Am I going to stay up? Or, give up?
Today, I held a two minute plank in a full-flexed, push-up position. I didn’t hold two minutes because I set out to push my own limits of what I could do. I was tricked into staying up by my yogi, Ronn who is the official timekeeper of everything we do in class.
Of course, there were signs that things were not right. My arms were excessively shaking and I had to deliberately contract my abs to support my frame. I theorized that I had miscounted on the number of diverting Happy Birthday songs that I normally compose to people that motivate me, but everyone had all been sung to and we were still up in the hold.
I looked back over my shoulder at Ronn to see what was up and saw him focused on his breathing, totally concentrating in the effort. I was right at the edge of my ability. I felt that I could choose to collapse on a whim. There was nothing left in me to stay with him.
Oh my gosh, I thought, am I going to stay up or give up?
Finally I heard Ronn’s voice, telling me 10 more seconds and then we can come down. I did a last Happy Birthday to myself to fill in the torturous void until I heard him countdown to 1 and then crumbled back into the counter child’s pose.
I snuck a side glance at Ronn and waited.
Two minutes, he said.
Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Yes! I didn’t know that I could do that! I am so excited! I was planning in the back of my mind to work toward a two minute plank over the next month. It was only last Thursday that I was struggling with Bertina at Junior’s Gym with a minute and a half hold.
Ronn had seriously tricked me without warning what was ahead (is that a plank prank?), but I was glad that he had done it on many levels. Primarily, I do believe that good instructors should continue to push their students to ask more of their bodies and also it teaches me to expect more of myself.
I have had a similar epiphany regarding jump roping that now has become a kind of an obsession. One day I was jumping rope 50 reps at home because I had always warmed up that way with Bertina. I wasn’t tired at the end and I thought, well, why not do 100 continuous skips? So I did that and it was more challenging, but certainly within my ability.
A few nights later I thought of how arbitrary the number 100 had been. What was to stop me from doubling it to 200 skips?
There was nothing to stop me but me. I couldn’t do all 200 at once on the first night, but I could finish them with a twenty second break in the middle. Where had the number 200 come from? I thought about how high I wanted to take it and set the bar for 250 continuous reps for my birthday in April. Again an arbitrary number and a random date.
Chris and Bertina have equally impressed upon me the randomness of these goals. We are all capable of so much more than we realize.
Probably with whatever we are doing right here right now, we could double the goal, do it immediately, and be better men and women for it.
What holds us back? Or maybe, I should ask what would drive us forward?
Love? Passion? Sex? Shame? Vanity? Anxiety? Anger?
Does it matter?
I think back to the girl I was when I was a teenager, when I would drill my body endlessly for perfection in the gym and at home. I would tap into pretty much the same motivations that I listed above, but I knew better then what to do with them: push and push, keep pushing, stretch further, bring it into reach. Don’t let anyone walk over me. Just keep pushing ahead to become better, stronger, tougher.
I think back to the boy I loved when he was a teenager, as I would hold my breath watching him walk down the corridor, the most incredible masculine energy I had ever seen. I watched him on the field, the mound and the court. He had it in him. It was natural, raw and pure. That something that set him apart from everyone else in my sight.
I remember that time, when we were lions, and not even we could get in our way.
Before life and people that we let into our home and our heart told us differently, before we allowed them to counter everything that we instinctively knew about ourselves. Before we let them make us into alley cats, scavenging for what we used to hunt for boldly.
We were lions then because we continued to arrogantly move our own targets. Forward. More. Get it. Hunt it. Claim it. Now.
Today, I was tricked into doing more. And I am grateful for the experience. Tomorrow, it’s up to me to move my own target.
The lion would do it instinctively.
that still stirs,