Light Weight

With the Mr. Olympia competition coming up, I wanted to jot down a few notes I’ve learned from Kai Greene – paired with some of the reflection I’ve had after accomplishing a goal I’ve set to do for several years; deadlift 500+ pounds of weight.

One of my favorite Kai quotes deals with his concept of ‘rage’ and how to unleash it at the gym:

“I might be a nasty mother fucker behind the scenes, and might be able to really call on that when I need to; and that’s what makes me proficient at my job. Should it be: being a linebacker, should it be a man outside on the front line fighting for the country, or should it make me a good cop, or would it make me, you know, make me a good athlete right now. I think there’s a psychological profile to that. If you really explore it, it would probably alarm people to think about who this guy must really be. Because you cannot be just a very simple person to explain. A simple person don’t understand with that kinda ability.”

As I was working out with my brother, Mark, I thought about this quote and what it meant. While on the plane to visit MD, I thought about breaking my personal record on deadlift and set my mind to break the 500lb barrier during the visit. I knew if I could set my mind to it, I could accomplish it because I’ve been working toward this goal for several years.

I won’t lie, there were a million things on my mind prior to picking up the weight. Sometimes we use the stressors in our life as fuel to burn in order to accomplish our goals. I think this can be self-defeating and it really doesn’t accomplish anything other than turning these thoughts into selfish motivators, when we really ought to be looking from within.

“Hold on a second, I need to get into my deep, dark place.” I told Mark. I turned my back to the weight – 505 pounds of iron, resting on the floor – and focused on nothing but the idea of picking it up. I thought of the opening of one of my favorite Chimaira songs, turned around and told the weight “I’m gonna have my way with you.” then reached down to pick it up.

When you’re in the midst of doing something difficult, what makes the action much harder isn’t the actual task, but the amount of excuses one can make that make failure seem like a welcome home. This is true inside and out of the gym. “Nobody would blame you if you quit” is one of the most poisonous excuses you can make, because it shortchanges you from accomplishing you know you’re capable of.

At this moment in my life, I’m facing a battle that would seem understandable if I quit or gave up on. However, I know that there’s something in me that is capable of overcoming the fears and justifications that tend to scream in my mind for me to quit. I can’t and won’t.

Looking into the mirror and making every twisted face I knew how to make, I called on every bit of that inner rage Kai spoke about and picked up that weight. “Get it. Lock it out.” Mark pushed as I stood up and relieved 505lb of weight from its resting place on the floor. Glory, baby.

There’s a poetic element to weightlifting, in that it provides a sense of balance to other areas of your life. “Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” reminds me you never ought to let a man tenderly hold your hand if he isn’t willing to use those hands to fight his battles in life; in the gym, office, mind, or fighting to become the best man he can be.

What I respect about Kai is his ability to be soft-spoken and loving to others when he’s not lifting heavy weights. In this same token, I respect that a lot about myself and realize it’s a strong quality to have. Whether it’s drawing doodles on a whiteboard with a family member or taking the time to write short love notes on sugar packets to remind somebody how special they are, I’ve been able to find a balance between being able to unleash my heart in seemingly opposing displays of action.

Robert Bly writes that a knight must know how to ride three horses – the black, white, and red horse. The black is for our dark battles we fight. The white is for our inner purity/integrity. And the red is the deep love we possess and display to another. Without these three, one is left wanting.

Next stop, 600.

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