I’ve always had a hard time with respect. Specifically, because I feel respect must be earned. But even when I respect someone I sometimes kind of forget that respect … not that I’m trying to be disrespectful; just that I’m paying insufficient attention.
It’s one of the things that I love about the martial arts center: the ingrained respect for instructors, for the training area, for the traditions, for the family. The training floor as sacred space.
Someone pointed out to me that he likes the feel of the studio because its character is quite strong. You walk in and there’s a good chance someone is reading from a huge textbook of Chinese medicine. There’s probably someone meditating somewhere. The bedside manner may be a little bit cold to the uninitiated, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Neither is CrossFit. I like extremes. Both intimidated me at the beginning but I pushed through, and I’m glad for it.
Culture comes from the top. Respect is a give & take, if it’s right, and mutual (“It’s all sparring; it’s all kung fu” … still my favourite quote of the year I think!). I’ve been noticing recently who bows to who, who bows to me. It’s something between respect, greeting, and acknowledgement of a relationship. The little things, the subtle signs, to me are more flattering and meaningful than the big bold gestures. Quality over quantity. It’s the fireman with the kitten, the big strong guy with the soft underbelly, the guy who could kill me in 10 seconds flat but has a touch as gentle as a feather. Yin and yang, I guess?
It’s also … this is a new family that I’m growing into. I was at a braai Friday night with the Ballistix Fitness crew, and I was very tired and not feeling that well but was looking at the different people with affection. Hes, with her beautiful features. Ryan, with the wisps of white in his curly hair. Norman, smiling and playing with someone else’s child. Beautiful people, inside and out.
The next morning, after a workout of death, we headed back to Cape CrossFit for an Olympic lifting clinic by Jean Greeff, who is going to the Olympics in a few weeks. Jean is such a sweetie, I love this kid to pieces. And I’m happy because probably 80% of my problems with cleans and power snatches can be fixed by practicing my pulls. But anyway before we started I was looking at the boys just playing around and warming up and my heart was swelling with love. These are my boys, my brothers, my family (there are girls in the family too, just fewer of them, unfortunately). They are silly boys, and overly dramatic boys, but they’re my boys, damn it, and I love them.
I’ve probably said it before but when I went out to do that dumbbell snatch it was just as much for JP, Andrew, Jobst, and Grant than it was for me. They cared about it just as much as I did but had no ability to control the situation and I wasn’t going to let them down.
But same. I look at Anna with that same love, like she’s my sister, and this makes me very happy. Talking to Amanda is like talking to an older version of myself. And of course, the multi-dimensional relationship with the men; it still makes me a bit insecure sometimes when I don’t know why it is that people respect me. Well, it’s hard to know just how we look through other peoples’ eyes. We see what we want to see. We see what we are looking for, what we are hoping for. Sometimes, we also see the truth. Sometimes these things all align. Sometimes we let something slip out of our mouth or give something away with a gesture or a vignette or a particular look: of love, of lust, of disgust, of exasperation. If you know someone well enough that you’ve penetrated beneath the majority of their defences and you still just absolutely love them and respect them, and they you: that’s something precious.      
Love, like, respect: three different things. There are a lot of people that I like, and feel affection for, but there are a much smaller number who I truly respect. Even this is a compromise; I can respect you in one way and not in another. But the same goes for myself: there are some things about myself that I respect, and some other things that I do not, and those are the ones I am working on. Kaizen. If we’re not continually trying to make things (ourselves, our relationships, our work product) better … well the alternatives aren’t as nice are they?
Speaking of making things better: my rest period started Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a rest period this long since I started CrossFit, and the best part about it actually is my mindset, which is not resentful but I’m actually looking forward to it. At the moment I’m enjoying my general soreness, because it’s going to be a while before I feel this way again.
The other thing I guess is how often we can assume that other people pick up on what we’re putting out there. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t of course. Sometimes both people know exactly, and having things remain unsaid is good. Sometimes actually saying what needs to be said is also necessary.
Or sometimes someone says something to you and you realise what a complete and total jackass you’ve been. That’s happened to me a couple of times recently.
Although I’m genuine (or I try to be), and I’m honest (for the most part…), there is definitely a lot that I keep to myself. Susan and I were talking about this; I will often talk and talk and analyse what’s going on around me. It’s almost like a hobby. But there are some things, the deepest, most important things, that are for me, and me only.
Sunday was a beautiful day. I’m absolutely exhausted. I haven’t been getting enough sleep, and have been training. It was actually an interesting insight, because I am normally eating and sleeping so well that training is just part of the routine. To train on insufficient sleep made me realise just how much all that other stuff matters. It’s one thing to know it intellectually, another to feel it.
But I was chilling. I’d spent the weekend with people I love, doing things I love: training, wine tasting, braaing, and then out on Saturday night drinking with some of the guys from CCF. A new half to the year is starting. I’m nearly healed, finally. I did heavy front squats without pain or pressure on Friday, and it was glorious. I hadn’t fully realised the degree to which this was holding me back, but I miss being able to throw myself at whatever the workout is with 100% intensity. It has been a good lesson for me, the increased focus on body awareness while tired, but it’s time to move on. I’m so ready to be back in fighting shape.
I wound up sitting on Camps Bay beach for over an hour texting on my phone and just enjoying the moment, and where I am right now, physically, mentally, emotionally. When we were driving back into Cape Town in the rain after the road trip, it felt like we were entering a huge metropolis, which I guess it was compared to where we had been.
But it’s such a small city, where you’re two degrees of separation from pretty much any local celebrity. Where you watch your coworker’s stunning wife who is the lead in an opera and then nearly get locked in the theatre because you’re there so late talking. Where you see one of the guys on the rugby on TV, and he looks familiar, and that’s because you actually did meet him once. Where you have a pop star, a rock star, two Olympic athletes, and a member of Parliament among your Facebook friends. Where you can’t go to the Biscuit Mill without running into people you know. Where your friend drinks with Jack Parow. Where you’re so next level that your groupies have groupies.
I’m feeling pre-departure nostalgia. It’s not like I’m leaving forever, but I’m experiencing some separation anxiety. I just want to hug everyone, and hold every thing and every moment close to me. One thing I do know: if something feels right, I’m not going to question it or fight it, and will try my hardest not to be afraid of it.
I’m at a fork in the road and I know it. I’m excited about what’s ahead of me, whatever I decide, and whatever that means.
  • “I had your extra bacon, feta, and avo. That’s kinda like dessert.” – Ellie
  • “What a useless ninny is a lovesick man!” – quote from Yeoman of the Guard
  • “The other part is that if I wanted to, I could kill them.” – Susan
  • “Ghalib is the pudding queen!” – Stoffie
  • “F*ck this workout.” – Norman
  • “Wait, is that dog a female?” – Ellie
  • “I don’t let things eat at me. I just … fix them.” – Susan 


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