I love words-- especially great sounding words that I can casually slip into conversation so that it sounds like I know something. Like catabolism for instance. I feel smarter just for having said it. The first time I heard this word was a few weeks ago when He-who-trains described my new workout plan that involved running between every. single. exercise. My workout partner has been running all her life, so she digs it. Me? Well I've only really dreamt about running, which does not seem to have prepared my body for actually running. The idea behind this super "fun" workout is catabolism, which is, technically speaking, "the breaking down in the body of complex chemical compounds into simpler ones." In my case, it means breaking down my muscles. It sounds weird and counterintuitive, but there's a good reason for it. (And for the record, it's working. 1.5 inches lost off each calf muscle-- which is more than I've lost during the entire time I've been training. Hellooooo, fall boots!)
What I learned as I was researching this death-by-running-the-building plan was that there is another process that does the exact opposite, called anabolism. It's basically the building up of things.
I like the idea of the latter -bolism a lot more. Who doesn't? It seems a lot more useful to build things up than to tear them down. The problem is that, lately, I'm experiencing what feels like a lot of breaking down of things-- some things more precious than muscles. The nature of those things is a subject for another day. The wounds are too fresh, the fog still feels too foggy. But I've been in a hard place.
I've always loved the verse in Ecclesiastes that says "To everything there is a season" (Turn, turn, turn?) A season for building up, and a season for tearing down. It seems like one thing happens, then the other thing happens. But what I love more than that idea is how the body deals with those things. Both the tearing down of things and the building up of other things happen at the same time, all the time. Maybe what I love about that is the realization that even as some precious things are in the process of breaking down, in the very same life, something else that is just as precious, just as necessary to vitality, is being built up.
Catabolism, as I learned (am learning) the hard way is physically painful. And metaphorical catabolism is no less painful. But the promise of seeing the beautiful thing emerge makes it tolerable.