February 2021

Have you heard about throwing a frog into boiling water?

The story goes that the frog will immediately jump out of a boiling pot, but if you put it into cool water and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t notice and will boil to death.

That was me and my aching back.

Having had degenerative discs for over 20 years, I’m used to my back hurting. I can barely remember a day when it didn’t hurt. In fact, I have had three ablations, numerous epidurals, and daily stretching and strengthening to keep it in check.

Lately, when the proverbial heat got turned up and the pain got worse, I chalked it up to a preexisting condition, aging, and the stress of the moment.

I accepted increasing pain as something I just had to live with.

But after about six weeks of sciatic agony that reverberated down to my calves, I realized I was nearly at my own boiling point.

I had expected the MRI to show degeneration and stenosis. It did. But I hadn’t expected the MD to find a cyst filling with fluid and literally butting up against my spinal column and nerves. That explained the dramatic increase in pain.

Two days later, that cyst was drained.

When I woke up the morning after the procedure, I could have sworn I’d dropped 20 pounds or suddenly developed the ability to fly. I felt light and agile. I could breathe fully. I could walk or even jump around the room. And I did! It was a Benjamin Button moment.

But, these moments of relief are not ends in themselves. They are moments for context and new beginnings.

They mark the time for us to open doors to move forward again. They are moments to remind us about our greatest potential when we are operating at full steam.
Of course, in my rejuvenated state, I went out the next day and played better golf than I’ve played in years.

But, as you might guess, I’m not really talking about my back pain.

* * *

While watching the inauguration this week, I sensed a similar sense of relief and movement – but this time on a national level. I felt physically able to breathe again and was energized by the lessening of the pain that many of us have been feeling about our country’s internal strife and discord.

For me, the inauguration felt like a weight had been lifted and that we had regained a communal sense of pride. I sensed renewed energy, hope and potential to be reunited.

I realized that over the past few months, we had all become frogs in danger of being slowly cooked together.

These moments of context are windows to jump out of the pot and to make leaps beyond the boundaries established by yesterday’s suffering.

Yes. My back is still “disintegrating.” That hasn’t changed.

Yes. As a nation, we are still wounded, and those wounds will take some time to heal.

But the pain which felt ever-present over the past few months has been reduced a bit – just in these first few days. Many of us can now see the potential for a future that we had feared could never be reclaimed.

It feels like a moment to take great frog-leaps forward.

We’ll do it by using this renewed sense of possibility to treasure the moments of light, to take advantage of countless opportunities for connection, and to unleash the potential in each of us to change the things we care about most.

If we are all watching out for each other when moments of pain creep back in, we will know the warning signs, and be able to nurse the wounds for each other, and turn down the heat together.

We are our sister’s keeper.

In the wise words of Amanda Gorman:

There is always light,
If only we are willing to see it.
If only we are brave enough to be it.

* * *

How will you channel this new chapter?

Share it Small: Make a pledge to yourself to initiate good. Pledges and commitments keep us self-aware and checked-in. They are a perfect reminder of our personal commitment and our broad-reaching connection, and the potential of what each of us can accomplish when we focus on it.

Share it Big: Commit to making progress on a more public platform. Lead by example and tell people why you are doing it. Shut down divisiveness by giving it no place in your life. Help heal old wounds by taking responsibility for your piece. Speak up for people you don’t totally agree with and find common ground. Each step we take is one step closer to each other, and often the steps we take are replicated by those who are watching.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a break-through, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.