“He was looking at a pale sun rise, thinking back on the time gone by, how he loved and he laughed and he cried.  How it all was a blink of an eye.  Now he’s looking at the shake in his hand thinking how much more of life can he stand?  And how many years can he cram before his fate gives way and he’s ash in the sand?”

I felt shattered.  A broken man.  It confused me… all that had happened.  Or my ignorance towards it, perhaps.  I wasn’t sure what I was feeling: anger, betrayal, pain, intensity, defiance, weakness… surrender.  I think, all that I knew I was feeling for certain was that it all hurt.  Every morning I would get up and force myself to keep going.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  All I had left in my heart was to surrender myself.  I had been driven to my knees… and was losing the ability to fight.  All I could do was give it to the fates, and hope that it was the right thing… the right path.  And, just when I thought I’d catch a breadth of fresh air… it would come back, swarm over me, rip my world apart, and leave.  A selfish evil.  I would try to breathe… just keep grinding.  Don’t let it beat you… even if you feel beaten.  Just keep moving.  You can do this, channel your energy.  Why? What do I need to do?  Why is this happening?  How could I let this happen?  What is next?  Who is my God?  What is my life?  Where do I need to go?  What do I believe?  Am I dead?  This was the last 5 months of my life.  Exhausting, confusing, uncertain, intense…and tiring.  Everything that happened left me with more than heartbreak… it shook my very foundation.  There were times when I wasn’t sure what was real.  Complete surrender of the ego.

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And is it the last stop on the road, or the next step in a path grand and unknown ? 
A milestone formed from the fruits of his ways , okay in what comes with the end of his days. But the sun’s rays shine on a face so divine “An angel of mine” goes the phrase in his mind.    Wise to the signs, knowing soon is the time but he isn’t ready to say goodbye….
It was relentless, the turmoil, the introspection.  Exhausting.  Looking for the signs, praying for moments of reprieve where I could breathe and see beauty again.  Making sense of the pain.  What does this all mean?  In the end, the only choice I had left was to close my eyes, feel what I needed to feel, listen for what I needed to hear, pick myself up…. again, having been shattered multiple times as the truth came cascading down relentlessly… and step forward.  Allow the pain in.  Allow it to shape you, to grow you… to connect me to the gods.  I began to understand that it was no longer really about the event itself… and the following twisting of the knife… that was just the catalyst.  It all happened perfectly to get me to the point I am at now.  It was more about being my time to dig deeper, and search.  Fate decided it was the next chapter in my growth.
I just kept training.  Whether I was tired, upset, depressed, angry, hurt… it didn’t matter.  I just kept going back to the barbell.  There were moments I was as strong as I had ever been… and there were training days I just quit, and walked out of.  But I always came back.  The dark winter months kept going.  When I left the gym I’d go home… walking from the train in the cold and dark.  In my head, intensely thinking and feeling.  It was relentless.  Months before I came off of my worst performance yet, and came home to the catalyst that shook my foundation.   Then the twisting of the knife months later.  The worst thing that could have happened… did.  Over and over again.  Day after day, sleepless nights, pain, and training.  I started to even lose my steam in lifting.  And began asking myself if I wanted to continue.  I had already signed up for a competition in March, the Garage Games Classic.  I told myself just do this… do it because you said you would.  Then just quit.  I had been training alone in that corner of the gym… watching everyone’s life move forward while I felt trapped… alone… leashed to the platform.  Just keep lifting… it’s all you have left.  Then you can go home.
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Waiting between worlds that divide through a choice undefined a break in the line where all paths intertwine.  And no roads lead or progress behind and all signs read: “Know The Way. Decide.” They say all things never truly die but change in existence and switch design.
Then the day came.  I woke up at 4am in the morning to drive 4 hours to Atlanta, GA.  All signs pointed to not going.  I had no coach, no teammates, no place to stay… and I had been training alone for months.  No one cared that I was going.  No one knew that I was coming.  As I was driving alone in the dark… I just kept thinking, “this is stupid.  Why are you doing this?  This is fucking stupid.  It’s over.”  But there was still that guidance I had been feeling for months… even through the pain.  A small voice carrying me… telling me to hold on.  Just keep moving… trust this.  I pulled up, weighed in, met with the venue… and judged the female lifts.  I had only one goal really, I needed to prove to myself that I had, in fact, improved in this sport.  I bombed out in October, in front of my team, my family… television.  On a weight that should have been immensely easy.  If I hit my openers, I’d set a competition PR for myself right then and there.  My Snatch opener was also the very thing that was the moment my spiral downwards began.  My bombing out and failing in Philly, coming home to a broken relationship only to find out everything was a betrayal and a lie.  Just loss in general.  It felt like months of losing.  There was no justice.  One thing after another.  I said… do this for you.  Right here, right now.  Get out there and do this for yourself.
I walked to the back and started warming up.  Helping a novice lifter in his first competition, I talked him through his nervousness, coached him.  It felt good… because it was then I realized how far I had become.  I knew how he felt, I had been there.  And had grown from that.  Then I focused on myself.  As I was warming up I was intensely focused.  It felt eerily similar to the feeling I experience when I knew I was about to step into a gun fight.  That level of calm fierceness.  I could feel an immense amount of energy blooming inside of me… but I was calm.  My body was moving effortlessly.  I was relaxed, precise, determined, and was ready to do this fight.  I was ready for victory, or death.  It all felt so familiar.  Then, they called my name, and I walked to the platform.  I chalked my hands methodically, thinking only of my cues.  I paced back and forth staring at the barbell, time ceased, I could hear nothing.  I approached it, set in my hook grip, and whispered to myself, “Lets finish this.”  Everything went immensely calm and quite.  I only saw darkness, no people, heard no sounds, it was timeless and infinite… I was waiting between worlds.  A choice then and there to transcend.
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Like a drain to an ocean in which we’re blind we remain set in motion from worlds combined.  So if I had one thought that would last and hold amass and fold over as it fastly grows, and fuse into life like a fabric sewn…

