42. Time Under Tension. (2018)

(Originally seen in Raze magazine, Issue #1, 2018)

I over-think. But I am not the oft-seen “over-thinker/ under-doer”.

I think hard about deep water because I know I can and will put myself in it, and that it often gets deeper far quicker than even my over-thinkery could account for. Anticipatory pre-redundancy system; If you’re thinking about a single back-up plan, then the need for two is probably already one step ahead of you.

I did not over-think the booking of a recent trip to Salt Lake City to talk and train with a bunch of people I had never met in an environment I had never been in with a purpose that was completely (intriguingly) murky. When the offer was made, I immediately signed on the dotted line and began my plan. My lack of hesitation speaks loudly to the offerers’ quality and quietly to my mental disclarity.

My “plan” was to figure out at all costs how to unravel the tightening knot that my body and brain had found themselves in prior to making a daunting cross-country trip to talk physicality and philosophy with people so interesting to me that I would have walked the distance had that been the directive.

I had a spinal fusion surgery in 2012 after a less-invasive version went poorly in 2009. The invasion in 2012 also went poorly, and it impacted my left big toe and leg irreparably. I was informed of a 15% chance of return to normal function; I don’t want to know their percentage had the mistake they made been figured in. They tried to fix what they broke with too much medicine, for too long, and with too little care. It did damage, helped very little, and it was all I could do to stay ahead of it. Until, I couldn’t.

Based on a previous haphazard removal of a prescription steroid, this next exit was handled with care, but still proved far less than cooperative. (Because this is boring, and ultimately just the perimeter of the point) I will say that the steroid removal presented an element of physical and psychological dysfunction that I would not wish on any but three of my worst enemies; Nothing worked, yet I made it work, because it had to work. Until, it wouldn’t.

I knew I had a few months to right the ship, and did not doubt for one minute (until the week before I was to leave) that I would do so. It was very important to me to be at my best. People do not offer me things; I am the proverbial squeaky wheel- We are where we are because we made it so (for better or worse)… Here were a group of people that I respected extending a thorns-removed olive branch, and there was not a moment of doubt (until the week before the trip) as to whether I would grab hold.

The primary inviter had some idea of the situation I was in, but only because I wanted to pre-qualify that I was not usually a tipsy, clumsy, poorly-coordinated mess, assuming I did make it out at all.

I was eating Borax (cleaning product) as a hail-Mary fix-it strategy, bracing for a 3/1000 prior to putting on or taking off my shoes because I was prone to falling down, and using any manner of trick, trap, and anchor to keep training the main movement patterns; There was no sense in getting weaker while I was getting weaker.

The removal of the steroid had baited some sort of inflammatory arthritis, and the drug had been falsely supporting my adrenals for so long that without it, they no longer felt any obligation to support me. I could barely walk, think, or sleep. But I trained every day. Some days I fell over, and each day I did not fucking care.

Someone I respected offered me something I appreciated, and I was going to do it justice if it fucking killed me; Maybe it’s a character flaw.

A week before the trip, the near-comical reality of what was going on set in during a moment of decaffeinated weakness, and I nearly pulled the plug. I was torn as to whether it was more disrespectful to accept an offer to be among high-level life participants such as these in the state I was in, or to respectfully withdraw and not risk the humiliation, pain, and emasculation that a trip in my current state would certainly create.

I taped my wrists (the only way I could close my hands at that time), thought about some hard things I had done and seen, put on music made by people that had done and seen much harder, and pushed myself as far and hard as I could. Even in its respectively pathetic measure, the work provided the moment of clarity I needed to decide that suffering will always be better than settling, for me, and that no matter what happened before, during, or after, it was all more appealing than being left to wonder.

I fell down in the airport, twice, and took 30-minute cold showers at the end of each day in an attempt to even get my body to operate as a system. I used my entire non-existent 401K in Tiger Balm in two-and-a-half days, and my hands shook so bad when I wasn’t shaking hands that I was sure anyone present believed me to be nervous, or a junkie; Not sure which would have been worse.

We talked, we trained, and until reading this I had hoped most had no idea that anything odd was even afoot; Their motivation and camaraderie (and insubordination and sincerity), elicited highest clarity, in the midst of some hearty adversity.

The psychological transcends with a comma… It is only the purely physical that ends with a period; I was making the mistake of perceiving this as a task of body, when in fact it was just another devilish motherfucking mind game.

All told, all parts, were well-worth playing.