Am I making progress? Am I moving forward ? Am I half the man I used to be? Endless questions I ask myself every day. I don’t ask them with a negative tone but most certainly with a tone of resolution sprinkled with curiosity. As the weeks progress into my training, I find myself searching for something I thought I had lost.. my competitive fire. Relax, I know a lot of it is still there but there is this childlike energy I get when I am truly feeling myself. I poke and prod and laugh and make a competition out of everything. I am Michael’s 8 year old soul playing street fighter again.
As a younger man, it was something I did every training session to make it more fun and of course, extremely competitive. What was the point if I wasn’t beating someone? As the injuries stacked up and I grew “older and wiser” a part of this energy dwindled. I suppose burning the candle at both ends take with it a lot of our childish nature, even the good ones. Yet, as I find myself progressing into my athleticism, I feel a surge of confidence that has me making competitions out of everything again. I find myself teasing the Youngbloods at The Battle Axe to catch me on the bike or throw higher than me. It is no long from a place youthful cockiness but from a place of joy. I find myself setting standards every week that has a small buzz on instagram and a great energy source at The Battle Axe.
It is felt more than every on Sundays as me and some of my lifters culminate to end the week on a strong note. I find it spreading in the faces of new and old lifters being pushed to limits to not only beat the olde wolf but also push themselves. I remind them that if I am winning at the things in the gym then they need to be better, for I am training lifters to smash my best days but I refuse to make it easy. I find myself eager for heavy days on the week and strong finishes on the weekends as I get another opportunity to raise my personal standards and ignite fires in the bellies of my clan. If they beat me I win (as a coach), if I beat them I win (as an athlete) but in the end we all win as we push forward with an unending and bellowing oven of competitive fire.
“We all rise”, I have said this as a response to many positive texts and DM’s and continue to do so on a weekly basis. The prescription to this is to ask yourself the questions I started this paper with. Does the confidence of growth exude from your very being when you walk into the gym? Are you the source and the beacon of courage or are you consistently drinking from the well of others? Ask yourself if reposting a meme your best attribute or are you stepping into the gym to rise from the ashes of an untold story you keep in your heart. Will you let this energy drip out of your blood, sweat and tears as a source of inspiration or as a vacuum of pitiful sympathy? There are millions of ways to express the urgency to help others. Starting small competitions, smiling in the face of adversities, taking training seriously, raging when it is your time, helping others with your positive presence are just a few that can make your presence known to others and most importantly, to yourself.
I find myself in these waters again. Finding myself all over again at 34 years of age is a beautiful feeling and you know what? I am not good at it. I fight off feelings of positivity or great personal strides with negative ideas just like all of you. I fight against the quicksand of depression, self doubt and fear every fucking day just like everyone and in many ways, much worse. My self destructive nature is my gift, it is my burden and my inner fire. Within this world I find myself grateful that this far into my competitive life I am finding battles to keep fighting internally and externally. All these beautiful trenches built for me to fight my foes, keep the wolves at bay and be a presence. That is The Way. It is me fighting against straying, getting lost and losing… and it all starts with the iron, stone and rage of the gym. It all starts every day and it ends every day.. as does everything.
Never Stray from The Way