Exercise and fitness are a huge part of my life. The health benefits are great, but the resulting quality time with my wife and friends is even more valuable.
I became serious about improving my physical health in 2014 and am now in the best shape of my life. Working with a personal trainer has been a key to my success. It was an incredible stroke of luck to find someone who has helped me grow in strength and ability beyond anything ever imagined possible. Also, much more than strength and ability grew. The guy who started off as my trainer has become one of my best friends. Nothing could have been better – health and muscle gains all while hanging out with my buddy.
My workout routine became an obsession. Just working out with a trainer was not enough. At one point I was in the gym seven days a week, and if a workout was missed, it made me cranky. Continuing at that level of demand on my body was not sustainable. Still, I pushed forward until the inevitable happened. A few minor injuries and setbacks occurred, and my body needed rest.
I began to fear all of my gains would be lost. Backing off on the intensity of the routine would certainly mean a loss of what I had worked so hard to achieve. Those feelings were channeled into this poem, and that seemed to be the end of the story. But something deeper existed in the meaning. It was not just the loss of muscle and physical strength I feared.
A priceless friendship had grown from what started as a trainer-client relationship, and although it sounds ridiculous to state it now, a threat to sustaining the insane gym routine translated into a threat to the friendship. My narrow mind was equating one with the other. I was selling my friend and the friendship short.
In no way was this conclusion reached on my own. That was achieved by talking about what was in my head with my
trainer friend – a continuing key to my personal success both in and out of the gym.
I have changed my workout routine, finding new ways to stay active, being smarter about time in the gym and resting. Nothing has been lost and the truly important thing has continued to grow – the prized friendship is worth more than ever before.
A considerable amount of time passed between writing these two poems, yet, they seem to belong together. They remind me of valuable lessons about jealousy and how reality may substantially differ from appearances.
We all have scars, myself included.
During a period of extreme unhappiness, it was surprising to have people making statements to me wishing they had my life. If they had been aware of my struggles, discontent, and inner sadness, such statements would never have been made. While wondering how anyone could be envious of my life, recognition of the dangers of my own jealousies emerged.
It is easy to look at someone who appears successful or happy and want parts of that person’s life for our own. However, no one lives a life free of challenge and we rarely see the whole of a person’s life. Knowing the sacrifices necessary to achieve the point of envy may make it less appealing. Also, ongoing and future struggle must be considered.
Taking what someone else has requires the whole package be taken – good and bad. Fortunately though, we can change individual parts of ourselves. We can draw inspiration from successful people, modeling the behavior and actions of those we admire to better ourselves. But we must use observations of others to build on the greatness we already have. Envy will achieve just the opposite.
If it isn’t already obvious, these are lessons I am still learning.
The holiday season may not be a time of happiness and joy for everyone. For many years I have been among those who experience some darkness during the time of merry and bright. The jubilation is just too much at times and it can be a struggle to remain engaged and not become isolated. This isn’t to say there are no moments of cheer. In fact, the times of darkness can allow me to see great value in the simplest moments of joy.
Over the years, holiday festivities were never of great significance in my family. We always gathered on Christmas Day at my parents house to spend time together, but it was not an over-the-top celebration. A day of simple togetherness was enough. The light of holiday time dimmed a bit more for me when that togetherness was lost in 2013. Our tradition may have been simple, but it was something to cherish.
In the summer of 2013 my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. By December his health had declined significantly and he was in a great deal of pain. On Christmas Eve my stepmom called to say the usual gathering was not an option. She had a terrible cold and the pain had become too much for my dad to get out of bed, let alone deal with having a house full of people. On Christmas evening, dad ended up in the hospital. He never returned home and only remained with us for two more months. It was an extremely challenging time, and although my relationship with that man was a tumultuous one, I miss him.
There was reluctance to share this story and poem from fear of tainting the joy of the season, but healing comes from sharing. I know I am not alone in my struggles during the holiday season, and I know I will not be alone in my healing.
The lobby of the building where I work is a five story open expanse with enormous walls of glass. The echoey space is where I eat lunch most days. From my preferred seat there is a great view all around of the people passing through. Usually there is just a constant parade of casually dressed office workers. However, one particular afternoon, a very well-dressed young woman walked through the lobby wearing sky-high black heeled boots and a cocktail dress fitting like she was born in it. I’m not a guy who typically stares at a woman, but this was different. I could not take my eyes off her……and she was getting closer and closer! The attention commanding work of living art came so close that I thought she was going to sit down across from me, but she didn’t stop. The fierce prance ever-so-close to my table continued, and then it happened.