Why are you here?
Posted on September 21st, 2011
We all live busy lives.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what the priority is. It can be difficult some days to step back into the gym to train – and to do so with purpose. But we do it.
Here I am, fresh from a day’s work. I sit. I tie my shoes. I shake it off. “What did I come here to do? What is my goal?”
The answer I give now is much different than in the past. We all know that youth comes with certain urges. We are compelled to do something, even if that thing is not a good idea. In our ever-expanding world, we must fill the void created by our lack of wisdom and experience. We hope to define ourselves in some meaningful way – in anyway, really.
For me, it was sport. More specifically, it was strength.
I latched onto the idea of one day being the strongest. It was fortunate that my body fit that ambition. Perhaps it was the only real perk of being a chubby adolescent.
I trained all the time from grade school through college, albeit very poorly. I’ve written about all those lessons learned. With time, I think I’ve made the most of those past mistakes. But the biggest error was not in my method. It was my perspective.
I had it all wrong.
I wanted to be the guy lifting the most in the weight room. I wanted to own the PR board. To let everyone in my school know, without any doubt, that I was the strongest. Wherever I went and whatever I did.
I remember sitting in my Biology II class sophomore year of college. I had the talent to ace that course. And I did. But I could have done more. I could spent time doing research after class. I could have talked with the Professor about his research. About which graduate programs may be an excellent fit for me…About the potential to study abroad.
There would still have been plenty of opportunity to lift, but I didn’t make time.
Instead, I just sat there in my chair wearing a tight Westside Barbell T-shirt. I doodled notes about training, counting down the clock until the time I could rush off back to the barbell.
If I had been studying the art of Kung Fu instead of Powerlifting, my master would have been most disappointed.
What good is strength without wisdom?
Eventually I had some success. But I never reached my potential, mostly because that target was always moving away from me. No matter how much I lifted, or how much I progressed, I always noticed the lifters who were better. The goal I aspired to was a mirage.
I see my past hopeful, futile struggle in others today. For many, stronger, faster, bigger, leaner, or smaller will never be enough. Because there will always be a bigger bodybuilder, a faster Crossfitter, or a thinner model. Why do they train? I know the answer all too well.
Today, some 10 years after that Biology class, I answer that question differently.
I train for the same reasons that I read a book. I know that I am limited in certain respects. I have weaknesses to uncover, ignorance that must be exposed, and skills that must be refined. Every day, I must take my axe to the grind stone…It just so happens that barbells and books make for great grindstones.
Sure, I’m getting older. But I still expect much of myself. I can become more.
There’s more I want to accomplish and share. There’s more that I can do for my friends. There’s more that I want to offer my son.
..So yeah, you could say that I figured it out.
I know why I am here.