This weekend is the midpoint of 2022 – July 2nd to be exact – and I’ve been reflecting on how fast time seems to be flying by this year. Interestingly, I named 2022 the Year of Balance back in January and upon review, the balanced life as I envisioned it in January has since been flipped upside down. In fact, it has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, with the pump of adrenaline and exciting highs, and then the gut-wrenching, knocked me down to my knees humbled, questioning life’s choices and the (lack of) decency of humanity. If there was ever a time I have been “slapped” back into reality of needing to reflect and find stillness, it is now.
So far, this year has already taught me some very valuable lessons:
Lesson #1: learn to truly enjoy the process and all the other things will fall into place. As an athlete, it’s one thing to commit to the process of training; we choose to become a slave to the process if we want to be a better or even a good athlete. We know that the grind of training day-in and day-out is not always “fun” but we do it because we want to master the skill(s) we are trying to build. The journey is not easy because of the sacrifices we make, not just to our physical bodies but also the mental game it takes to trust the process, to keep going and doing the best we can each time we enter the gym (or just making it to the gym at all). And unless you’re getting PRs regularly (who does that, not me!??!!), progress is rarely visible if at all. The question becomes whether the grind is worth it especially when we don’t do well in a competition or if other things need to be a priority rather than training that day or that week. It’s one thing to know what we have to do, and commit to it, it’s another thing to be in the now and to enjoy being in it. I tried something slightly different in training while preparing for Masters Nationals this year. Since COVID, training and competing had been horrible for me. I needed to commit to the training and I was determined to have a good meet. Part of this decision was to not cut weight for the meet. Oddly enough, I had to learn to be okay with this decision. It was not as easy as I thought since I was only 2.5 kilos away from making weight, and I was beating myself up for not being disciplined enough. But I wanted to focus on having a good meet even if I competed at a higher weight class. In short, mission accomplished. Masters Nationals 2022 turned out to be great for me (mentally). I was focused. I was calm. And I had fun! I needed this so much. As a result, I’ve been learning how to enjoy the training process. I’m not focused on fixing my technique or putting more weight on the bar, the goal is simple: enjoy that lift or that complex. I’ve applied it to my power snatch and power clean – which I previously hated because I was not that good at them. Funny enough, because I learned to enjoy powers, I improved my timing and technique, and I PR’d both my power snatch and power clean by the end of the 4 week program!
Lesson #2: Even if you do all the right things, you cannot escape fate or whatever God has planned. I’ve tried very hard to live a virtuous life in accordance with my values, with purpose, with integrity, etc. When I decide to make new friendships or get into new relationships, I do so purposefully and with intention. I take care of my physical body as best as I can with physical activity and exercise, and a decent diet (okay maybe only 80% of the time but still). I do it not only because I enjoy the activities but because I know it’s good for my physical and mental health. There is so much life I have yet to live and experience. And yet, no matter what I do, how cautious I may be before allowing myself to be vulnerable to another person, no matter how much chicken and broccoli I eat, fate or God has other plans. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it! All I know is that it isn’t within my control… and I simply have to find a way to get through it. I allowed myself some time to recover, but in the end, I decided not to become a slave to the heartache and the worst-case-scenario mentality. To get through it, Isimply returned to the fundamentals – find my routine, and breathe in, breathe out. I reverted back to the “chop wood carry water” mentality.
Lesson #3: Choose to let go. Don’t fight for closure. Don’t seek explanations. This is the hardest thing of all. But in order to find balance in my life this year, I must learn to let go. So, I choose to just be… be in the now – to continue living my life virtuously – to do what I say I will do, to do it purposefully. I will choose to not fight for closure. And I choose not to search for explanations no matter how hard it is for a curious person like me, searching for the “why” or how to prevent the next time it happens. I choose to accept what is. This is not say I accept it with mere passivity, but merely understanding that life must goes on with all of its consequences.
Furthermore, I choose to enjoy it with all the highs and the lows, all the joys of love and kindness as well as all the unexpected twists of gut-wrenching heartaches and fears of the unknown. This is the journey of life.
What fills me with hope for the rest of the year is knowing that I am free from the slavery of other’s expectations, free of worry of the unknown, free of seeking closure or explanations. If you are a [potential] cancer to life, I will cut you from my life. How I choose to do that will always be my way, with a very thorough evaluation, with purpose and intention, and most importantly with kindness (even if it is not reciprocated). What I choose to be a slave to is my choice. And it will not be to things I cannot control, the fear of the unknown, societal (or other’s) expectations, etc… This is freedom. And I remain so ever grateful for the reminders that life brings my way.