“Somebody got to pay.”
This is part of a quote from one of my favorite movies ever: Wall Street and it popped into my mind as I started writing this blog. This past week was a tough one for all of us at the gym culminating in the funeral of our friend Jacob Holmes. His send-off at Bethel A.M.E., the church where his father was pastor, was pretty awesome with laughs, tears, lots of singin’ and good sermons. At one point, I did lean over to Ryan and say: “I’m going out Viking style. Burn me up and have drinks to celebrate the good, the bad and as my friends can attest, the really, really ugly”. Ryan asked me what body of water they should use and I said to get a kiddie pool and put the funeral pyre over it. Light me up and send me on my way…
But I digress. I really want to talk about all that I have been contemplating this past week. Here goes.
Early in life, when we are kids, we have lots of laughs, good times and bad times. The lessons we learn mostly are how to avoid the bad times. We avoid “real” death at funerals. The reality of the end is seemingly unbelievable and most young brains are not ready for this inevitability. We grieve but we don’t really understand the totality of death, at least I did not as a youngster. We have pain but it is just the way we perceive it at that time. We really don’t understand it fully. I spent all of my life clamming up and locking down when people died or were gravely ill. My first instance was my grandmother. She was an awesome grandma who spoiled my brother and I when she could. (Weird side note but my first instance of “granny boobies” was when I mistakenly went in her room without knocking. So, when that joke is said, I think of her and laugh!!!) I loved her dearly and still do. We moved a lot so we would see her for year or so early in my childhood when my father took off to Korea during his time in the service. My last year of high school, my father was retiring and sent us back home to my birthplace of Indiana. For me this was great, I knew everyone and I was the new kid in town enjoying all the victories of the new kid in town (you guys know what I mean wink, wink.) but I still knew almost everyone. My grandmother had moved about an hour away with my Aunt Madie so she still lived close but not right around the corner. I had a car (well most of the time, it died half way through my senior year until I rebuilt the engine) and was running wide open the entire year. I worked for my Aunt and Uncle cleaning their trailer for gas and beer money (my Aunt had a zillion birds and my main duty was cleaning their cages weekly. The love birds hated me and squawked at me nonstop). When I say wide open I mean all that you can imagine, non-stop. I don’t know how I graduated honestly or lived in some cases.
But during this time my grandma would ask my Mom about me and why I wouldn’t come see her. As much as I loved her, I could not stop long enough in my selfishness to go see her. When I graduated, my father had still not moved up with us and changed his mind about staying in Indiana. Part of it was finding work and I think part of it was his own selfishness not to leave South Carolina and his friends. So, we packed up and took off back to SC after I graduated. I don’t remember who we said goodbye to except my Aunt and Uncle. I honestly never forgave myself for that either. She died a year or so later. At the funeral, everyone was crying except one of my cousins who just stood there shaking his head. I did not cry either. I clammed up and shut down with guilt and shame about not going to see her for decades.
Fast forward to the mid 2000’s. I was killing it as a powerlifter and trainer. I had as many clients as I wanted to keep me powerlifting (that was my only real job to me at the time). I felt like I had risen up from the ashes I had wallowed in since childhood, I was my own personal phoenix story. One of my clients was Larry Powell, he had severe rheumatoid arthritis to the point he was not supposed to live past 16 years old but here he was, in his 50s, taking many beatings from me. I trained his wife Tammie first and it took some time to convince him that he could lift weights at all. But once he started coming to the gym, he loved every second. I would modify exercises because his hands would not allow him to grip much. His feet were knotted terribly and he hobbled. Honestly everything on his body was knotted. But GD, he never backed off and hated every second I had to modify things for him. He talked shit back to me so consistently that I turned it up the training temp on his ass daily. Larry was an engineer at a paper mill for decades and argued with me daily about how the parking lot surface was the same no matter which way we dragged the sled or pushed the prowler. Our parking lot has mild grades on it and I know ALL the ups and downs, where it stuck to the pavement, how the weather played changed the friction and which way was harder to pull or push depending on what you were using. He argued that these variables made no difference even after I watched him take his beatings out there. He never relented on that fact that pavement is pavement and nothing changes its dynamic, which to this day still makes me laugh. As the years went on, he went back to school and worked after his mill retirement. He stopped coming as much and after while I rarely saw him. He always had heart issues and they finally caught up with him he passed. He was a tough old bastard and I loved him too. But at the time, I was not ready to face the fact that he was gone and did the same thing at his services. I clammed up, locked down and avoided it like it was not real, even though I knew he was gone.
There are other stories like my Cousins Junior and Joyce. They were more like my Aunt and Uncle and were awesome and I loved them dearly. They were fantastic people who cared for everyone. When each of them died (just months apart) my history repeated itself under these circumstances and I shut down. But, eventually the toll has to be paid. With Jacobs passing, a large portion of the chickens came home to roost. All of these memories have flooded me all week and still are. I know some is age related but I also know you just got to look this shit in the eyes and deal with it. That is the hard thing to say. Much of what I feel is just shame and guilt. Sometimes I think that I have come to terms with these feelings but I still catch myself in sadness and some tears. You always wish you knew then what you know now. The reality is it was just my fear of the unknown and my inability to face it. I have spent a good deal of time hunting this side of me down so I can deal with it. Through powerlifting into the unknown and more recently Be Activated, hours of massage therapy, endless solitary hours doing sled and prowler, self-help books of ALL types and mantras. All the things I have done have certainly helped me. One metaphor I have always used is the “shit sandwich”. We all have them. Sometimes you just have to take your shit (in my case guilt and shame over not being there for people I loved), make a sandwich out of it and take a big ole bite. Your shit sandwich always tastes good to you, because it is yours and yours alone, but at some point and time you do have to understand it is a shit sandwich! It is a shit sandwich that you have made up over the years and that at any time you can stop eating it. I have made progress as stated earlier and it is possible that my shit sandwich is now a shit slider (a mini shit sandwich). Still there but smaller now and a known admitted quantity.
The moral here is there, well there is no moral except: Say goodbye to your friends and loved ones when they leave, tell them you love them when they are still here, try not to be a jerky jerk all the time, eat some cookies, have fun doing whatever you have to do and if you want to do something else, go do it.
- Suspension strap planks with some fall out pauses.
- MAG handle pulldowns 8×8
- Bell rows 6×8 per arm
- Bandbell Press 8×5, Couple down sets
- 1 lap med heavy prowler
- 2 laps light prowler
Activations with 1 lap med heavy prowler
- Activations with planks
- Pulldowns many
- 1 lap prowler med heavy
- Activations with bird dogs and plank woek
- 3 laps prowler
- 1 lap prowler
- Belt squat 8×8 worked on breathing through entire sets
- Lot of weird shit: back crawl with 25lb plate-one long run, Used crash mat to do walks on knees with a plate, Reverse lunges onto mat with plates