Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Overcoming Difficulties

Posted on | June 14, 2010 | No Comments

One of the undeniable benefits of sport, whatever sport, is the learning of mechanisms through which we can surpass ourselves and overcome pain, as I am pathetically reminded every time I go running outside.

Thus anyone who has done a bit of jogging will be familiar with the pain that shoots up your calves after a certain distance, the more so if it has been a while since you’ve last exercised your legs. However, as we soon learn, this pain is perfectly manageable. In fact when you force yourself to carry on and on, the pain does not cease entirely but disappears from consciousness’ radar. It remains, muted, in a corner of our mind, allowing us to keep going without further hindrance. It is almost an ecstatic state of mind, probably caused by endorphins, which would also explain the euphoric feeling we experience when we finally return back home to rest for some time.

To get there it is necessary to persevere in spite of the pain, to keep going, to be confident that we will reach our goal. This state of mind is not restricted to jogging, far from it. Any exhausting activity will lead you to it. Team sports can also yield similar results. Thus, hockey or football both lead us to receive sometimes violent tackles and hits; we go through them to further our cause, for the good of the team, because we are confident in our teammate’s ability to finish the play we have started.

This physical pain, almost tangible, is socially acceptable. It allows us to get somewhat tougher, it equips ourselves against other kinds of shock for which direct training would be morally unacceptable. Psychological violence and distress, grief, are examples of pain which we may live through in due time. I do not know what context would ethically allow us to prepare against them. Therein lies the importance of developing otherwise pain-resistance mechanisms, in the hope that they will kick in efficiently should they ever become necessary.

I would claim, without proof however, that the earlier we learn these lessons, the more efficiently we will weave them into our lives. This makes the practice of physical activity from an early age very important, not to mention of course the other health benefits it brings about.


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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