When I was 19, I got my first Nursing Assistant job. The job was at Queen Anne Manor, an assisted living/Memory care home for the elderly. It was located smack dab in one of the swankiest parts of Seattle and I was young, I was ambitious, and likely, a bit overly eager. I figured I would learn some cool things along the way, make some fun relationships with my residents, and call it good after accruing enough hours to make my resume look good for whatever graduate program I would be heading off towards.
Now, when looking back on my time there, I’ve realized just how much of what I learned not only changed my perspective as a CrossFit athlete, but also my perspective on life.
None of us really want to think about the days ahead of us, when our bodies and minds begin to slip. Yet, morbid or not, it is an inescapable fact of life.
Now, you may be asking yourself at this point: “Uh Morgan, great pick me up story you got going here, but I am not here for a downer, I wanna talk PRs, crushing weights, and how to get Buff AF!!!!!”
Okay, yes, I hear you and get what you are saying. But I do not bring this up to be overly gloomy or depressing. But we should not dilute this reality down, and instead, I bring it up as a reminder that we only have one life, one body, and one shot at this whole dance. And if there was anything I REALLY learned during my time at Queen Anne Manor, surrounded by those nearing the end of their run, it was this:
We must be honored, humbled, and ferocious in our attempts to protect our minds and body, while we still have any control over it, at all.
When I would take care of these people, helping them do the most basic activities of daily living, they would repeatedly tell me, “Morgan, enjoy your youth. Enjoy your body. Take care of it, because one day you will be like this.”
Life is a multitude of circumstances, setbacks, hardships, and obstacles we cannot control. Often kicking our ass, and throwing us out to the corner street. Setbacks at work. Financial troubles. Loss of loved ones... And unfortunately, these are often also inescapable situations. So, in the face of life’s never ending barrage of contests, what do we do?
CrossFit is fun and incredible because of the PRs, the crushing of weights, and the “buff AF-ness”. But, CrossFit is beautiful, and so much more than just fun, because it gives us a vehicle and a process by which we can aim to better ourselves. A way to prepare ourselves for the inescapable hardships we are surely to face. And hopefully a way to slow the inevitable agin process just a little bit!
We learn to get up. We learn to fight for that extra rep. So when we are knocked down and want to give up out in the world, we are reminded of how we fought for ourselves here, inside this gym. Because at the end of the day, all you’ll have is YOU. Your mind, your body, your will to fight through what makes us want to quit and give up. This is why we wake up at 5am. This is why we work on exploding through the bar, or pulling when we don’t want to. This is why we push ourselves so hard. As to gain any inch of momentum, so when life and its thundering clout of doubt, fear, and shame are upon us, we remember all the work, doubt, and fear we have already overcome. So that maybe we will be just a bit more prepared out there, and believe in our ability to respond to life’s hardships.
This Open season, it is my hope we are all able to remain cognizant of the real challenge at hand. These workouts, though in the guise of CrossFit workouts, should remain centered on the idea of striving for the best version of yourself. And to always remember most that what we face outside the space of this gym will be even harder than the workout which pops up on our screen these Thursday evenings. Thus, we must find a way to turn our struggles and triumphs here in the gym, as a process to be ready for what is beyond the gym’s doors.
If you have ever been in class with me, I sometimes talk of “the process.” And this is it. The process by which you consume these minutes spent in the gym, to accumulate skills and lessons not only allowing for physical improvement, but more importantly, facilitating a ferocious defense for every inch of your visceral being out in the “real world”. Because one day, it will be gone. But how you get to that point, and the fight you put up in between is something we can take charge of.
So, like hell, we all should. And honestly, I believe we all will.
Congrats on finishing the first workout of The Open. Let’s get after it again next week.