People are faliable and weak. So am I, as I can be grouped in with the company I just described. When we are challenged, we can be fragile and wispy, torn away from the promises weve made by the lightest of breezes. Throughout my tenure in the military, Ive made and lost great friends, courted acquaintences with numbing cordiality, and endured inexhaustible, seemingly random hatred. Ive been ostracized from groups because of my beliefs, my attitude, and the way that I carried myself. Thankfully there were always people to fall into the arms of, but I learned early on to be self-reliant. The harsh truth is that the vast majority of those you meet are wearing masks. They put on a facade of friendship, carrying along suitably as long as your companionship benefits them. As soon as you are of no use, they eschew you, shedding you like dead skin. You have two choices when confronted with this temerity. You can either fall into debasing, embarassing self-pity, or you can accept the situation for what it is, adapt, and, most importantly, resolve to never, ever become like the dregs you had the misfortune of cohorting with. Most are of miniscule temperament and character and choose the former. I, having no time or inclination towards politics, embraced the latter. And so my journey begun.
It was a Saturday, sometime in the month of July. The deck rolled and tossed beneath me, my wrists flexing powerfully to prevent me from falling left, then right, and back again. My fingers dug into the ground to prevent my body from lurching forward, my legs becoming dead weight. I bent my arms at the elbows, my vestibular system running amok, labouriously attempting to keep my coherence intact as fresh blood rushed to my brain. With strenuous effort, my nose touched the floor, and I smiled as I pushed myself back up. I was back in a handstand against the lockers by my rack with one rep down. 27 more to go. Fast forward 15 minutes and workout 1 of 3 was completed. My breathing, hastened and rushed before, began to abate as my heart calmed. 80 handstand pushups done in less than 20 minutes, a personal record, albeit one that would be completed 2 more times that day, ad nauseum, until we hit port in the intervening weeks. As I changed and climbed the ladderwell to the head, where I would shower, I caught my own reflection and flexed with pride at what I had accomplished. I was 167 last checked, lean, muscular and strong. To think all of this, the path my life had taken, was inspired by the desire to prove a girl wrong. As the water ran over me and I basked in the few minutes of serenity and privacy allotted to any Sailor, enlisted or Officer, I thought of how my workouts were both my savior and addiction, my stimulant and opiate. They saved me when I was attacked in my berthing spontaneously by an overzealously aggressive idiot, and had saved the jaw of one particularly sadistic MDMAA on the Mess Decks from being wired shut. I thanked God for them and for what He had blessed me with. My reveries and contemplations were soon cut short by my friend ripping my curtain open and, dick firmly in hand, swinging his member around like a lasso. I stood there aghast and disgusted, before laughing and shoving him into the wall, freeing him to repeat his form of performance art for the next unwilling spectator a few shower stalls over. A bell rang, signalling 1830's arrival. I sighed and began to dry off, longing for more free time. Deployment would be over in a few short months, and reality would once again encroach. Until then, I had to train again at midnight.
In Virginia, San Diego, Bahrain and Pensacola, there were days where I would lock myself in a room, read, drink tea and do handstand pushups. All day and well into the night. I love the exercise so much that Ive even got it tattooed on my right forearm, a kind of totem and spirit animal. When solitude is a steadfast suitor and the odds of finding kinship are similar to flopping a Royal Flush, my training was there. When I was 18, fresh from school and ignorant to the world, my high school sweetheart left me. I was shy, timid, and unobtrusive. Then I rediscovered the gym. Some nights, when my social anxiety would overcome, but never defeat, me, I would drive to 24 Hour Fitness and superset pushups and pullups for hours. A key lesson ingrained into my mind by blunt experience and my muscles by brutal effort was that even if I didnt know what to say, my body could speak for me. For a long time thats what I relied on. I became stoic, withdrawn, and nasty. I worked to put up an intimidating facade because I was afraid of being ridiculed and dismissed by the world. I was angry, lonely, and melancholy. But my workouts, my training, my exercises were still there. They would always be there, like God, which is why I approach them so passionately and regard them so reverently.
I dont like to train with people. I may work in with friends every once in a while, especially on leg day, but I generally field requests and invitations to workout with others as painstankingly as an aide at the White House examines the President's mail. People dont get the way I train, and thats fine with me. This is my thing, my temple, the altar at which I worship. Through training I become at ease with myself, assert my strength and relevance to the world around me, and continually rejuvenate my lust for life in its myriad forms. Answers sought to the big questions reveal themselves miraculously whilst driving up out of the hole until your arms are locked clean, and elation is the product of another set finished, another dream fulfilled. A set that leaves your body shaking, brutalized and, above all, satisfied, is akin to orgasm, often times better, unless love is involved. And there's love in every rep, set and workout, so the majority of women had better work hard and catch up. Ive never passed up a training session for a girl, and I never will. Life can eradicate your confidence if you let it. Words unspoken and misinterpreted can unravel already tenuous bonds. But training can help you realize that, rather than agonizing over realigning the warped threads, you shouldve broken them yourself, pulling them from the soil of your spirit like poisonous, cancerous roots. It will remind you of your true potential, and of your rightful place in this world. Its never too late to start, and theres never a reason to quit. Rigor Mortis sets in when a person dies, as the glycogen in their muscles is finally exhausted, and, with lack of blood flow, they become stiff as boards. Dont be a corpse with a barely discernable heartbeat. Move. I know I am. Its time to train.