Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Recovering from the Fire Hydrant

Nothing quite like getting a drink of water at a fire hydrant.

I’m back from my pilgrimage to The CrossFit Games and Holy Wisdom Monastery, each dancing with one another in my experience of the week. I am so glad I went and I urge anyone who's considering it to do it. It was epic, surprising, predictable, nourishing, overwhelming, and bemusing too. My life is such that some friends will want to hear all about The Games, while others are more attuned to the Holy Wisdom Monastery bits. I can’t separate them myself, as each played off of the other, to clear purpose. Annie Thorisdottir at The Games is what pulled me to Madison, but ultimately, I now know I went to be surprised, to breathe in some new ways at Holy Wisdom, to which I expect to return. 

That said, it was awesome to see Annie do her thing. I love seeing what she gets to do, how she does it. The divine spark in her is HUGE. I got to celebrate how she shines, even as she alluded on Facebook to some disappointment with how she placed. And I did get to see her up close two different times, watching others get signatures or selfies. I missed my own selfie with her by literally seconds when someone else inserted herself in front of me. I simply didn’t elbow back or push the button in time. There was a stillness within me by then, a not-pushy-ness, which was more precious to me (apparently). I did feel sad to miss out, but even more a visceral sadness to see Annie so very weary. (It was Sunday, after all). I drove home musing on how social media creates a false sense of connection when it’s mostly projection…the divine spark in her that reminds me of my own, the need and opportunity to shine as I do. It was great to see her and it’s great her feet are on the ground next to mine, off of any media-driven pedestal.

Come to think of it, there were a lot of tears–in a good way–that final day of The Games. Folks outside of CrossFit can’t really feel the epic Roman Khrenniikov moments in Event 11 the way that CrossFitters might. Why continue when you’ve broken your foot? [This was confirmed when I tried to explain it to my beloved Brian, who has no interest or willingness to consider fitness in CrossFit terms.] I was dumbfounded myself, at first. The cynic in me nods to “yes, yes, the money…” Roman’s moved to the States from Russia, and this is his day job, supporting his family. But the perseverance, the courage, the utter tenacity of the whole thing is what moved me. A whole coliseum crowd on its feet chanting “Roman! Roman! Roman!” while he completed half of the event before the time-cap. Heavy double-unders on one leg. And he’s Russian. Epic beauty, is all I can say. I was thrilled to be there for it, to experience it viscerally, in my own skin. I felt hope-full that a roomful of thousands of people could unify in encouragement.

One last observation before I let the experience continue to percolate these next weeks, months.

Being in Madison to work and going to The Games as a spectator with no immediate webs of relationship/affiliation shaped my experience at ‘some remove.’ The opportunities for those already affiliated looked fantastic, with great options for leadership and yearly connections with professional-friends in the Sport of CrossFit. But for me, this was the last week of my work-sabbatical, writing-work that requires hermitage-like quiet and intensity of focus. I spent two full days immersed in the writing work, only catching up on the video-stream like all of my other box-friends. It felt good to text-in with them. Homey and normal. I also found a box local to the monastery, so to ground the days in my body like I do at home. That was fabulous, familiar, necessary. But I did feel the tension of "missing out on The Games" for the two days I was absent.

I’m so glad I got to experience the Games in Madison before they leave to who-knows-where. But I also have no need to go to The Games again, unless it were within a more present web of belonging or affiliation. I've never wanted to move into any leadership roles, though, as CrossFit is my own play-space, adult recess, body work not community responsibilities. I have a much deeper appreciation of how the web of affiliation connects, and how the boxes I’ve gotten to experience here tend that so well. But Crossfit for me has never been about the elite-athletes or the Games. I remember distinctly disliking the Open when I first started, for how it torqued the weeks of workouts at the box.

No...CrossFit as a circle-community around fitness, around clean eating, around weekly cups-of-courage to live life most fully is what keeps me showing up, with gratitude, irreverence and curiosity.

I like drinks of water in small portions, it would seem.

Preferably with electrolytes.

Preferably with friends.

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