I started to cry as we left the movie theater after seeing The Great Gatsby on Mother's Day. And not because (spoiler alert) I had just watched Leo die an untimely and tragic death yet again. I was crying because, after sitting still for two hours, my knee had stiffened up and as we left the theater I could barely walk. By the time we got to the car I was in tears. And not because I was in pain. I could handle that. I was crying because I feared I would never run again. And that thought made me cry, as odd as that may sound.
The pain in my knee had started a while back; I don't even remember when. But it had been going on for a good bit of time, and was getting increasingly worse. Instead of being isolated to when I was running, it was starting to bleed into other areas, like walking. Or sleeping. And I was getting worried. As in, I might have to break down and go to a doctor worried. And when I could barely walk from the theater to the car, I knew the time had come to cry uncle. To stop running. Curt and I got in the car and he listened as I blubbered on about how unfair this was and how I just wanted to be able to run and was that so much to ask and why did my body have to rebel against me like this? And Curt, with a very cautious and concerned look on his face made gentle suggestions about buying me a proper knee brace and maybe-- just maybe-- a doctor could help and then he murmured apologies for my pregnancies, my age, and the fact that I have to exercise at all. I eventually stopped crying and then we went to Barnes and Noble and I hobbled around and tried to get lost in all those books.
A few days later Curt saw my running shoes, lying forlorn and forgotten in the place I had kicked them off, and reached for them. He turned them over and examined the sole of the shoes. And then he gasped. And then he shook his head and started laughing. He carried the shoe over to me and thrust it under my nose. "This is your problem," he said. "Look at that sole."
So I looked and saw what he had discovered. There was a considerable part of the sole that had been rubbed away over time. It's hard to describe but there was actually a whole side of the heel basically missing. At an angle. It looked like someone had taken a knife and simply cut it away. "Don't you realize what this is doing when you land every time?" he asked, incredulous. Then he took the shoe out from under my nose and stared at it some more. "I bet no one in the history of running has ever done this to their shoe and then kept running on it. When was the last time you replaced your shoes? Don't you know you're supposed to every six months?"
I scanned my memory of the last time I'd bought running shoes. I couldn't recall the specific date but it seemed very recent. "You were with me," I said. "Remember? We were on a date and I said I wanted you to go with me to help pick them out?"
He shook his head. "I think that was a while ago."
"Nah. It was recent. I remember it very clearly."
He smirked at me in that way he has that says he knows he's right but doesn't feel like arguing about it anymore. "Well no matter when it was these shoes have to be replaced. I bet if you get some good shoes your knees will get better."
Could it be that simple? I marveled at the thought. My spirits lifted. I went to the New Balance store near our house asap and told the guy all about my situation and he helped me pick out appropriate shoes for people who are prone to run so oddly that they wear away whole sides of their heels. At a sharp angle.
When I was checking out, I said, "Hey, do you happen to have the date of my last purchase on that handy dandy computer?"
He looked and said, "Sure. It was September. Of 2010."
I really seriously debated not telling Curt about that part. But then I did and we had a good laugh about how time really does fly and perhaps I need some sort of alert on my phone so I'd know just how fast time had gone by and it was time to buy new running shoes lest I inadvertently cripple myself again.
But that's not what this post is about.
It's about how I was doing everything I could to remedy my knee issue. Going to Curt. Considering a visit to a doctor. Resting. Reading up about running related knee injuries on the internet. Crying. Complaining to friends. But I never once considered that the problem was my sole.
For days after I thought about this. How that's so like life. When things go wrong I look everywhere except where the real problem lies. I avoid digging deep enough to discover where the real problem is. I think about physical issues (sleep, diet, exertion, etc.) and weather and friends and money and home and family and demands and responsibilities and outside forces. But I forget about my soul. What's at the heart of my suffering? Do I dare to look? What if the solution is to check my soul?
So that's my new motto when something is bothering me and I can't get to the solution: Check your soul.
Irritation with your kids? Check your soul.
Stress over money issues? Check your soul.
A little too short tempered? Check your soul.
Feeling unnecessarily stressed? Check your soul.
Unable to determine the source of the pain? Check your soul.
The solution might be right in front of you, but it'll take flipping it upside down to discover. When life weighs on me I'll get out my Bible and pray and journal through all the stuff that's in the way until I've successfully gotten to soul level-- the place where I discover the source of my pain. And as I go on a run today, I'll be thinking about how glad I am that Curt thought to check my sole. And I'll remember the lesson I learned because of it, one I intend to apply more often than every six months.