You think you’re looking at one thing — but then, something happens, and the perspective shifts. When you adjust the focus, you come to see that something else has been going on all along. You thought you were just trying to lose a few pounds, but then you realize that you’ve developed beautiful muscles. You thought your work was preparing you for one type of career, but then you discover that you’ve become equipped for something else entirely, something far better than you’d planned. Was that a lightning bug or a comet? Is Benito Cereno the ship’s captain or its hostage? Is she really carrying the moon on her back?
Writing is hard. I want to run away. It’s an absolute confrontation with the self, though, so you can’t run away. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to metaphors: they screen; I can hide for a minute, catch my breath.
Strength training is the same kind of hard: there’s nowhere to hide. I always show up on time, I’m always warmed up, ready to go. My trainer’s always there, always ready; he shows up too, every time.
I have trouble with shoulder movements. I tend to hike my shoulder blades up towards my ears, caving in on myself, compressing my neck. When this happens, I can’t breathe properly, my posture breaks down, I hunch. When this happens, he stands behind me and touches his fingers across the top of my trapezius muscle, gently pressing down, to keep me in place. To remind me of the proper form. “Remember to stabilize the scapula,” he says. Continue reading
I want you to turn all your weight training over to me, he said that first day. When you’re working on your own, you can do whatever you want in terms of cardio or stretching or yoga, whatever. But leave your strength to me. This was exactly what I wanted to hear.
I wanted to be strong, so I signed up with a personal trainer and started lifting heavy weights. Every week, I listened hard, I worked hard, and I got it all wrong. We do as many reps as we need in order to get your muscles to failure, he told me. That’s the goal here: we’re training to failure. I took this in as a life lesson, and when I left the training floor, I kept lifting weights that were far, far too heavy.
What a dope I was: I was hearing everything as a metaphor, and I kept missing the real lesson. Perhaps I think in terms of metaphor too much. Perhaps I should just focus on things themselves. Continue reading