Defining the moments that define us
Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire and The War of Art, would call it the “Resistance.” I just call it the “Beast.”
In late 2012, the “Beast” was a 6’2’’ bearded Scandanavian grappler standing in front of me, scowling with 110% bad intentions. This was my first ever European vacation: the frozen terrain of Poland, having miserably sweat and starved over 15 lbs. of water weight off my already lean frame, representing the US in a timeless battle of athletic prowess. My calves twitched, threatening a full-on cramp. My stomach stirred queasily and I felt an unsettling, but all too familiar feeling of weakness as we locked eyes and coldly shook each other’s hand.
Earlier that same year, the “Beast” was a 106 lbs. kettlebell. Having failed two prior attempts at joining the ranks of Pavel Tsatsouline’s exclusive club of Beast Tamers, considered to be the “men among men” within the strength community, I shuddered at the prospect of collapsing under the titanic iron ball in front of my peers once again. I just couldn’t go through another round of disappointment; the excuses; that sunken feeling of defeat that persisted for days. But here I was, again standing in front of my conqueror.
As I set my stance to face each of my Beasts, I recalled the words my dad would whisper into my adolescent ear before stepping on the wrestling mat. “You put in your time. You did the work. Now go let it fly and let the cards fall where they may.” And with those eloquent words I was freed from the crushing pressure. I forgot about my apprehensions and allowed laser-like focus to replace self-doubt. I entered the realm of the present moment and let it rip.
Note: the video below is of a different match at the same tournament. For those interested, I did win the match against the Scandanavian dude, barely (1-0) and got caught in a knee lock (destroying my LCL) in the process. The video can be found on YouTube, but was much longer.
Physical “Beasts” have always defined my path and always will. But now I find myself in a new arena, with a subtler Beast named “fatherhood.” Amid all the distractions, I continuously seek the clarity, the state of flow required bring the best me to table. To provide for and offer my son some words he can stand on as he enters the world.
We all have our strengths, weaknesses, and calls of duty. How we choose to approach them is all that matters. We either do the work or we yield to the resistance, allowing the Beasts to conquer us. Here’s my advice:
Identify your Beast, no matter how big or small.
Don’t succumb to the Resistance. Do the work.
Find clarity and let it rip, over and over again.
Tame the Beast, or die trying.
In strength and balance,
CSCS / SFG / FMS
Co-Founder + Trainer