It seems that physical and mental endurance are on sliding scales that vary in contrasting ways as we age. I reflected upon this question while shoveling some snow off of the driveway.
When I was much younger, snow scooping tasks were physically easier but I was impatient and wanted to complete the chore as swiftly as possible. Now that I’m older, I’m mindful of the necessity to be careful about the physical act of clearing snow because of my aging body. However, I’m more mentally patient about the chore–sometimes, the task even seems somewhat enjoyable.
I wonder when the two sliding scales intersected. When was my physical strength equal to my positive mental attitude about scooping snow? I can’t say for sure, because I hadn’t given the question any thought until recent years. I can approximate the time-frame to be sometime during my mid-40s for the scooping chore. All things considered, it seems that over-all endurance was lacking in my teens and twenties, but started to develop as I aged. My muscles are almost as strong, and my mind is more discerning.
Measuring endurance must take into account the work one must undertake. Is it a novel task or is it a routine chore? What is the supposed benefit of completing the work?
I used to dread phys. ed. during my school years. If it had been possible, I would have sold my soul to completely avoid P.E. classes altogether. The last mandatory phys. ed. class coincided with my college freshman year. I was ecstatic to have the requirement out of the way.
The opposite attitude happened a couple of decades later. I joined a gym and began daily workouts. Physical exercise had become fun. It probably helped that the social aspect of belonging to the gym was positive. It’s amazing how gym buddies can boost one’s attitude. My physical and mental endurance regarding disciplined exercise, reached new highs during my late 40s and early 50s. Endurance settled into equilibrium afterwards.
Lately, my long-held personal efforts to help improve civil rights, equal rights, inclusion, and fairness have come under fire by my less than progressive family members and acquaintances. They have begun to accuse me of being a “social justice warrior”. Such mockery has not deterred my long-held desire and love for justice in the world.
I remember when being called a social justice warrior was a compliment, not an insult. I do not understand why some people think that social justice is a bad thing. In my opinion, injustice is what should be discouraged. Why must some people promote injustice? Regardless of their strident, cutting use of the term “social justice warrior” as an insult, I take their disdain as a challenge to double-down on my efforts. The insults only serve to strengthen my resolve. The put-downs only encourage further personal endurance regarding progress across social barriers.
I believe that one reason we test our physical and mental endurance is because we are curious about the limits of our bodies and minds. While superficially, we may claim it’s about competitiveness, I think we push ourselves to endure because we want to better understand our physical and mental potentials. What are our physical and mental frontiers?
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 19th century essayist, mathematician, historian, philosopher, translator, and teacher, Thomas Carlyle. “Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance–the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it; better, will preserve it longer, than the sad or sullen.”