There’s a sign in three foot letters on the side of a church I pass by frequently. It says “NEVER GIVE UP.” I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve written elsewhere about the value of accepting and thus transcending the fact that life is difficult. The idea is, once we accept this statement to be true, it’s no longer an obstacle to overcoming the challenges that inevitably come our way every day.
Last week when I was out on my morning circuit, three other words came to mind: “Pain. Purpose. Progress.” Individually, we understand these three words as they are presented. However, within these “three P’s” together lie additional insight to the idea of accepting difficulty, transcending it, and moving forward.
Pain: I’ve had chronic knee pain for some time. Lately it’s been in more in my right knee. The light running I’d been doing in the morning with the dogs is now reduced to a brisk walking pace. But there’s still pain. My left knee gives me periodic trouble too, the result of repeated injury and ACL reconstruction many years ago. All that aside, I force myself to get out and go every morning (workdays, at least). Why?
Purpose: As I’ve gotten older, the aches and pains I’ve heard about associated with middle age and made fun of by many a comic have definitely come true. While I’m not a great athlete, I’ve nearly always been active. I know that if I don’t move it, I’m going to lose it. I have a purpose in staying active, and that’s to stay healthy. I know I’m better off when I’m active. It helps my body, and my mind.
Progress: At the core, it’s about making some sort of incremental improvement, that’s feeds the twin, underlying goals I have: To make some progress, feeling better physically, and mentally, even if only a little. That progress is at the root of my effort.
I’ve been here before. Chronic pain is an old friend. If you think about it, it’s an old friend to ALL of us. We all have suffered some discomfort, many of us for prolonged periods of time.
Whether through illness, or injury (if we’re talking about physical pain), or emotional struggle and even depression due to difficulty in our life and relationships, we all have to deal with difficult times, with “pain” of some sort, during our lives.
At some point, rather than focus on the suffering, we have to focus on doing what’s within our power to mediate the cause(s) of that discomfort. We have to take control of our own circumstance as best we can, and work to make it better. Even if only in a minor way, by taking ownership of our situation, we take responsibility, and thus create a bit of dignity for our selves.
If we put these “Three P’s” together, they can become a motivator to keep moving forward. Through the Pain, with Purpose, to make some Progress toward whatever goal we have in mind. Through that very series of actions we’re sure to be better off. It might not happen quickly, but it WILL happen. NEVER GIVE UP.