Zealotry

Or, not having an open mind. Zealots of all sorts have always annoyed me. Religious zealots, Mac zealots, CrossFit zealots, you name it. I admit I went through a CrossFit zealot phase. I call it evangelism stage 1, when you think it’s the coolest thing ever and try to push it on anyone who will listen, even if it’s clearly not a good fit.
Difference being, I grew out of it. I actually get quite sick of talking about CrossFit sometimes. Sometimes. But I usually don’t bring it up any more, except maybe to make a point or a comparison. I no longer argue with people when they try and tell me about their diet or how they eat. If people are curious, and ask me, I will tell them. But I’m over pushing my religion onto other people.
To each his own. We all do different sports for different reasons, and each is unique and wonderful in its own way. I have tremendous respect for trail runners and triathletes and pole vaulters and karate black belts. I do. What all serious athletes share is a dedication to the sport, to taking more from it than what it takes from you, to leaving your personal sh*t at the door when you go to train. Like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the ‘best’ sport is a personal question.
I mean … I get that you think your way is best. And there are probably very good reasons why you think that way. But there are many ways to skin a cat.
Fundamentalist people who don’t think are just like sheep. You can tell them anything. But on the other hand, how bad are the rest of us most of the rest of the time, just sitting around waiting for a leader to tell us what to do or spur us into action? Why do we revere the teacher so much? The master? The gravitas comes from …. Where? From within, or do we endow it on the individual? Or both?
Same concept goes for business. One attribute I am continuously working towards is keeping an open mind. Not committing the ad hominem. Accepting when my opinion is maybe wrong when confronted by data that doesn’t meet my expectations. Letting people voice disagreements. Changing my mind when it’s warranted. Changing tactics when that’s warranted. Even giving up and moving on, and not worshipping sunk costs.
I like to learn as much as I can, try things out, see what works. Test. Evaluate. Conclude. Repeat. Not as structured as this, of course, but this is how we learn, and we of course learn more from our failures and pains than our accidental successes. Life is one fiery cauldron. But I believe in, and practice, a mixture of religions. CrossFit and qigong. Lynotherapy and acupuncture. MBA and social change. These are strange bedfellows. To me, it makes sense; I absolutely love the mixture of east and west, hard and soft, practical and ideal. But what works for me won’t necessarily work for others.
Interestingly enough, we also fear the teacher. I think because he or she is going to evaluate us. Not the same as judgement, but close enough to be scary. If you can break me down physically and mentally and reconstruct me so my mind and body are significantly stronger, I’d do it.
Right? Or would I be too scared of my coach seeing me in that broken down state, the lowest of the low? I guess it depends on how badly you want it.
Had great conversations with Henk at the Bromwell and Jaco at Mama Rosie’s, both of which, while very different in content, paralleled each other well because the difficult thing isn’t doing things. It’s really all about people, relationships, living life, knowing which things to do, and following through. What path to take: where to live, where to work, what sport to choose, what to eat, how to balance work/training/life, who to be friends with, who to have a relationship with, when to leave a relationship. How life trains you to the degree that you let it, and how 22 year-olds can be more mature than 32 year-olds.
I think at the end of the day, you kind of know. Somewhere deep inside you know what’s going to be right even if you haven’t fully comprehended it in your prefrontal cortex, if you haven’t yet explained it to yourself. I figured out something this week that was bothering me, and it was an intense relief. I always want to understand what I see going on around me and when I don’t get it and it’s important to me, it bugs. Like it drives me crazy. People are like arches; if something doesn’t fit once you figure out the keystone everything makes sense and it’s beautiful.
Speaking of crazy and beauty, a conversation with my co-worker this week got me thinking about animated Cape Town. Like Cape Town as a graphic novel. Think about all the things that go on in Cape Town (or in any city, really): the family dinners, the rapes, the picnics, the people shooting heroin, the tequila shots, the kung fu training, the informal markets, the blowing out of a candle. The intense dedication to … whatever. Your sport. Your book. Your work. So many separate worlds, literally right next to each other, and yet oblivious to each other.
What would make Cape Town such a great setting for a graphic novel is the smallness of the town, the natural beauty that surrounds us every day, and the start contrast between the bright sun and white walls, especially in summer, and the dark, cold of night. When Cape Town is light, it is hard to see. When Cape Town is dark, it is impossible.
We left Cape Town for the Garden Route on Friday morning. Had a bit of a late start due to Michelle’s birthday dinner at Carne on Thursday. That was a lot of fun. I do love my CrossFit family. I have a good one. More details on the trip in the next post.
I must be doing something wrong, because I keep getting emotionally beat up to the point where I need two [long] vacations a year. That much was clear when I under-performed on a mentally tough workout that is my favourite workout. No matter how much you want to leave your sh*t at the door when you train, it doesn’t quite work that way. And yes, the body is tired and sore and injured …. But that’s not what went bad this week. Fundamentally, what needs the most strengthening is my mind.
My qigong instructor Bridget told me that you only dream when your mind is troubled. If this is true, I don’t know. A few months ago I had a very powerful dream; one that spurred me to take action. To a certain degree I think that interpreting dreams is kind of garbage and I’m no longer a fan of predicting the future, but from another angle, if they are a mirror of our subconscious, then this one may have turned out to be more meaningful even than I thought at the time.
Am I scared? Hell yeah. 
  • “Physio? You look possessed!” – Zaheer
  • “Where are all the A players?” – Henk
  • “I’m sorry but defeating me and then trying to kiss me counts as provocation!” – Ellie
  • “Normal people don’t do this stuff. You know that, right? I’m not the first one to tell you that, right?” – Jaco
  • “They are just glorified vegetables with beaks and wings!” – Jaco
  • “Everyone’s tired anyway but we enjoy it.” – Mama Rosie
  • “You must confront the source.” – Shirfu (seriously, must oracles also speak like oracles?)
  • “I met a coach.” – Amanda
  • “We see not 50% improvement. 100% improvement.” – Amanda
  • “Don’t stop. Don’t hesitate. Just go for it.” – Zaheer
  • “You know that moment when you realise you’ve already decided you’re going to do something?” – Ellie
  • “Once you decide what you’re going to do, there’s no going back for you, it’s a full commitment.” – Lauren
  • “There’s another bottle upstairs. Calm yourself, woman!” – waiter at Carne

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