I once wrote a list of 100 things about me. I looked at it the other day and saw this: "I have never been able to do a regular push-up." By regular I meant an on-the-toes, heeyah!, kind of push up, as opposed to an on-the-knees, whimpy one.
Well, never is no more. I can do one now.
It happened this way. About two and a half years ago I started attending a boot camp-style exercise class at a nearby church building. The instructor had us running and lifting weights and lunging and yes, doing push ups, and I hated it. I'd be so sore the next day, I could barely stoop down to move the laundry from washer to dryer. And shall we talk about trying to get up from the toilet? No, we won't.
But, hey, I'm all about free exercise, and it was a change of pace from walking every day, so I continued to go, even though I often dreaded it. Especially the push ups part.
The instructor told us we could do them from our knees. Then she encouraged us to try "just one" on our toes. We could drop to our knees after that if we had to.
I'm a law abiding person. If someone tells me to do something, I'll do my utmost to comply. So for a few weeks, I creaked out one push up on my toes before dropping to my knees. Then I got up to two. Then five. Then finally, all ten.
She kept adding more push ups to the routine, spacing them out throughout the hour-long class. One day she had us do something called a pyramid, starting with one, then building up to ten, then back down again. It was only ten at a time, I could do that.
At the end of the hour, I realized I'd done 100 push ups. All of them on my toes. Not once had I dropped to whimpy formation. Exultation.
Two and a half years later I look at myself in the mirror (yes, I admit it, I have flexed in front of the mirror) and I see muscles on my shoulders and arms that were never there before. Never.
Where did those come from?
Could it be that they were there all the time, just needing some encouragement in order to show themselves?
It makes me wonder how many other hidden muscles I have. What else is lying dormant, just waiting for a little encouragement from me to show itself?
I also wonder how many times I've said, "this is me, this is who I am," when in reality some effort could change that part of me.
Thinking of it makes me want to experiment, try something new, something hard, something scary, something I might hate at first, dread even, just to see what will happen--what new muscles I can grow.