Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Socialization's not all bad after all...

Socialization is a funny thing, I’m finding, and not all bad for the fitness journey I’ve been on.

It’s funny for me to be toting socialization because it tends to be a pejorative word in my line of work, or at least in the way I do my work. Many of my seminary-faculty colleagues are socialization-heavy, in my view. It speaks to the status quo, to prioritizing the Tradition (always with a capital T), to the way we’ve always done it, to the conservative power of the community to shape human behavior in predictable and definable ways. Most socialization-heavy folk, in my view, are rigid out of fear, need for security-stability, willfulness to hold onto what-was instead of being with what-is... Not surprisingly, I’m a transformation girl, myself. I’m interested in tradition (small ‘t’) growing and changing, welcoming innovation and healing through new ways of trying/doing something that improve upon the old. Not eradicating the old, of course, just improving upon it. Of course, folks who don’t want to be improved upon see me as against Tradition. I don't like it when others try to improve me, so I get that, but...I am as I am. Transformation's more interesting.

Schools are vehicles of socialization, though we also want them to be places of discovery and transformation. School today is where young (older?) people go to learn how to be in collective settings, to know how to speak quietly in the library and scream on the recess playground, to learn the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic, to learn critical thinking and problem-solving. We also want them to try new things, of course, but usually only things we adults have thought of before, or
know to be safe, etc. Older people go to school to learn a profession, to be shaped in a discipline of study, to learn a set of skills that will nurture and provide sustenance and hopefully even delight in their lives. By the time older people decide to return to school, sometimes they/we just want to “get the certification” or the “driver’s license” to do something we/they already know we/they want to do. Theological education can be that, or it can be a lively container in which someone learns new ways of seeing the sacred, the world, our relationships within us and our world(s). I can usually spot the socialization-students within the first week of class. Socialization ultimately provides the script by which we become the human beings we are familiar with already.

The fellow I studied with defined transformation as the force that helps human beings become who they/we could become in the future, with imagination, creativity, and wonder. He placed the journey of human becoming solidly between the necessary forces of socialization--learning how to survive in human collectives and the natural world--and transformation--delighting in being a child of God, able to imagine, create, take delight in the mysteries and gifts of being a body in our world. Transformation is what happens in the Sacred Flow of life. Transformation is the unexpected, the scandalously abundant, the surprisingly Grace-filled Gift, etc.

So this transformation girl is today going to tote the wonder of socialization, alongside the gifts of transformation: I completed the Murph challenge yesterday, with time left to spare before the time-cap of 60 minutes. CrossFit ‘boxes’ across the nation (world?) often honor national days of remembrance with a particular ‘hero WOD,’ a workout-of-the-day that is specified and named after a fallen veteran or officer whose life was lost in the line of duty. Many boxes do the Murph Challenge on Memorial Day: wearing a 20-lb vest or body armour, run a mile, then 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air-squats, then run another mile. Scaling options are available, as in any CrossFit workout, and the community comes together to complete the workout. Post-COVID now, this was the first time our box was back in full force for the Memorial Day workout. Coaches & some arrived early to do the challenge before the rest of us arrived at 9 a.m. to complete the workout.

All of this has everything to do with socialization in a CrossFit way. There is a predictability of the Murph Challenge on this day. There is the way you are supposed to do it, accompanied by other ways you can, so more of the community can participate. Folks coming in know the ‘rules of the road’ and how to participate. All the marks of socialization.

I’ve only done CrossFit for a little under three years, so this was only my third run-through. The first time, I arrived a little unsure of what all would be required of me. I was new. I teamed up with 3 or 4 partners, and we did the work in pretty short order. I realized I had more umph in me, so I added a mile run on the end of that day’s fitness. The second time was in COVID lockdown, so no one came to the gym at all. I was already socialized enough to know the Murph Challenge was “a thing,” however, so I found a scaled way to do it in my own garage: bent-over rows with 18 lb DB, push-ups, air-squats, and run to the middle-school sign and back at the start and the finish. I made sure my husband was away at work that morning, and did the whole thing in my garage. 61 minutes, or so, but including a run downstairs to get a box-fan. It was HOT! So this time, I repeated the way I had done it before, except worked out with the community at the gym/box, 20 lb dumbbells. Another mark of CF socialization: do the same workout and try to beat your earlier time.

It’s the predictability, the continuity, the community that keeps me steady in my own fitness journey. Learning how movements are done, and done healthily and well. Learning ever-deeper nuances as one skill-level is mastered, like pairing one’s breathing-timing and tending to core-stability once you have the barbel technique down. It’s the socialization of the whole that creates the container for the individual to grow, to strengthen, to challenge, to celebrate too. That I can celebrate about socialization.

And there are funny side-effects of all this in life outside the gym/box. Recently, my college sent out a notice that they were rectifying a gender-injustice within the varsity sports norms operative when I was there in the late 80’s. Men would get varsity letters for playing a varsity sport; women’s sports at Carleton did not. I had been a soccer player through the first years of high school, then gave it up to focus on band and academics. I entered Carleton without considering joining a sport. By junior year, however, events converged for me to join the women’s soccer team. It became my life, my community, my web of friendships. I wish I had played from freshman year. So...my senior year, I played on the varsity team some, but I was by no means a starter of the team. I remember the assistant coach, Kristen (though she went by Sten), sneaking me a first-year C pin, which was the women’s equivalent of a varsity letter at the time. It meant the world to me. 

Today, once again, I understand myself to be somewhat an athlete, given my love of and discipline in the CrossFit streams. So I wrote the Alumni Office--which I probably would not have done if I weren’t a CrossFitter now--and requested my varsity letter. It arrived in the mail last week, complete with a certificate in my name.

Socialization is not all bad after all. It’s nice to have achieved within the spectrum of some norms I have come to value anew. I love the fact that it’s a C too. For Carleton, of course, but...it might just go onto a jacket and mean CrossFit for me. Perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment