Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Whiteboard at your local box is....

.....CrossFit's version of the water cooler.

And you are a gossiping, wage-slaving Peter Gibbons trying to figure out how to get out of working on a Sunday.

Admit it.

You're gossiping like crazy.  You're talking shit.  You're looking at those numbers, the numbers of the defenseless, the numbers of those who have been there hours before and long since left for the day.

"225# c&j?  no way."

"5:43??  More like 8:43!"

"Since when does she/he squat that much?"

Everyone is susceptible and no one is above it.  Questioning, analysis and fundamental math skills are functions of living.  We live to question, to view, to analyze, to add, and to subtract.

Humans are also giant shit-heads (some of the time) who live and breathe and die by the sword of gossip.  That is to say, we talk to much about each other: the good, the bad, the ugly, the unmentionable.  It's a process of reassurance and ego-building.  Talking about others reaffirms ourselves, our choices, our actions, and our beliefs.  It's the 'ugly duckling' of around the waist bird floaties designed to keep us above water.  Without it, many of us would drown.

And Now, Back to the Lying Board!!!

It should come as no surprise that some of us will slip-up, falter, waver, cower, tremble under the pressure that is the white board.  To some, the ritualistic process is simple: remember, write.  Working with students who have special needs, I have seen and can imagine situations in which the process of writing down scores, particularly embarrassing scores or below-par scores, would be the cause of a bit of stress and discomfort.  In order to quell this uncertainty and, most importantly, vulnerability, people can (and will) do whatever it takes to snuff out that terrible, awkward, sinking feeling.

We are pride-driven beings.  We use instagram!  We like to, want to (need to?) take pictures of ourselves lifting a weight for the first time, of the beer we drink, of the food we just made, of the sunset that we (and everyone else) just saw outside.  We brag about our personal records.  We're taught and trained and told to focus on these abstract, yet tangible, concepts of achievement and success.  These are not necessarily bad things and I, for the record, can't wait to get my iPhone 5 fully-loaded with instagram because, dude, people need to see what Palos Verdes looks like at sunset.

Even so, in the grand scheme of all that is and was and will be, we often forget to ask: Does it really matter how much weight was on that bar? Does it matter where I finished in my last 'cross race?  Do these things define me as a human?

For some of us it does, which brings us back to the white board.  For you cyclists, think Strava.

The white board, by definition, starts blank.  It brings us all together on a clear and even slate to post achievement.  Your result, your achievement, is on display to the entire world (what? you don't think of your gym as the center of the universe?), and there's nowhere you can hide....

...lest, you fudge.

Fudge Isn't Just for Holidays

The thought creeps into your mind like a late night ice cream binge.  Tired, worked over, beaten down, you grab the marker and scan for your name.

"Please, oh sweet Jesus of the Heavens and Stars, please tell me they forgot to put my name on the board.  Damn, that would be sweet.  Oh, there's my name. Hmmmm.  I'm normally squatting 205, but today was only 165.  That's, like, totally a 190 average."

I Feel Dirty and, I Think They Know

A white lie, a minor sin, to be sure.  Keep in mind, these are crossfit problems (if you forgot, I shall remind you NOW).  Your crossfit problems are not real problems.  Starvation is a real problem.  Poverty, war, racism are real problems.  Getting beat on Thursday night's wod is not a problem, it's called a hobby.

After writing a tale of deceit in pounds and minutes and seconds, you feel whitewashed.  You feel dirty.  So dirty.  Why?  Because, asshole, others know what you did.  They do.  They saw your double-pump with the marker.  They saw you writing that 5 deliberately, slowly, until the lines magically connected and it became an 8.  Your muscles, as toned as they are, flexed the slightest bit when you wrote :25 instead of :35.  You gave it all away, and now everyone knows.  You are screwed.  People will definitely judge you from here on out.  People will call you a cheater, people will count your reps while you WOD without telling you, then wait to see what you actually write on the board.  That's probably what you're thinking.

But in reality, people don't (read: shouldn't) care about what you say you did.  People are going about their own business and are, in all likelihood, not comparing themselves to you.  They are trying to be better than who they were yesterday.  Your lack of awareness as to what is truly important in life is a dead giveaway to the depth of your personality and ambition.  

The 400 meter run isn't quite so long.  The ability to disappear into the darkness of night offers a pleasant safety net only to be snatched away as you return to the parking lot.  As light cascades over your body, leaving a multi-directional silhouette on the ground, you sprint in the last 25 meters so everyone thinks you're going full gas.  For shame.  When you short yourself reps, not to scale or save yourself from injury, but to save time, you bring yourself further away from truth, self-awareness, and (as horrible as I feel typing this) inner-peace.

Deal with your failures.  Don't make a parade out of it.  Work it out in your head, on your own time.   You don't have to have an inspirational quote, meme, or song to go with every single mistake you make, inspiring yourself to do better.  

But if you did, take one from Gandhi:

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, 
not in the attainment, 
full effort is full victory.”

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