Inspiration

This city I call home is pretty damn amazing when you think about it. I got home very late on a Friday night, and slept as much as was humanly possible.
It was good to be home. Much as I love Johannesburg, and everything else that’s going through my head, it was nice to show back up at Cape CrossFit. It was nice to see everyone, to get goosebumps at the audio selection, and to snatch alongside Grant. Although his snatch is way prettier than mine.
What was nicer, in a way? To have one of the girls in my gym comment on my Facebook check-in that I was looking super strong and it was inspiring to watch me continue to get stronger.
You know how I said above that you can only inspire people who are paying attention? Well, sometimes, apparently, you can be an inspiration without even knowing it. I had no idea she was paying attention to me like this; I was aware of her getting stronger, but it never occurred to me, really, that I was being watched in my own way.
But seriously, it’s a great feeling to provide any sort of encouragement to women to be strong, when our culture doesn’t necessarily encourage this.
It happened again not once, but twice in the week. One day I was in the gym in the evening doing my rehab, and this girl who has been training for a while, I don’t know her name but she has the heart of a fighter and that is why she will one day be very good, came up to me right after her workout and asked me, all in one breathless question (she’d obviously been waiting all class to come ask): “You know that thing they did in the Games with the one-legged pistol squats with kettlebells? Can YOU do that?” I said I had no idea, but probably: let’s go find out. So we did, and I could. And she left happy. That thing she’d seen on TV, performed by a living, breathing, female that she knew.
And then the next morning I woke up to a great long Facebook email from a friend that said, in part, the following: “Thanks for helping me think a little out the box and for teaching me to not be afraid to do things that night challenge me – like you so often do – probabaly without thinking. I just take a little longer. Boom!
So, what did I learn? While I may be hard on myself for lacking a sympathy gene, and while I may feel inadequate most of the time because I feel like I’m too self-centred, and especially now where if it’s not CrossFit or Wi-Fi I’m probably not that interested in it (tunnel vision, anyone??), apparently I do have an impact, and on some people it’s a positive one.
While I may or may not have been whining on this blog recently about sometimes the attention [that I do crave, let’s not lie here!] being all a bit too much, and just wanting to crawl under the covers some days and not come out, well life gives you what you need, right? Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not too much to handle, and we all have our ups and downs.
What I meant to say: I am happy and proud to be a role model of sorts for some people, just as I look up to many role models around me. And for any of us to go whining about how it’s so much pressure to be a role model is just silly. It’s like in certain situations I can see and feel that I have a little bit of star power to me, for whatever mix of reasons. I go certain places and my presence is felt, let’s just put it that way. It’s not important why, but it’s disingenuous to pretend it’s not there. I’m just glad I’m not actually famous.
Back to reality. Training. Then Saturday accounting lunch, and afterwards some errands and what can only be described as a mental vacation. I took a hot bath, relaxed, and was so indecisive I couldn’t even figure out if I wanted to put away my groceries or do laundry first. Mental rest day.
Sunday morning was literally magical. I was meeting my friend Justin for a mountain run. Justin’s an Ironman so it was very nice of him to take it slowly for my deconditioned ass, but as we started out running up Devil’s Peak, a rainbow came out. And it was not a subtle rainbow, it was an across-Table Mountain, full-fledged, cross-the-sky rainbow.
Then we ran up the mountain, and some niggles in my body that I’d been ignoring came out. Time for more mobility.
This city is stunning. The way the mountains frame the city, the way the colour of the sea and the sky complement each other so perfectly. About this time of the winter the depth of the green of the mountain, and the different kinds of fynbos, with the blooming proteas and aloes, and the clouds and sky and even the cold temperatures make you feel spectacularly alive. On the way up we jumped a stream. On the way back we got caught in a squall, and got soaked.
Something that struck me the other day as I was getting off the highway in Johannesburg was that although I obviously am a foreigner in a foreign land, and there is no mistaking my accent and different upbringing, I’ve been here so long now that it does all feel pretty familiar. The road markings. The brands. The way people speak. The architecture.
