Grey paint drips from my paint brush as I stand on the ledge of the warehouse's loading dock. Heels on the rusty metal edge, while my toes hang over the 4 foot drop that leads to a black concrete ocean which separates me from the world that I once knew. My hands hurt, not from training, but from normal people work. Painting, moving, building, and cleaning. My back aches with pain as I stand over the dock watching boats and cars flash by. My back hurts while I watch my old life disappear, and a new one bloom under my feet. Creaks, drips and cracks echo throughout the gym, as if the gym is welcoming me. I stand in a clean gym after many days of work building an idea, but my body is covered in webs and dust. My white eyes brighter than ever from the dirt that covers my face. My shirt stained from the coffee that has dripped from my mouth. My jeans wrap around my legs with much insecurity from not being worn much. Weightlifters don't wear jeans, they wear sweat pants. This is a fact. Hot or cold, rain or sun. The Adidas stripes make us proud, make us feel as if we are a part of something bigger than us. A weightlifter only trains in shorts if he or she doesn't have sweats available in the closet. People ask me why weightlifters only train in sweats. I answer, "The same reason why weightlifters don't use clips on the bar when lifting.......there is no method to the madness, no one really knows the answer, we just do".
Holes in my black Adidas sweats cover my shoes as if oil was dripping down my leg. Oil from my rotting back leaking down my spine, dwindling all hopes of ever getting back to where I used to be. Every pinch of pain my back gives off, a kilo drops from my eye, falling into the black ocean of pavement below the loading dock I hover over. There is no where for me to go. If I step forward I fall off into the ocean of forgotten and normalcy. If I step backwards, I am met by a familiar friend and enemy....the bar. Maybe this is why I have been standing on this ledge looking out for so long. I wonder.....are we really in control of our own destinies, or does a greater power already have a path laid out for us? If I step forward, was I supposed to step forward? Or would I have made the wrong choice and should of stepped backwards? Is moving to the side even an option? If so, what the hell is to each side? My paint brush feels heavy from all the paint it has collected, and I just noticed that I have been hook gripping the handle this whole time.
Am I a coach, or am I a weightlifter? Will my back ever let me be the athlete I have grown to love over the years? I miss Jon North, I miss the freak athlete that gave myself more confidence and energy than anything ever has. My gym is coming alive as I am dying. The gym is becoming clean as I build rust. Yes, I have built a fresh new life around me. The gym is filled with rolling hills covered in green grass, and trees the stretch across the gym roof as if they were creating a bridge of branches that hold a crossing for those who walk by without noticing the underground world of weightlifting that lies beneath the shadows. My knuckles bloody from frustration, my forehead wrinkled from thought, my legs heavy from standing, my back hurt from 7 years of training.
The sound of the paint dripping off the paint brush wakes me out from my trance. I chug a muscle milk with little finesse, noticing my forearms have a lot of blond hair on them. The sun has drawn down creating an orange glow that has pierced through the gym and into the lobby in front. This orange world reminds me of a blog I wrote some time ago called "The Orange Room". One of Shankle's favorites, I might add. Yes, I miss training with Shankle, but I mostly miss writing with him. Computers back to back, no words spoken besides the occasional, "How's it going? Good, how about you? Good".
I am in my third day of training full time. AM sessions and PM sessions. Wow, I am out of shape. I didn't realize that my absence from the bar the last two months would have affected me this bad. I had a few "day one" come back sessions, but they ended with a hurt back every time. I soon felt like Michael Jordan constantly making the come back but falling short of the big bang. The gun went off, but my feet stuck to the blocks while the others took off like race horses out the gate. The cheers from my corner lowering in volume, and my dreams of making an Olympic team seemed to taste like salt water by the ocean tide. Yes, I am feeling better these days, and yes, I am making my come back. My back seems to be doing alright. The oil leaks down my rusty back at times, but I have just enough juice to keep fighting. One more round, one more round, keep punching, keep your hands up to protect your face. I am lifting more weight everyday, this is the program I am on. Lift more than the day before, written by the skeletons that watch me train. I can hear all the coaches throughout my career giving me advice, coaching me, motivating me. This makes me smile to myself at times, as I push my elbows to my knees while sitting and anchor my head toward the ground; I miss them all.
Finally moved into the gym. Finally have all my ducks in a row. My back seems to finally be better. I am tired of talking about the future. I am tired of talking about the what ifs, whens, can't waits, and so forth. I am ready to do. I am ready to walk the walk again. I am ready to start lifting big fucking weight.
Paint Brush 2016