This post was inspired by a post on AncestralizeMe.
Before I went to PaleoFX as a speaker, I too worried.
Would I pass muster? Would I be lean enough? Smart enough? Would I get to be part of this fun club? What happens if people judge me and — inevitably — find me lacking?*
And then I thought: Judge me, assholes. Judge the hell out of me. Let me know when you’re done. I’m going to go get a coffee.
Because I have other business in this world.
That business, dear reader, is healing your busted shit. That business is flicking a tiny spark on to your psychic sawdust pile. That business is getting you off your ass and out of your head and in to the gym or wherever else you choose to move your body.
That business is not debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and exactly what they should look like in bikinis. That business is not pleasing you or Big Fitness or Daddy. That business is speaking truth.
That business is not clique-building or sooper-sekrit-club-having. In fact, I’m not picky in the least.
So give me your poor, your tired, your weak of spine and crumbling of bone. Give me your mushy of muscle and burbly of digestion and bored of treadmill-hamstering.
Give me your old and young and everything between early bipedalism and death. And while you’re at it give me your non-bipedal: your limps and gimps and wimps and wheeled and caned and casted and bandaged. Untangle your sweaty hospital sheets and IV tubes and tentacles of fear and shame and move whatever isn’t strapped down. A finger, a leg, an eyelid. Whatever you can move, keep moving it. Next week, add some weight to that.
Give me your saggy, your baggy, your faggy, your haggy. Give me your freaks and geeks; steers and queers; sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, preppies, jocks, stoners, poindexters, punkers, rockers, hicks, drama dorks, superstars, homebodies, farmers, New Wavers and socs.
Give me your bodies wracked with life’s whims; your hormonally challenged; your rattling bottles of pills like morbid maracas; your diseases of disuse. Your old knee injury from when you tried drunken trampolining.
Give me your your shit-talkers and funk-walkers; the voices in your head who sing the Rocky training montage; your sniveling inner toddler who stamps and says “No!”. Leave your inner critic at the door, or do five pushups every time you speak to yourself seriously in her voice.
Give me your clueless big-eyed newbies and grizzled gray-prickly veterans. Give me your squashy and scrawny. Give me your chickenshits; you people hunting for your fighting spirit and tending the tiny flame of Yes we can inside your ribcage.
It doesn’t matter who kicked the sand in your face. Spit it out and let’s get to work.
You can all apply for this job of awesome. No resumé required. The universe will be your hiring committee, and we need a lot of staff.
All are welcome in this house that strength built.
I mean the strength that moves the barbell and the strength that tries to move the bar and the strength that gets you to go near the bar in the first place when you are bowel-loosening scairt and intimidated as shit in that small grimy weight room full of grunting furry manpeople who smell like cheese and wet dog and old sweaty leather.
I mean the strength of putting one foot in front of the other. Or simply standing still when the winds of life are shoving you backwards like a schoolyard bully.
I mean the strength that sometimes looks like madness. The strength that sometimes looks like baby-weakness. The strength that is a tiny nugget of steel inside you. The strength that is compassion big enough to cuddle the world… even if you don’t yet know it is there, and certainly cannot yet turn it on yourself. The strength that 2 million years of evolution have given you, in your standard-issue package of human DNA.
I mean the strength of getting up off the floor and trying again. I mean the strength of having a good cry in the fetal position, drowning yourself in slithery snot and shame, and then uncurling, wiping your nose, and getting on with it.
Here, we do not build altars to shamed starvation; to the stimulant-addled; the sodium-depleted; the surgically caricatured and Photoshop-glazed puff pastries that pass for images of “fitness”.
Here, we do not glorify masochism wrapped in a sticky-sweet package of “inspiration” and “reaching your goals”. Fuck goals. Life laughs at goals. Fuck 8-week programs and accountancy. Fuck “pain is weakness leaving the body”. Deep kindness is braver than bashing and berating.
Here we set aside, for a moment, the demons that drive you to be better, thinner, prettier, perkier, painting and panting by numbers, wrapping yourself in the barbed-wire security blanket of mathematics, jumping through the ever-higher flaming hoops of social approval. Here we graduate from high school.
Here we don’t rebel against anything. Because we know that rebelling against something still makes that other thing the boss of us. We drive away into the sunset, following our own path.
Here, we don’t justify ourselves with “___ is the new sexy”. Your sexy is your own goddamned business. Have two orgasms in whatever way floats your boat, and call me in the morning.
Here, there are no invincible superwomen. We creak. We crunch. We sweat and stink. We have lumps and bumps. We slam our fingers between weight plates by mistake and conk our foreheads when we bend down to unload the barbell. We fart. Sometimes, if we have made babies, we pee ourselves. Just a little bit. We shrug and keep on deadlifting or doing jumping jacks or laughing deep in our jiggling bellies.
We know our insides have their own agendas. We take our bodies by the hand and keep going, till death do us part.
We know that action is the enemy of fear. As is a gut-busting giggle, a real exuberant screw-you HA HA HA.
We do our best to lighten the fuck up. To stay real. After all, if we argue with reality, we will always lose. We might as well fist-bump reality and become buddies.
Some days we have workouts so lousy that we want to leave the gym with a paper bag over our heads. Some days we have workouts when heavenly choirs sing and gently hoist our barbell with shining fingers. Some days we have workouts only in the sense that we put on running shoes. Some days we have workouts after which we double-dog-dare the world to fuck with us.
Wherever you are in your journey of strength, you are welcome here. This place is for you.
*Irony: Nobody judged me. Or at least, if they did, they didn’t say anything. Instead, they were all terrifically nice. Must be all the fresh air and good livin’.