Friday, May 14, 2010

Riddle of the Sphinx

I am a fan of riddles. I remember being a young child and being asked a riddle that went something like this:

In Greek mythology, the Sphinx sat outside of Thebes and asked this riddle of all travelers who passed by. If the traveler failed to solve the riddle, then the Sphinx killed him/her. And if the traveler answered the riddle correctly, then the Sphinx would destroy herself. The riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening? Oedipus solved the riddle, and the Sphinx destroyed herself.

When I first heard this riddle I had no clue what the answer was, but as time went on the answer eventually became clear: human beings.

If you think about it we walk on four legs in our early childhood (the morning). As we grow older we have the strength to walk on two legs (the afternoon). Finally, in our old age some people are forced to walk with the assistance of a cane, which the riddle describes as a third leg.

A year ago today I was in a very dark place. I had strained my MCL in a soccer tournament in late February and two months later I was still having a hard time walking, bending and sitting. In August I was hoping to attend training camp for my school’s soccer team and this injury was beginning to make me worry.

After three months of rest and three weeks of physiotherapy I was finally able to start running again and I began my training to return to the field. The stage was set for my own personal version of the Rocky movies as I began working toward being ready for the upcoming season. Fortunately for me I had my good friend Odean working with me the whole way.

Let me tell you something about Odean – the guy is a physical BEHEMOTH! I struggle to do large sets of push-ups and Odean does upside down push-ups. I would often find myself saying, “Man, I can’t do that.” To which he would reply, “well, you gotta crawl before you walk and you gotta walk before you run.”

Odean could not have been more right. In due time I was running faster, longer, up hills, down hills, lunging, doing push-ups, sit-ups and by the end of it all I was in good form going into training camp.

Like the riddle, like my recovery from injury and like anything new in life we begin at the bottom in our best crawl position. Over time we slowly get better and with enough practice we eventually become really good at it. It makes the end reward sweeter when you reflect on the path you traveled.

When something new has you down just remember that there is a natural order in life. You have to keep telling yourself – Crawl before you walk and walk before you run.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes in life we find ourselves crawling, walking, and running all at the same time. Much like our last year at school. The strange thing is when I started school in August I was crawling, I then found myself walking, and near the end I was running, not the ugly run where your body is moving faster than your feet, but with nice long confident strides. Now I find myself settling into a life I put on hold 9 months ago and sometimes I find myself walking comfortably, other times running as I alway have, and sometimes I have had to start with crawling even though a year ago I was in a full on jog.


Anonymous said...

Great post Sean!
Definitely need to remind myself of this as my patience doesn't always tolerate crawling or even walking, however, like you state in your post, sometimes the most rewarding part is looking back and realizing how you got to where you are now.