Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Why We Lift

I was up early this morning grading exams before working out.

Rediscovering the simple pleasure of lifting as a senior adult is a strange, wonderful, confusing, intimidating, and ultimately immensely satisfying preoccupation. 

Lifting, like life, is alternatively easy and hard, good and bad, satisfying and frustrating. The highs and lows of a lifetime seem to be experienced in a single weight training session. The emotions of life -- from pure exhilaration to a sense of being completely overwhelmed -- are there at every pull up. 

There are no secrets to success. It's just you and your body. There are times when your body seems to betray you, times when the path forward is not clearly marked. But with every step you take, you can begin to write your own story. 

When someone on campus asks me, "How are you doing?" I sometimes say, "Living the dream." That's an exaggeration of course. Nothing in life is easy. The real adventure begins when you spend less time thinking about doing something and more time doing it. Going to the gym makes you a more honest person, I think. You can't pretend that you are stronger than you are. You can't pretend that you are more committed than you are. You can't pretend to be a lifter. You actually have to lift. 

As I tell my story on this blog, I have discovered that there are many people out there who are just like me. They are runners who race without any hope of winning. They are lifters who lift without any hope of attaining their dream physique. They are mountaineers without any hope of getting to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Much to my surprise, a good many of you have emailed me about those times when I seemed to have put into words what you were feeling about yourselves and about the (new) role activity has begun to play in your lives. What unifies us in the exercise community is our commitment to using lifting or running or climbing as a way of finding the best in ourselves and those around us. Every step has taken us closer to the person we want to be. 

Every day I lift I am one day closer to wherever I'm headed.