benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: LIFTING

THE GREAT EQUALIZER

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men – the balance wheel of the social machinery.”

Horace Mann, 1848

Another great equalizer I’ve recently come to realize, is the traditional bodybuilding gym, where no one cares what I do, how much I make, what my politics are, what my sexuality is, or even how much I can bench press. 

What makes everyone the same, regardless of genetics, race or socio-economic class, is commitment and dedication – showing up everyday, executing a training program, working through pitfalls, and celebrating progress. 

So when a guy I had long idolized, but only exchanged nods in passing acknowledgment, told me that he had admired and enjoyed my piano playing when he had dined at the restaurant a few nights ago, I was even more convinced that the gym could be a great opportunity for this idea of equalization.

Then, he told me that he particularly enjoyed The Phantom of the Opera medley I had performed because he had always loved the soundtrack.

So definitely, education. 

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BE STILL

I should have known better.

But I went in to lift anyway, working through a little sinus congestion and a slight tickle in my throat.

A few days later, I’m lying in bed with a summer cold. 

I find it hard to be still, even though doing nothing at all is sometimes the best solution. 

PLACE

I placed 4th in my class last weekend at the competition.

 

I’m thrilled with how much I’ve improved, and I’m excited to continue with my journey in bodybuilding.

 

However, no matter how big the show, or how well I do, I know my real place.

 

I am loved.

POSE

I have the opportunity this week to play a Nord keyboard, immediately falling in love with its sound and feel.

 

This makes my much less expensive Korg seem completely inadequate, even though it has served me well all these years for off-site and outdoor gigs.

 

Then at the sound check for a wedding ceremony, my fears are dismissed.

 

My trusty keyboard is perfect for me, just the way it is.

 

I am thinking about the Nord as a cocky 18 year-old boy interrupts the posing session with my trainer.

 

He has just completed his first show a few months ago, and eagerly peels off his tank top to demonstrate the areas he thinks I can improve on.

 

As soon as he left, my trainer asks me how I feel.

 

I’m feeling just fine.

 

I am perfectly comfortable with what we have been working on because it reflects who I am as a person.

 

I mean, why should I pose as someone that I’m not?

 

IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT

I’ve been clapping my hands a lot.

9 days out to my second competition and I haven’t cried yet. 

On my first try at this, I already had a few sniffles and two full out melt downs by this time. 

I’m not sure what next week will bring.

But this one has been a rough one with work politics. 

I’m not saying I wasn’t pissed off or frustrated. 

I just kept clapping my hands and holding on to my happiness.

And counting my blessings. 

COOL

When my coach said that she would be going out of town for a week on business, I didn’t panic.

 

I stayed cool because I knew that I had been trained well, and conditioned even better, to accomplish the program goals that we had been working on together for the past 6 months.

 

However, when the bride for a wedding this weekend told me on Monday that she had decided to move her ceremony from the shaded gazebo to the outdoor garden at the park venue, I became agitated.

 

At 2pm on a Saturday in July, a typical Michigan afternoon is close to 100 degrees.

 

I was not looking forward to loading my gear in and out, then getting into a three piece suit, and playing in this heat.

 

I just checked the weather report.

 

It’s going to be a cool 79 degrees tomorrow’s wedding.

 

I should have stayed cool all along, knowing that I will always be provided the means to sparkle at my brightest.

 

 

HARD AND SOFT

A very drunk woman said the nicest thing.

 

“His body is so hard but his touch on the piano is so soft.”

 

And just like that, I found the way back to myself, realizing that I can be many things at one time.

 

I can be assertive, but act kindly.

 

I can be independent, but express vulnerability.

 

I can be intuitive, but think rationally.

 

I can be courageous, but be humble.

 

I can be grateful, but have pride.

 

I can be loud, but always listen, quietly.

 

SPEAK LOW

When she got off the elevator, she went straight to the bathroom.

What I found out later is that she went to the bathroom to cry.

Which made it look like I had said something completely awful to her.

Truthfully, I could have said it in a much nicer way; to not lean over the piano lid In the nook of the instrument when I’m working.

But instead, I said, “Don’t stand there because you are neither a bass player nor a singer.”

Lesson learnt.

And I apologize in advance for this and any other unkind words I might say for the remainder of competition prep.

RATCHET AND TRIFFLING

I finally sat down and learnt Come Rain Or Come Shine and The Man That Got Away, two Harold Arlen tunes that I have always loved but didn’t have either the technical understanding or the musical focus to access until recently.

I also successfully completed, with ease, a German Volume Training sequence of 10 sets of 10 reps of squats at 135lbs, that I failed at, miserably, a few months ago.

So when a nice guy asked me out on a date one night, I was optimistic that it would go a lot better than the awkward string of men I had been meeting lately.

We arrived at the bar at the same time and were both dumbfounded that it was closed, without reason or explanation.

At this point, another much better looking patron showed up, and wondered out loud where he was supposed to go now.

So I suggested another bar, and we all regrouped there.

When the first guy went to the bathroom, I slid my phone over to the second guy and asked for his number, which he programmed into my phone immediately, agreeing that we should, most definitely, meet again.

Then when he returned from the bathroom, I told the first guy that I was tired. He offered to walk me to my car, where we said our goodbyes.

Except that when he drove off, I got out of my car, went back into the bar, and proceeded to spend the rest of the night making out with the second guy, a flight attendant on layover in Detroit.

I may be finally learning the repertoire that once eluded me, and lifting harder than I have before, but some things just haven’t changed all that much.

POWER

I experienced my very first brownout today.

Which meant that I still had a little bit of power coming into my place.

I couldn’t turn on the air conditioning. But I could take a shower in the half dim lit bathroom.

More importantly, all my weekly food prep was still being kept refrigerated. And I could even quickly pull out a Tupperware of poached chicken breast to reheat in the microwave as my pre-work meal, like I do everyday.

So my gratitude quickly turned into full fledged annoyance and irritation when a quick text to a neighbor on break between sets at work led to the information that we had digressed to a complete blackout.

Without power, I couldn’t do my daily morning run on the treadmill, and my eating schedule for training would be completely disrupted.

And as I sit here writing this on my phone to post on the blog, on another set break at work, I just have to take a deep breath.

I may not have electrical power.

But I do have power.

The power to believe in my own ability to make alternative plans.

And the power to trust that I will be provided for, in spite of myself, always.