?

Log in

Interesting thoughts on word choices... - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Interesting thoughts on word choices... [Jan. 22nd, 2013|11:46 am]
John
There's a word that reverberates in my head sometimes - "strong".

One of the reasons I find it intriguing is that it pops up in Anime, sometimes referencing something that doesn't mean "able to apply a lot of brute force". "He's a really strong martial artist" for a guy who doesn't split boulders - but is wise and knowledgeable and skilled. (This in an anime where people *do* split boulders... hence the allusion.)

It's also a word that gets used for a lot of people who bear up under a lot of crap. And it's sometimes a painful word - IIRC, a friend of mine once reported an ex- saying that he treated her badly at a certain time because she was strong, and could take it.

Sometimes people who are suffering are told they are "strong" when they feel weak, and they hate it because everything is telling them that they're not.

And me? I've been finding myself angry about the word, because I'm fighting harder and harder for fitness, but I still have physical issues after a heavy workout.

After a year and a half of pushing myself, I can run 30 minutes at a 9 minute mile pace - and that, only because I have a treadmill that forces me to keep the pace up. I don't think I could do it running around a track; I think I'd unconsciously slow down to a more comfortable pace.

And yet, in spite of the difficulties and frustrations, I've managed to go 387 days in a row without skipping a workout. Sometimes it was only 25 minutes of walking, but even when I was sick, I worked out. (Admittedly, I've only had colds or the equivalent, so far.)

Two days ago, I tried running for 35 minutes at a bit over a ten-minute mile pace (6.1mph). It was easy - as easy as 5 miles an hour used to be. So that's good. But I had some tiredness problems afterward. I sure didn't feel strong.

And that's when I realized there was another word that described what I did feel.

I felt tough. (If this was written by Stephen R. Donaldson, I'd feel "an annealment precipitated by a confluence of mental and spiritual inanation".)

I didn't feel strong - a strong person would have done that workout easily, and then been ready to go dancing. But me? I knew that workout might ruin my night... but I needed the workout, and I needed to know how it would affect me, so I did it, knowing I wouldn't be dancing, but willing to suffer through that.

Just as I'm willing to suffer through day after day of exhaustion when I need to.

Just as I'm willing to struggle through depression, and never stop remembering that I deserve, and need, better.

Just as I'm willing to bear up under significant mental, emotional, and physical pain when necessary.

An expression I like to ponder is that "you never know how strong a person truly is until that person is free of their heaviest burdens." A person might be truly mighty - but carrying so much that they appear weak.

One of the burdens I find I was carrying was a need to be "strong" and a frustration that I wasn't. And I can set that down, because I have another word that better describes what I am, and better describes my day to day victories. I may not feel strong when I make it through the day, feeling battered, but I can accept that I was tough enough to make it through.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: wcg
2013-01-22 08:14 pm (UTC)
You're doing damn well, John. Call it whatever you want. I'd call it durable.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: acelightning
2013-01-23 06:48 am (UTC)
We are all stronger than we ever wanted to have to be...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bkwrrm_tx
2013-01-23 05:15 pm (UTC)
I *hated* being called strong during all of Shay's treatments and such. No. I wasn't strong. I just did what I had to do, and got through it. That word still makes my back hairs prickle.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ysabetwordsmith
2013-02-16 12:50 am (UTC)

Thoughts

>>Sometimes people who are suffering are told they are "strong" when they feel weak, and they hate it because everything is telling them that they're not.<<

When I say "strong" in reference to my friends who have been run over by life, I mean: I'm impressed and pleased that you came through that and are still alive and kicking, because what you went through has killed other people. The fact that you survived indicates that you are strong.

Which doesn't always make it a safe thing to say, for reasons you elaborate, so I try to be careful with it. A lot of times I pare down to "I'm glad you're still with us."

I'm disappointed that life has broken enough people I care about for me to have developed a routine for this.

And that's when I realized there was another word that described what I did feel.

>>I felt tough.<<

That's a good one too.

In various contexts I've also used durable, resilient, survivor, and "takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

>>An expression I like to ponder is that "you never know how strong a person truly is until that person is free of their heaviest burdens." A person might be truly mighty - but carrying so much that they appear weak.<<

Oh so very true.
(Reply) (Thread)