The body has a miraculous way of providing protection against the friction it encounters. The callus. A callus is a thickening of the skin from repeated bouts of friction or pressure. It provides a barrier of protection against the threat that is routinely there.
A runner will often develop calluses on their feet. An extra barrier against the friction of the shoe as it strikes the hard ground over and over again. A weight lifter or carpenter will develop them on their hands from the friction of the bar or the tool. Every rep an irritation and trigger for the body to send a response and it lays on more skin as a result.
A callus must form from consistent effort in the correct dose. To few effort and a callus won't form. The stimulus isn't consistent enough. Why put energy into creating a protective barrier if the insult doesn't come along enough. On the other hand, if the insult comes with to much intensity, you don't get a callus, you get a blister.
A callus is a clue. Where has the friction been coming from. Certain coaches and therapists will tell you that looking at a callus in the wrong place may be a clue that biomechanically there is an issue. A seasoned runner that develops a new callus creates a cause for inspection.
Why has this new friction been accumulating?
Callusing can also happen in other areas of our life. It struck me this week as I watched a sprinter win the 100m World Championships in 9.76 seconds. It made the SportsCenter number 7 play. 9.76 seconds! Only 5 other men in the history of the planet have run as fast or faster...ever. A home run was like number one. Perhaps it was because there was some controversy over some missed drug testing. I would say we are callus to that as well. No longer shocked when an athletic great tests positive.
One of the great things about kids is that they haven't been callused to the wonders of nature. I don't know how many times I'm made aware of the "awesomeness" of an insect or the "prettyness" of a flower.
I can remember talking to a friend when we heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook. It was a blister moment etched in my mind. Sadly, I think with the news media/social media, frequency of horror, shooting are becoming less blister, more callus.
David Goggins has a saying callus your mind. At least that is where I first heard it. Simply means when your doing something that is hard and the voice in your mind is screaming quit, don't. Kill that voice. Callus your mind. The brain is all about conservation of self. It lies essentially to get you to slow down, reduce effort, stop. The body can go longer, harder, if you don't let your mind stop you. Callus it.
We need friction in life if we are ever going to do anything worthwhile. Friction provides the resistance to get stronger. It gives us the irritant to produce the callus if we put in the consistent work. Callus allow us to do more work comfortably, it is a buffer. Buffers for the most part are good. The key is allow the things that should sting us, blister us, continue too. To not let the things that should make us take action and eliminate that friction from becoming a callus.
Honor the blister, work for the callus. Be mindful of both. They both have their correct place. Choose wisely.