 

I looked up and began the lift.  It was completely effortless.  The barbell moved with me and floated, I felt my heels slam into the platform with a loud *CLAP*, and it was so stable.  It felt effortless.  I stood it up, waited for the judge to let me drop it, and looked for the 3-whites.  As the barbell fell to the floor I stood there for a second, as the crowd watched I looked down at the barbell just nodding my head in acceptance.  I hit 3 for 3 snatches.  Never before in my life, and every one was just as solid as the last, no matter if the weight got heavier.  I was moving again.  I was winning, I was transcending my past.  I was on fire.  Some of the lifters started talking with me.  Things were clicking… I felt my energy coming back… I was happy.  Now the Clean and Jerks.  All I had to do was hit my opener and I’d set a competition total PR right then and there.  I walked out, at this point I had started forming a friendship with another athlete’s coach.  She came out and watched as I did my opener.  I went through my motions to establish my flow and harness my energy… and absolutely crushed it.  Left no doubt.  I looked over and she was nodding.  I came out, hit my second Clean and Jerk and that was a competition PR for Clean and Jerk.  Then I had about a minute of turn around due to some jostling.  I was going to set a lifetime PR.  I said fuck it, wrapped my knees, and went out.  I didn’t care if I hit it.. I wanted to… but I had already won in my mind.  Now I was just having fun.  I got under it in the split jerk… but was too fatigued, didn’t have enough rest… and I lost it in the recovery.  I laughed it off… I wanted to go 6 for 6… but I was happy, and the crowd clapped for me… athletes approached me to congratulate me on a good performance… and my new coach friend said, “you lifted well today.”  I started picking up my things.  I usually leave early… because I have never medaled or expected to.  But something told me to stay.  Next thing I know I hear Ben Riddle, 3rd place, approach the podium.  Un. Fucking. Real.  I don’t know that I could even describe the significance of that moment… even if it was a small meet.  To have gone that far since what I felt in October… the defeat.  I grabbed my stuff… stepped out to my truck to my happy pup who came along for the ride… and breathed out an audible sigh.  Smiling to myself… I started my truck.
The last 5 months were some of the most trying I have ever experienced in my life.  The pain, the discomfort, the confusion, the introspection, the questions, the training, the doubt, the fear…. It all came to a head before the competition as I laid on my bed, alone in the dark, with tears and shaking hands.  Asking for it to stop.  The whole time there was this feeling, this voice… telling me to just hold on.  Trust in the pain… just keep fighting.  And just when I had given up, and used my last ounce of faith to travel to a competition completely (or physically) alone… it came to a head.  I performed beautifully, and the pain washed away.  I stand now a better man, a stronger man… and prouder man.  A calmness has found me.  I feel more morally complete, closer to my gods, closer to myself and my values… and I know what I want.  Life is more beautiful now.  My strength has returned.  There is no way for those random people in Georgia to know what happened on that platform that day.  A man was re-born, right in front of them.  I think some people were aware of that based on the response I got.  Closer in my faith, myself, and my own… I look forward now to the beauty that is my life.  The gods wait to delight in you… you just have to hold on and trust your instincts.  Listen, be awake, and feel what you need to feel.  Pain is the catalyst for re-birth.  The gift is in the time between… the growing.  You can hear your gods in the waiting between worlds.
Clasp the vast field whence existence flows
I’d say settle down, of your grief let go
This world’s nothing more than a magic show
Though tragic at times and encased in woe
It all works out, of this truth I know
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