Someone I met two days ago and instantly took a liking to told me this, "It is all in the mind, you should decide to challenge yourself and push your limits." The mind's limits, my body's limits. I have heard it said before, by others, in other contexts. In some 15 years of practicing Yoga, on and off, in over a decade of climbing hills and mountains, now and then, these words are what draw me, like the translucent wings of the dragonfly burning at the edges of a yellow flame. It burns, it hurts till you want to cry, yet that pain is beautiful. It is the pain of your body pushing itself, of the mind winning. Science has an answer to why humans punish their bodies thus, something about that attractive thing called adrenaline. But I prefer a prosaic answer. I prefer to see it as something essential for the soul.
This Tuesday morning, when I was trying to stay on my feet and kick up in the air, higher and higher, I wasn't thinking of limits or anything at all. I was just kicking, in front, to the sides, in a circle. It is only an hour and a half later when I hobble down three floors that I attempt to wonder why I do this to myself. I don't feel my legs anymore, my stomach feels like...oh the words don't take shape, it all hurts so much. Later in the day, even my neck will start hurting, every muscle, every nerve will. I will ask myself why I do this, but I will not wait for an answer.
The pain is mighty addictive. I know I do this because despite all the pain, there is the joy of looking down the mountain you have just climbed. The view is fabulous, the air fresh and the soul is alive and smiling. That is why I do this. After the first class of Kalaripayattu this Tuesday morning, even my brain hurts to think and form better words here, but my soul and I, we are smiling wide. That is why I do it.