There’s not a lot I feel very effective at in my life at this point. There just really isn’t. I’m the holder of a masters I don’t use, which is about as useful as the paper it’s printed on, which I lost during one of the multiple moves I’ve made in the last six years. I have a series of failed relationships trailing behind me–and if I had to draw a picture of how those function for me as parts of my past, I’d say they are as jarring and as useful as a string of empty aluminum cans attached to the bumper of a bicycle. I don’t really do very well with bicycles. Have you ever seen me ride one or talk about doing so? Then you know that my ability to navigate the portion of my life concerning relationships is about as good as the skill level someone might have who has ridden a bike only a handful of times–the person can get from point A to point B most of the time but definitely doesn’t do it gracefully. So not only can I not manage to ride relationship bicycles well, now I’ve got the aluminum cans marking my past failures dragging behind me making my course rougher and probably contributing to heightened annoyance levels for anyone near me as well as the person who’s wading through reading this right now. So, relationships: that’s something I’m definitely not demonstrating a level of functionality on to a great degree in my life and this doesn’t appear likely to change soon. And I’m saying this here, now, out loud in a sense, because I just find it so absurd that there’s really no reason to protect my ego in relation to it. It’s just that bad. I’ll put it out there. Let my suffering/bungling be your entertainment, at least then it will be productive in some way past engendering my own disgruntlement on a daily basis.
Further things about me one could say are at a significant level of dysfunction, at least on some spectrums of judging it: I keep doing risky things like distilling my belongings down to what I can fit in my car and driving to a different state without a job lined up because I want to live there and be around the people and industry that’s there. I got a job by the way but that was one of those “hahahaha, what the hell are you doing” sorts of sequences I don’t feel like a lot of sober people judge to be a good idea. I moved into a house with two other strength athletes and live like a college student at the age of 32 because it “saves money.” I have been wearing the same pair of monthly contacts for probably five months. I’m avoiding dealing with health insurance signup for the new year. I don’t know what my macros are. I wear three sweaters and just keep washing them over and over. I tell people I don’t know embarrassing, not-aggrandizing things about myself because I don’t know what else to do at this point, everything just feels that hopeless, why not, why don’t we turn this into some sort of comedy?
But…but. Here is the other side of this. I am also a strength athlete. And there, despite severe stress, moving, losses, betrayals, natural disasters, and not being able to ride a bike very well, I am doing quite well. I mean, to me that means my training is going well. I’m not really hurt anywhere, there’s a general trend towards improvement, and psychologically I am very content with how the work now fits into some greater whole. I am patient. There is no judgement. There is no time limit. There is only the beauty of being able to put training session after training session together, into place, done, next one, done, next one, into its little slot as part of the mileage that accumulates on my body. My body is fallible. It could break at any time. Something could happen at any time, an accident, a misjudged movement, a freak event. I understand everything about my physical self to be transient, never static, always in search of equilibrium. I am always in search of moving that equilibrium’s set point and thus I am always knocking my body out of balance, slightly, hoping I give it the recovery it needs to adjust itself back over into the new point of balance only for me to slowly do it again. This process is beautiful to me, as I said. There is nothing to it that is a construct. There is no good and bad, there’s just either going forward or backward. And so here I am, in Columbus, Ohio, and the things I’m best at are prodding my center of balance as it relates to my training along and telling people too much about myself. But I believe that if I give a little bit of how I think to people I don’t know, someone in that mass might find it useful, might see something about what they’re trying to do themselves they didn’t think of.
It doesn’t really hurt me to share how broken I am. If you think I’m broken, how does your perception hurt me? I’ve probably never talked to you in my life. By the way, I know you’re broken too. We all are asked to give energy to existing and we all don’t really know how to allocate that energy in an entirely balanced way. The weak links break, just as they do in the body over time through lifting. You can keep up your facade and I won’t blame you for it, but I know you’re broken. And I know you’re just trying to manage the damage and possibly become less broken, and I know you’re more or less of an asshole as you try to do this, depending on a whole host of values you hold. The more patience you have with your lifting the better it will go for you. The more conservative, the more calculated the risks, the better your development as a maximal strength athlete will progress. Here’s where I think life and lifting deviate though. The body doesn’t exhibit fear, but you do. And the fear your mind hosts holds you back from doing the things necessary to be better, to be a better person, to do greater things. If you do what you have to do in lifting, you will get better. If you hold yourself back from what you have to do in life, your life will not.
What, then, did I just tell myself? If there are parts of my life that aren’t going well, I am willing to bet you fear is at the root of why. Fear keeps me from doing what I need to do, the hard things I need to do, the risks I need to take. I took a risk and moved to Columbus because I did what I had to do and removed what was holding me back from doing what I needed to do for myself. It has and will pay off. If there is something I feel confident in saying now, based on the experience of the last few months, it is that most of us need to take fewer risks in lifting and more risks in life. And yet, the way people lift and behave, it appears the inverse is the easier path. Don’t take the easier path. And don’t wear contacts for five months when they should only be worn for one. Jesus, Janis.