Saturday, July 25, 2009

Retired Bodybuilder

Last night, I went through an active struggle to get home. The flight was delayed in that horrible way where you're on the tarmac and the pilot says .. "okay, we're off." and then "we're not" and then "okay, don't turn your phones on yet - we're off!" as the thunderstorm slowly rolls in from the north. Luckily, we were off, and it was remarkably comfortable, considering the circumstances (which is Lilac-code for "I hugged my knees and prayed for a good 15 minutes, which is less than it could have been")*

I had just spent 3 days in all-day meetings. ALL DAY. And I had no internet in my hotel room in the evenings, for reasons I cannot explain concisely. And as I settled into my bumpy flight, I noticed someone I knew from 7 years ago in school was sitting across the aisle. He barely knew me, but I recognized him, and it got me thinking.

There was a time when, as a consultant (2.5 years ago, if you're looking for blog posts), these sorts of trips were our forays into battle. You'd gird yourself, and take pride in the stamina, the hunger, the delays, the conference room escapes. More discomfort and madness was more weight on the barbell and you were going to bench press 400. I got strong. It took a LOT to break me, and even then, I prided myself on usually breaking only when it was safe and okay. When i got home. Or when Molson got me drunk on the beach of Ft. Lauderdale. 

Yesterday, hugging my knees thinking of how sad I would be not to share dinner with my fiance - and how hungry I was - I was close to tears. And it wasn't even a hard week! The meetings went well, they were jovial, I slept, I worked out.  Look how easily I was broken! Why? When did I get so weak?

And I realized. Before, I was like those bodybuilders you see on TV. The women who are ripped and waxed and tanned into these beef jerky-like creations, fighting to win a really really ugly trophy. That was me. Career bodybuilder. When I watch them, I think "what could possibly possess you to care enough to go through all that?" And, really, what possessed me? I don't know. I still can't answer that. 

But I am not really ashamed that I cannot benchpress my own weight anymore. I'm strong enough. And the trophy wasn't pretty anyways.



*When you are 5'2" you can hug your knees comfortably on an airplane seat. It's a feature. Overhead bins can be tricky though.


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