Touchy Feely

Touchy Feely

Nov 1, 2013

IMG_1621Touchy Feely

 

 

By Josh Hunt

 

 

 

For those that don’t know, I usually write about things that are happening in my life.  I have been feeling a lot of things lately, so there is a need that I have to express these feelings. Don’t worry I am not on my deathbed, nor am I in a deep depression, listening to Bayside and sleeping for days at a time; I just want to take this opportunity to figuratively remove a weight from off my chest.

 

I have been involved in competitive sports for as long as I can remember.  Looking back on my almost 25 years of competing in one way or another there is something that that strikes me as odd, and that is emotion is never really discussed directly.  There are numerous articles written by and about athletes that go into great detail about emotive things like; drive, desire to win, fire, grace in defeat, and so on.   But, emotion itself is seldom discussed in an honest and candid manner.  This is strange because at the core of it, competition, like most things we do, is all about emotion.  There is joy in doing it (or at least there should be), hope, despair, anger, and all the other emotions that are part of what makes us human.  I am not exactly sure as to why this is the case.  Maybe it’s because of some macho bullshit principles that “meatheads” like us live by, or possibly it’s because we feel like we’ve been conditioned not to talk about matters of the heart, or maybe I am just thinking about it too hard.

 

I think this is a problem.  Restricting our emotions marginalizes our humanity.  Sports are important, but there is so much more to life than who can run the fastest, lift the most weight, or refine our physical skills enough to be better than the other person.  Speaking for myself, training has helped me to get where I am now, and I will continue to use it as therapy.  I have thrust myself into the gym in order to combat depression and loneliness. I have used working out in order to mitigate my inadequacies and anger. I have even used my own sweat and tears in the confines of dark, dingy, weight-rooms in order to make sense of the world.  Sports can be a stopgap and sometimes a solution to ill feelings and a reason to celebrate life.  These are very important things, very human things.  Without outlets we can drive ourselves mad, or emotionally beat ourselves up in ways that only the sickest of minds could concoct. On the flip side these events, victories, and the associated camaraderie have the ability to give us a gleam of hope in a sometime bleak landscape that we call modern life.

 

Lately, I have felt a bit out of sorts.  It seems that there has been a lack of interest by others in a number of things that I find important and several situations that have cause me heartache.   In the recent past I have felt; stood up, let down, shown that my time is not valuable, and hurt emotionally in other ways. I am not going to attack anyone for causing these ill feelings. Many times I am hurt or upset because of my own state of mind and/or the unfair expectations that I project on others or that I have for myself.  However, this has got me thinking, why do many athletes refuse to talk about this important subject and how can we work to change this?  I can only imagine that on one’s deathbed there are only a few things that truly matter. I can think of three questions a person might ask himself or herself as they try to prepare themselves for the final curtain call with the Grim Reaper.  These questions are: what type of life did I live, what impact did I have on the world, and how did I treat others and how did they treat me? All of these important questions tie directly into emotion, whether it is your own or someone else’s. And I think it is safe to say that sport, training, and the people who share your time and support you, have a direct impact on these fundamental questions.

 

As stated earlier, training is important to me emotionally.  Without it many times I feel like I would have lost myself.  There is something about the release that exercise can facilitate that can alleviate so much pain.  Aside from the actual act of powerlifting, there are a number of things that I feel the need to discuss that allow a person to live an expressive life.   I spend a lot of time with my training partners, and a lot of time in the gym and to be honest I think we are pretty much in tune with each other’s emotional states (although some of the guys would never admit it).  The gym is a place where you really get to know someone, you don’t have to put on the “work facade” and be political and well spoken, you don’t have to be the social butterfly talking to everyone at the bar, or whatever other mask one might wear.  To be honest I sometimes think that in the gym you see a person in a very genuine way.  Not only that but you are working to become better, and help others attain their goals as well.

 

I can’t thank my training partners (and other close friends) enough for being there for me.  Not just because one cannot be a powerlifter on their own due to the need for advice, lift off’s, spots, and helping each other into gear; but, for actually being there for me as a person.  There are people that I train with that know me very well.  I can pretty much tell them everything and anything.  They know when I am down and they have the gumption to slap me in the face and tell me there is weight to be lifted and that I need to pull my head out of my ass and get to work.  Now, before dismissing this as unemotional manly crap and accuse me of being hypocritical there is a function in this.  Training gives me focus, and allows me to temporarily forget my problems in life. This release gives me the break I need many times to re-evaluate my stance on the problem and either figure out a way to cope with it or shrink it due to a mental reframing. These are the same guys who know the importance of sport and what it can do to a person physically, mentally, and emotionally.  These men also pull me aside after a workout and are willing to grab a beer or go get some Chinese food to discuss what is eating at me and support me emotionally.  They are willing to spend their time and effort being there for me, whether it’s to provide support, give advice or just listen.  This brotherhood is something that one cannot put a price on.  Its value is much deeper than adding a few extra pounds onto one’s squat.

 

Additionally, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a constant in your life.  When it feels like the world is coming down around you and everything is falling apart it’s wonderful to come in the gym and get called a dickhead.  This may sound weird to some people, but anyone that has ever wanted normality when the shit has hit the fan, knows what this means.  In the gym a person can feel in control.  Training is something that you should always have control of.  You dictate how much time you carve out for it, how many reps to do, how much weight to load and so on.  This can feel amazing in times where one feels there is no control in life, when friends get sick, when a girlfriend dumps you, when work sucks.  The weight room and training offers some form of say when one feels unheard.  Aside from this, lifting (or training in general) is usually something measurable. You know if you hit a three rep personal record. You can touch the bar and feel the weight; you can allow all of your senses to engage as the bar moves up and down.  This is a stark contrast to other things in life that are more nebulous.  One cannot measure how a “significant other” feels about a decision made, there is no ruler for the amount of effort put into a friendship, there is no unit for the feelings that crop up when rejected.

 

We all live in a world that can be cold and uncaring.  We also all have sensitivities, dreams, and feelings.  I believe we need to get away from sheltering ourselves and become more emotive and open.  Walling ourselves off protects us from hurt, but also makes it impossible for visitors to come in.  We can become cold and callous, and really the world does not need any more cynicism.  I suggest we start to think about what makes us feel, even training. As the title of this article is touch feely I realize these concepts aren’t the easiest to talk about or to even think about, but I am trying to come out of my shell and this is helping me.   I want to be a better human, and to do so I must be more open. I suggest we all take a second and thank the people that matter in our lives.  With that I’d like to thank some people for being there for me in training and in emotional support, helping me, and listening to me in hard times.  I realize this list in incomplete and I apologize if I slighted anyone, but if you have seen me cry consider me family.

 

 

Thank you,

 

Brady and Beth

Scotty and Robin

Brad and Sarah

Brandon and Jessica

Pat and Fi

Tony and Julia

Vic

Lynelle

Shane

Shaun

Scott

Dana

Duane

Shiva

Ray

Rob

Tom

Jeff

Randy

Mitch

Mesa

Keith and Cheese

Mom and Dad

-Are you comfortable with the skin you’re in?

Are you screaming loud enough to be important?

Are you following the path that you thought you would or wouldn’t? – 36 Crazyfist.

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2 comments

  1. Robin Hayes /

    Well said, Josh. So proud of you.

  2. Same here brother! My life is better for knowing you and being your friend.

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