with excessive gentleness. Mending, then, is not an anomaly but a norm. We are constantly mending whatever is aching in our body, mind, or heart—not because we are that broken, but because life is that demanding, that even our stuffed animals don’t make it through unscathed.
Gentleness, rest, attention, and care is not something to be prescribed but a way of life to subscribe to on a daily basis. If you’re anything like me, you can say you’ll “never” subscribe to such a way of living, and then see how much beauty unfolds as you inevitably begin tending to your beautiful self.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies—she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory has two daughters, Evelyn and Annie, who are raising her as much as she is raising them. She uses writing as a way to tell stories that surface the places of connection in our humanity.