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Just. Keep. Moving.



In the world of athletic stories, there’s a sub-genre of short films on YouTube, usually 15-20 minutes long, that follow an elite trail runner during a big race, usually a 100-miler. They head in with hopes of finishing first, or at least getting a personal best.


These films are seem legit. Since no one knows how things will turn out while they're filming, it's impossible to just make success stories that glorify the runner.


Often the race goes well, but once in a while the effort the runner thought would go well takes a turn for the worse. A recurring plot line in these is bad-luck tales is:


“I faced an injury (and/or stomach/bowel issues, dehydration, excessive heat etc). I thought I’d have to quit at the next aid station. But something from deep inside me (and/or the encouragement of my support crew) told me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”


Then one of two things happens. In the best case scenario, the runner eventually loosens up and gets their energy back. They start passing other runners and defy all expectation.


The more interesting plot line, though, is the one where the runner recovers enough to keep on keeping on with no hope of winning. For the rest of the race, they tough it out, running whenever they can muster the strength and walking the rest of the way, all the while pushing past their intense discomfort.


That film usually ends with the runner staggering across the line.


Whichever way it ends, the lesson is the same. Regardless of the outcome, they sum it up in some variation of the same phrase: "I just kept moving.”


Thinking back on my second cancer treatment, healing came through goals (as told in the Proof of Life documentary). Sometimes I didn’t meet those goals, but they always served their purpose: they kept me moving.


Rebuilding my life after a traumatic brain injury this past summer has been the ultimate test. There have been more mental and physical challenges and more disturbing memories and false memories – more trauma on all levels – than anything so far.


Improvement has sometimes come in dramatic surges. More often, there have been long weeks filled with mornings when my body seems to be just as weak as it was the day before, and my head is still just not right.


It's encouraging to know I'm not alone in this.


In The Resilience Breakthrough, Christian Moore says, "Doing anything, even something small and or seemingly futile, helps me remain in control and more resilient." (p 176).


What has gotten me through physically are the friends and family who remind me to have faith in incremental change. Life gets continually better if we I just keep taking tiny step after tiny step.


Getting a hold on my emotional and mental health has been a similar process. Only instead of learning a few more exercises or taking on a new household chore, it’s been taking encouragement from wherever it comes.


I've been eating at a resilience buffet: a podcast here, an online talk there; reading a book or an article, writing an article, taking Sunday walks or day trips with my wife, hanging out with my running club after their runs. Lately, going on hikes. Whatever is in front of me and looks helpful and whatever I can handle that day.


Just Keep Moving. It isn’t the only key to resilience but it underlies everything.


Because when you lose confidence, you stop moving.


When you lose hope, you stop moving.


When you’re exhausted beyond all measure, you can't help but stop moving.