The Recoil

You know how when you stretch things that are stretchy, they usually bounce back to their original shape after being released? A hair tie, your muscles, leggings — the nature of stretch is the bounciness. Most things, with continued stretching, will finally relax into the stretched position, but it’s not a one-and-done thing. You stretch something, and then there’s the recoil, and then you stretch it again, and there’s another — usually smaller but still — recoil.

I wonder if the same thing happens in growth, when we stretch our selves. When we take the action of going outside our comfort zones, the equal and opposite reaction can be a very severe recoil — wanting to bury ourselves back in what’s familiar, what’s known, to hide back in the shell. But I guess in that sense the recoil then is just another indication that you did it, you grew. And the key perhaps is to understand that a) just because you’ve recoiled does not mean you’ve regressed and b) though there was a recoil, you now have space in yourself where you didn’t before. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it. Maybe stretching in the same way, physically or figuratively, doesn’t feel any easier for a long while. But soon you’ll see yourself start to relax into the new shape, all you have to do is keep stretching. In order to lengthen, in order to grow, we have to stretch, recognize and acknowledge the recoil when it happens, and stretch again. Soon the recoils will be less jarring, we’ll have new space to stretch into, and when we find ourselves again in a position to grow, we’ll be reminded of and better prepared for the recoil.