Like the entrepreneur’s curse is always to be walking that tightrope of fear and responsibility, and feeling guilty when not working, the expat’s curse is to feel almost at home, but not quite, both in country of birth and country of residence. When you’re an American working in America, you (or at least I, and I did quite a bit of work with overseas organisations so I like to think I’m pretty open minded) tend to have a feeling of ‘other’ when dealing with anyone outside your country. It’s not a trust issue, it’s a familiarity issue, and it is damn weird when a Bostonian actually does have more in common with someone from Toronto than someone from Little Rock.
Be that as it may, this is how I now feel about South Africans. ‘They’ are ‘mine’ in that this is now as much my home culture as America is. I may never love or understand rugby like I love or understand football. But I feel more and more at home every month. Justin even commented when we were running: How long have you been here? Six years? THREE? Only three? Wow.
Yeah. I feel that way too sometimes. I was just looking through my photos from 2010 recently. That feels like a lifetime ago. Different people in my life; I couldn’t yet do a pullup, different field of work, certainly a lot more immature. And if I’m this much more mature three years later, I have a lot of growing to do still. I’m tired just thinking about it.
But back to reality. That run was an epic way to start the day! I followed it up with lunch at Sandbar, accidentally running into Roland and getting some great feedback on mobility, dorsiflexion, and Olympic lifting, while I was busy doing whatever it is I was doing. Brain still not fully engaged. And I forgot to write down his best quotes. Although I’m sure he had some. Probably wasn’t trying hard enough.
Then: I flew to Port Elizabeth to speak at a conference, which I wasn’t really in the mood to do but you do what you must. Was fun though, as always!
Back again to Cape Town and a welcome sleep in my own bed, but the weekend and first half of the week was telling: last week did take it out of me. Overtraining and overworking manifest similarly.
And then there was a bit of a shock to the system on Tuesday morning. I can tell when people are being emotional, of course, but when there is a deep truth to what they are saying, and the truth is something you’ve not really concerned yourself with because it’s kind of immaterial to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s immaterial to others. Makes you think.
I was trying to explain something to Jeff on Saturday – how sometimes just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD. It may be better to lose a battle than to lose the war, and there’s a hell of a lot more to life and work than money. I don’t know if I’ll be in the telecoms space, or in the tech space, or in Cape Town, or Johannesburg, or even on this continent in the next few years. What I do know? The way that I go about doing things matters. I may not be perfect, but at least I try to do good.
Intrinsic motivation, and aces in their places. That’s kind of the name of the game this week. I am about to unleash an interesting series of events, internally and externally. Will be interesting to see what happens when the dust settles.
But damn, it hurts when I see someone I care about get hurt.
I also want to pat myself on the back for listening to my body. Trained Tuesday morning and just wasn’t feeling it … at all. I couldn’t snatch to save my life, so I stopped early. Next day woke up at my normal 5:30am time and felt exhausted and unmotivated. So I skipped gym and went back to bed. Clearly what I needed was rest, not more training.
Got it back that night when I went to throw down with the boys Nick and Peter at CrossFit City Bowl. My snatch was back, and we did a sneaky little workout that kicked all of our asses …. But hey, I still beat the boys. That was the idea, after all.
Training by yourself might have an element of Rocky to it, sure, but as I said above it’s a bit lonely. And lacking girls to throw down with, I’ll play with the boys.
  • “I think we both know that’s completely untrue.” – Jeff
  • “5 is nearly 6. 3 is nearly 2!” – Sam
  • “I kind of like them both.” – Ellie (indecisive much?)
  • “A frustrated man with a smartphone? Well you could take a photo of me right now!” – Andrew
  • “We got a verbal on the Cape Town event.” “What, even after my porn joke?” – two of my crew
  • “I also like Joburg.” “Yeah. I don’t understand that.” – Ellie & Damon
  • “It’s pretty!” “It’s pretty useless!” – Ellie & Stefan
  • “I’ve said that to a number of them. It didn’t go very well.” – Jade
  • “In my opinion, I’m right and you’re wrong, no matter what that date says.” – Jeff
  • “You’re going to kill us!” “That’s the idea!” – Peter & Ellie
  • “Even if we’re not really competing; it’s still a competition!” – Ellie
  • “You get around a lot, hey!” – Nick 

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