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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. Conversio is my current gig (previously co-founded WooThemes.).

The unknowns that weigh us down

"Not many people like to admit that, but everyone is always in the process of becoming something else. No one is ever really finished—constructed and complete."

- Alicia Cook (Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately)

Three weeks ago, I had ankle surgery to re-attach lateral ligaments that had been gone for about 15 months.

During this time, I kept running and exercising in general, because I need to physically exert myself to help keep body-mind-heart aligned. (My doc gave me the thumbs-up to continue after initial scans; I wasn't being ignorant or stupid. Promise. 😝)

The problem was that my ankle didn't get better and I experienced constant discomfort after exercise. It also started slowing me down more and more, until I finally stopped running about 4 months ago.

I picked up cycling as a replacement, but it just wanted the same. There's something about feet on a pavement that connects me to the universe, whereas on a bicycle, there is a mechanical component between the universe and me.

So I eventually had more scans, saw loads of doctors, eventually picked one and then had to wait about 7 weeks before I could get a surgery date.


Fast-forward to the day of surgery.

I hate hospitals. Whether I'm there for myself or for someone else, I'm always super-anxious.

But this day was different.

Nothing worked according to plan... 4am wake-up. My ride was late, so I arrived late. When I got to the hospital, they didn't have a bed for me. I eventually ended up in the Maternity Ward. And my surgery got delayed by about 3 hours.

All of this is normally things that would fire every single anxious neuron in my body.

But it didn't. I was okay. In fact, I was really content and almost happy. (This was way before they gave me any meds too.)

Surgery went well and without any complications.

As I woke up afterwards, I again felt this happiness wash over me. And again, it wasn't the drugs, since they had used a local anesthetic nerve block in my ankle. So no morphine or some of the other good stuff.


I lay there - light happy and content - when I realised that I must've totally underestimated just how much my borked ankle had weighed me down. Literally.

In the weeks preceding the surgery, I started feeling the strain in the rest of my body from all of the subconscious over-compensation to protect my ankle. This became more uncomfortable physically, but this was only a lagging indicator of all the over-compensation I was doing elsewhere in my life.

I hadn't felt like me for months. I couldn't run (which is a great part of me) and could only exercise well below my normal levels. Feeling physical weak meant that I wasn't feeling super in my heart or mind either. Not necessarily depressed, but not me. Not the way that I would feel on a normal day.

As I sit here in my bed writing this, ankle elevated, one day post-surgery, my ankle is obviously not yet fixed. There is pain. I'm still on crutches for six weeks and then have intensive rehab thereafter. It'll be 12+ weeks before I can run at all again.

Yet, I'm happy. I'm relieved and feeling light, because this unknown weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

A weight that didn't make me feel like me.

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If I had to label my relationship status with my ambition on Facebook, it would read "It is complicated".⠀ ⠀ What I've learnt is that ambition and forward movement is such a huge part of who I am. It's a force within me that can't be subdued or ignored. I've tried that and it always finds another way to manifest itself and influence my daily thoughts, emotions and actions.⠀ ⠀ This isn't always easy. It's made it hard for me to be content sometimes. Other times I'm very hard on myself when I can't exact the change I'm hoping to make. And sometimes I just wish I wasn't ambitious at all, because I'd just like a break. I mean - can I just have a hobby without this innate desire to measure myself or get better at it? Just fun? Maybe?⠀ ⠀ Here's the thing though... Whether it's ambition or something else, there are some things that are just a very significant and immovable part of who we already are. Often accepting that is the first step in nurturing and even "managing" it.⠀ ⠀ Thereafter it is all about movement. Keep moving towards the things that are great and the things that are tough. Sometimes the same thing - like ambition - is both great and superbly tough. Movement ensures evolution though, because everything is ultimately impermanent.

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