Each winter, much like the season itself, the training cycle is a tough one. Requiring a certain stubbornness only those whose ancestors weren’t killed off by Vikings would understand, the winter training cycle is a grind. It is a millstone against which all but the toughest grains are pulverized leaving the chafe strewn and scattered about while sewing seeds of strength, determination, and mental toughness.
And then the CrossFit Open and the Festivus Games begin. Before long I’ll be basking in the unique stench one only gets to enjoy while cleaning out gutters. My hands will be black and greasy from late-night, long overdue car repairs. My tractor will begin clanking and clunking its way around the yard chopping away at the grass that I let grow a bit too long. The roar of big blocks ripping down Rt 277 will get my heart beating a little faster and turn the 2 stroke in my hands into a rip-snorting RG500 Gamma that I don’t yet have the money to own or the skill to drive, screaming down the high banks of Daytona. The weeds don’t stand a chance! Indeed, spring is a great time of the year. Along with bee stings and dandelions come new beginnings and the unbridled potential for growth, progress, learning, and exploration. It got me thinking about Neal Unger and his amazing attitude towards skateboarding and towards life.
I don’t know Neal, personally, I only know of him from a YouTube video where he discusses his passion for skateboarding. Click on this link to watch it. Upon watching the video interview one may be a little shocked that I identify so strongly with him. Soft spoken and seemingly carefree, he leaves one with the impression that he is a gentle soul who may enjoy a slightly more “laid back” lifestyle than do I.
Let’s forget about Neal for a moment. In fact, let’s take Neal out of the equation entirely and just look at his words.
“I am a beginner. I cannot do most of the skateboarding tricks. I can do maybe
10 to 20 percent of the basic skateboarding tricks.”
He says it with complete acceptance. Not with surrender, nor with the thought that he will not progress to the next level, to that of an intermediate or expert skateboarder. He simply understands where he is on his journey and where he wants to go, and he is ok with that.
How many of us could benefit from that same attitude? The moment our ego and reality no longer meet is the exact mark in time that the disaster is going to unfold. Having an understanding of our skill level, and accepting it, is the first step in making progress.
In the grand scheme of our lives, the majority of us have spent just a fraction of it under a bar. We are truly beginners pursuing a sport that only rewards patience, perseverance, and practice. Be it blissful ignorance or a willful disregard of the facts one can only fool themselves so long before they find themselves lost and further from their goals than when they started. Don’t be so quick to condemn yourselves for the “tricks” you cant do. Enjoy the ones that you can do and all the benefits they bring to the your health and vitality.
“It is so fun and I apply what I have learned about my mind and the
creative process and take that to other aspects of my life.”
Sometimes we need to be reminded of all of the benefits we get, both physically and psychologically, from the suffering we endure while under the bar. A stronger, healthier, more mobile version of ourselves will be much more productive with our day. We become better equipped to rise to any challenge and we build the stubbornness, confidence, and determination to see things through to completion. We become stouthearted. As our confidence grows and we start to feel better about ourselves our interactions with our family and friends increase and becomes more positive in nature. Time spent together becomes both more physically active as well as more interactive. Electronics and social media start to take a back seat and we start to participant more in our surroundings. Neal’s attitude is a poignant reminder of the amazing benefits bestowed upon those of us that spend time under the bar.
“My goals for my skateboarding are to literally continue to research the quietness of my mind and how quiet it can become and joyful that is.”
The scraping of a bumper plate sliding on a bar, an audible foreshadowing of that which is about to unfold. The sharp clanking of 45’s against the mats, an iron metronome’s dictation of your work. The whirlwind thrumming of the spinning flywheel as it ebbs and flows under foot. The chorus of sandpaper songs that can emanate only from the bruised and bloodied lungs of athletes that just reached a new, dark place. The room is anything but quiet in a gym full of iron.
Still, there is truth in his words, though the quiet of my mind changes from day to day. At times there is no razor-edged thought, nor a clear focal point. My mind becomes awash in the warm colors and airy shades of loved ones. Other times it is simply an all-consuming and absolute desire to not let anyone down. Sometimes I’m dialed in and on point in Afghanistan hearing, as it cracks on the A-pillar inches from my face, the very first 7.62 round sent my way. A few days ago it was those grey eyes fading, again. Often it is the Krakens’ sweet smiles and their raucous laughter and the familiar faces of the UNLEASHED.
More importantly, I can tell you exactly what it isn’t. It’s not bills that need to be paid or invoices that must be sent. It’s not missed reps or poor technique. Nor is it thoughts of the chaos, confusion, and distraction that lay beyond the walls of my gym and my home. It is not deadlines, bedtimes, salesmen, and telephone calls. It’s not my aching shoulder or my calf strain, or the 24 hours that always runs short. Nor is it the vomitorium in which I was dwelling for the last 96 hours with 4 puking kids and a nauseous wife. When I’m in my gym full of iron the quiet of my mind, I suspect much like Neal’s, is everything that is great in my life. What’s yours?
LIVE – GET STRONG – WIN