Amor Fati: Even When You Fracture Your Coccyx

October 31, 2017

Categories: Stoicism

Amor Fati means love of fate. How can we not just accept our circumstances, but actually love them? You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you respond to it. You can choose to find the opportunity in your obstacle.

Many times this process of Amor Fati feels counterintuitive, or even impossible. You don’t know my circumstances, you might say. How can anything good ever come from THIS?

Struggling with Amor Fati

Just to be real with you, I struggle with Amor Fati as well. Let me share an example from my own life. This past week, I was experiencing a lot of pain in my tailbone. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it wasn’t getting better on its own. Finally, I went to the emergency room. I got X-rays and was diagnosed with a coccyx fracture. In other words, I broke my butt.

There’s not really a good treatment for a coccyx fracture. They just tell you to rest, and give you medicine to manage the pain. It’s uncomfortable, and I’m having trouble sleeping. I carry around a little yellow donut pillow to sit on wherever I go. I’m out of CrossFit for at least a month.

What good could possibly come from that?

3 Responses to Obstacles

Here’s the thing: the coccyx fracture happened. I can’t change anything about that. Do I wish it didn’t happen? Sure, but I can’t change the past. The coccyx fracture is my reality. I can respond in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Get angry, stomp my feet, and cry. Full disclosure—I did some of this already. It’s okay to feel bad when something happens that I didn’t want, but am I going to do this for the next 6 weeks?
  2. Suffer silently with grim acceptance. This might be better than yelling and screaming for 6 weeks, but it’s depressing to think that I will be unhappy for 6 weeks.
  3. Amor Fati. Move forward and actually feel gratitude for the broken butt. Be curious and think about where the opportunity could be in my obstacle. What could I learn from this situation? How could I take what happened to me and turn it around for good?

Amor Fati in Practice

I’m still in process around that. But here are some initial thoughts, so you can get a sense of what Amor Fati might look like in practice:

  1. Forced rest and relaxation. Often I live my life on overdrive. I’m always working, always moving, always doing something. My wife says I’m not good at rest. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to enter into a season of rest, and learn to do that better.
  2. More time to think, read, and write. Because I can’t exercise or do much physical activity, I have more time and energy on my hands. I might have more time during this season to think, read, and write. I’m working on a book—maybe I could really crank out good some content during this season.
  3. Recover from shoulder injury. I’ve been struggling with a nagging shoulder injury for a few months. The problem is that I still do some exercises (e.g., pullups) that continue to aggravate it, so it hasn’t made a full recovery yet. Maybe this could be a chance to rest my shoulder as well, and let it fully heal.
  4. Break my addiction to working out. I struggle with being addicted to working out. I sometimes get frustrated or upset if I miss a workout. This is related to my past—I was overweight as a kid and experienced a lot of pain around that. So when I learned I could work out and change my body, working out became really important to me. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to revisit those issues and find a better balance.
  5. Am I still okay even if I’m not in shape and strong? I put a lot of my self-worth in being in shape, strong, and athletic. In this next season, I’m going to have to take a break from some of that. What feelings are going to come up for me when that happens? What could I learn about myself through that process? Could I find my value in other parts of my life, which might help me in the long run?
  6. Could discover something different in my life (e.g., long walks, slow down, etc.). I went for a long walk the other day and listened to a podcast. I’m having to change some of my routines. Might there be something new for me in that? Could I benefit from taking walks and slowing down?
  7. Improve gratitude for the health I do have. In the midst of this painful experience, I have found myself experiencing higher levels of gratitude for the health that I do have. I’m noticing that things I took for granted before (e.g., being able to sleep through the night, sit down without pain) are a HUGE deal.
  8. Increase compassion for others who are struggling with injuries. I have found myself experiencing higher levels of compassion for others who are struggling with injuries and chronic pain. It’s tough to be in pain. It affects other aspects of your life. Moving forward, I’m going to have a bigger heart for people in pain as a result of this experience.
  9. Improve fortitude and resilience. When you go through tough circumstances, it strengthens your “muscle” for dealing with the ups and downs of life. In general, I have lived a pretty comfortable life. Because of that, sometimes I struggle when things don’t go my way. This experience might improve my level of fortitude and resilience for dealing with difficult challenges.

Am I glad I fractured my coccyx? No, not really. But it happened, and there is nothing I can do to change that reality. But how I react is up to me. I can either complain, moan, and be depressed for 6 weeks, or I can suck the marrow out of life and make the best of it.

Amor fati.

Photo credit: Click here to get your own Amor Fati medallion.


Related Thoughts

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  1. Ann Lindberg November 1, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Moderation is good. Not as much fun as over-doing it, but still, whatever you can do is a blessing. At this age, your health ailment is only temporary, but as you get older, for one reason or another, some things have to be given up and mourned. For me so far it has been, kickboxing, karate, fast rollerblading, long bicycle rides, heavy landscaping and anything too hard on my joints. Sometimes I still overdo and know I will be in pain for a few days. Maybe use your time to reflect on the adventuresome memories you already have?

  2. […] dealing with things like losing a job, going through a divorce, or cancer. I know for me this year, I have been struggling to recover from a broken tailbone. It’s difficult to feel thankful when I’m uncomfortable and in […]

  3. Marina November 30, 2017 at 10:12 pm - Reply


    It’s such a relieve to learn that I’m not alone. Somehow I relate to your post as I just had a broken tailbone, and torn pectoralis major prior to that.

    May I know how do you manage the recovery process? I mean is there any activity that you do to ensure the tailbone will be functioned just like prior the injury?

  4. Joshua Hook December 1, 2017 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Sorry you’re having to deal with that injury Marina. It isn’t any fun! I’m going to be honest with you–I’m still in the recovery process. I’ve seen some improvement, but it isn’t better yet. The things that have helped me are resting, sitting on one of those yellow donut pillows, sitting forward (rather than leaning back), to take pressure off the tailbone, and spending more time standing (vs. sitting). Good luck! Thoughts and prayers for a quick and full recovery.

  5. […] or even throw in the towel and quit. Recently, one of the tough things I have been dealing with is recovering from a broken tailbone. The recovery has been painful and uncomfortable. It isn’t healing as fast as I hoped it would, […]

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    […] example: Over the last several months, I’ve been dealing with an injury that has been frustrating for me. I’ve been in quite a bit of pain, and I haven’t been able to […]

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  10. […] been pretty lucky in my life, but I’m not immune to trouble. For example, in the past year, I struggled to recover from a broken tailbone. My uncle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and died four months later. I’m sure […]

  11. […] Got injured? Good. You probably needed a break from training. […]

  12. […] I’m struggling in my relationship with God, and need a break from church stuff. Last year I got injured and couldn’t do much physical activity. […]

  13. […] there’s a good chance your state will be positive. If you’re sick, tired, hungover, or injured, however, your state will trend […]

  14. […] here is to believe that everything happens for you rather than to you. Successful people find the benefit in even the most difficult of circumstances. There is always a lesson, or something you can take from anything that happens to you, that can […]

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