The Wrestler

I sat on the bleachers in the dark.  They were too low to the floor and my knees were too high.  The blue outside light of a gray sky was the only suggestion of light and it was too far away to show me much detail of the mat before me.  But I traced the lines with tired eyes, squinting as one deep in thought.

“This is what we do,” said the voice.  “Come on.  Let’s fight.”

I did not look up.  I did not reply.  I just sat and stared at the lines on the mat.

“Come on,” repeated the voice.  “Fight me.”

I thought about that.  I thought about wrestling with that voice.  I thought about the nagging and sly way that it made itself something worth fighting.  As if I had to prove myself.  I considered the fight.  I would entertain that voice, engage with it… only to find it a weakling and easily beat it.

And it would bounce up off the mat the moment I got up to declare my victory and challenge me again.  So we would dance.  So we would fight.  All day long.  And I would beat it every single time…

Until the time I couldn’t move any more.  Until the time I couldn’t fight.  Until the point I came to the end of me and it pinned me underneath all of the things I used to believe about myself.

“No,” I said to myself.  “I will not fight.”

The taunts began.  The jeers and rants.  The drenching, ugly effect of the most unlovely and unworthy words.  How they tried to cover me and clothe me – I wanted to fight!

I wanted to fight.  For a moment.

Then I remembered.  And I stood up and walked toward the door of the gym.  I pushed it open and stepped into the bitter winter wind and the thousands of pin pricks of a freezing, driving rain.  I heard the howling of creation.  I saw the churning of a gray sky.  I let myself relax into something bigger and greater and more terrible and beautiful and wondrous than I could imagine.

I closed my eyes.  I let the rain fall and the wind howl and the sky twist over upon itself.

How could I fight on such a beautiful day?


A Year of No Goals

(Okay, okay.  I’m a liar.  I have tons of goals!  School and career and personal goals… but!)

For the first year in a very, very long time – I am not training for any athletic events.

Not a single one.

A year of no goals.

It’s terrifying, isn’t it?  What will become of me?  What will happen to all of the training I’ve got in place?  What will I do without consistent, regimented structure?  What will I do without spreadsheets and lists and intervals?

I’m not really sure.

Maybe I will go hiking with my brothers more.  Or with my nephews.  Or my dog.

Maybe I will be more available to open water swim.  Maybe I will find myself at Masters more.  I want to swim with a group of people I haven’t seen in a long time.  I want to be ready to kayak for anybody who needs it.  My swimmers.  Or my friends.  Or my dog.

Maybe I will find adventure in places that I’ve never been.  I would like to drive to strange mountains and lakes and rivers, pull the car off at little turns and discover swimming holes and paths and wild islands and run across them…

I want to drive to the ocean and swim.  Because sometimes I miss the ocean so much that tears well up in my eyes…

I want to try rock climbing.  Play basketball.  Learn to dance.  Throw a frisbee with a friend.  Or my dog.

I want to pitch a tent somewhere under the Vermont stars and listen to the moonbeams sighing in the night…

I want to run.  Wildly.  Freely.  Without program.  Because I kind of like running.

I want to learn to move correctly.  I want to have better posture all day long.  I want to lift and pull and turn and jump and walk and stand and crawl and clamber as much as my job requires it and all without hurting.

I want to be stronger.  I want to be healthier.

I want to be more and better than I’ve ever been before.

Sometimes even athletic goals get in the way of being healthy.

I want to be ready for all of the years.  I want to be ready for all of the goals.  I want to be ready for all of the things that will happen beyond anything I could ask or think or dream or imagine.

Basics.  Strength.  Nutrition.  Friends.  Family.  Adventure.  Rest.

AND the dog.

I can’t wait to see what this year has in store!