If we only show the beautiful parts of ourselves, we’re only helping this world partway.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love seeing your beautiful selves. Keep that up. We all need to be inspired, and we need grace and beauty in our lives. But I want to see more. I think it’s important.
The world improves when, in addition to showing beauty, we reveal some of the not-so-pretty parts of ourselves. Because this game — in CrossFit and in life — is comprised of the made lifts and the failures. (And we need to teach ourselves not to be frightened by the word ”failure.” It’s a synonym for “lesson learned.”)
Try this: Broaden your entire viewpoint. Consider what is in the photo, as well as what is left out.
Remember: we can see the light because the dark surrounds it.
We can read the words on a page because the page was blank first.
We can catch the softball because there was an empty space in the pocket of the glove.
We can lift the bar because once it had no weight on it.
So too it is with our hearts and love. They were empty once. Now, hopefully, we are filling them.
Fitness comes in fits and spurts, but ultimately rises overall if we are truly devoted to bettering ourselves. So too it is with strength and writing and love.
These lessons are not new. These stories we have heard. But we need to keep telling them to each other, and we need to keep relearning those lessons that are important. We improve through small steps, not by a sudden thunderbolt.
Be brave. Show the missed lift. Walk out your front door with no make-up once in a while. Say “I made a mistake.” The world improves when we admit that we are all fundamentally human.
The weight you left off the barbell because you didn’t believe in yourself?
Your inability to find “enough” time to do what you want to? The reason you keep pushing your glorious dreams to the margins of your life?
The way you use humor to keep the conversation light and away from your heart when someone wants to get serious?
The silent sentences you swallow at work, or (worse) at home? Pushing them back behind your teeth, digging your nails into your thighs, leaning away instead of jumping into this life?
Why don’t you just speak?
Say what scares you.
And be free.
You may not get what you want — you may never get what you want — but your captivity of you will end.
Don’t be scared of this life. It is yours and always has been. Grab it like you are dying … because you are. For the sake of your very soul and everyone you love and every person who never got to live their dreams before life closed its shutters suddenly and inexplicably, throw down your self-imposed shackles and do something now.
“I know nothing with any certainty. But the sight of the stars makes me dream.” — Vincent van Gogh
The 2014 Open Leaderboard is set in stone by now, and we have totals and pounds and times and rankings and infographics. These are all good for facts, but facts never tell the whole story. There’s so much more that goes on in the Open.
The romance of what we do is often lost on non-believers.
We try to explain it, but we fail — time and again. The weights, the sprints, the times, the togetherness, the family you find, the whole crazyhardwonderful experience of CrossFit is simply impossible sometimes to describe fully and adequately, particularly to those who are steadfast in their decision not to see the magic.
It’s like trying to explain cloud figures in the sky. Easier to describe to a child than to a grown adult. Adults can be so guarded. Many folks have stripped the wonder from their own eyes.
The sad thing is that they didn’t have to. They thought they did. They thought to be “grown up” was to see things clearly, unemotionally, pragmatically. So they became these serious, responsible adults, all the while not realizing they would grow up anyhow and those things would come. They didn’t know the real trick was to pay your bills and keep your heart and laugh. The real secret was what Bruce Springsteen figured out long ago: to dance on your problems.
Perhaps you can understand this viewpoint. Perhaps this was you. And then you found CrossFit.
People can put the wonder back in their lives, in their minds, in their hearts. But the thing is that they have to do it. You can’t do it for them. And it’s a bit tricky, and full of potential problems.
Opening your vision is dangerous, because it makes you vulnerable. Many people think it’s better to stick to a same, tried routine and be safe. Don’t expose your heart. You could get hurt. You will get hurt.
Sure, but the sad thing is, if you don’t take chances, you might never really live.
You can play it safe. You can be warm and cozy and exist in a mediocre world. That can be your life.
Or you can see the clouds, and the faces in them.
“My experience has taught me that you must first and always seek the person you are. And this becoming unfolds through the intensity with which you use your body, through your absorption in play, and through the acceptance of the discipline needed to be an athlete. At all times, you must protect your Self. Maintain a childlike wonder. Acquire if you can the ability to be careless, to disregard appearances, to relax and laugh at the world.” — George Sheehan, “Running and Being”
You don’t have to like the CrossFit Games. Or the Regionals. Or the Open.
I’m fine with you not giving a damn about who’s on the leaderboard or where you rank in your region. If you decided to quit the Open (or didn’t join at all), I won’t judge you.
What? Isn’t that CrossFit blasphemy? Aren’t we all supposed to live, breathe, eat, sleep the Games season, from Open sign-ups until the last fan leaves the stadium at the Stub Hub Center in July?
CrossFit is more than the CrossFit Games. Always has been. Always will be. Anybody who tells you differently doesn’t really understand CrossFit.
CrossFit created the Games. The Games did not create CrossFit. But the Games are wonderful.
The Games are this big, beautiful spectacle of human performance and achievement. We see so much through the lens of sweat and effort. We can see ourselves, even if we never kip like Camille or lift like Lindsey or destroy the competition like Rich. We can be inspired and thrilled and entertained; we can play too, at our own speed. And we can be motivated to practice and achieve greater skills because we saw someone else do amazing things first.
And, yes, one man and one woman and one team emerge as the Fittest on Earth.Sometimes, it all feels like a film out of Hollywood. Everyone is beautiful and fit and lovely — and that’s okay. We like the movies and we love heroes and heroines. The crowd cheers when somebody wins, and, because it’s CrossFit, they cheer for the last-place athlete too.
But what do the Games really highlight?
The CrossFit affiliates. The Games highlight people who love CrossFit. The Games highlight CrossFit.
They shine a giant spotlight on this worldwide movement that brings results to your fitness and your life and your community in ways you never imagined could come from a training program. The Games, in their own way, help all of us to help others.
That’s why the Games — and all the components, including the Regionals and the Open — are important. But that importance does not mean you have to love the Games. You can love CrossFit without loving the Games. You can do CrossFit without ever paying attention to the Games. I’m okay with that. You should be okay with that. And every CrossFit affiliate in the world is probably okay with that.
You signed up for the Open? Great. You love the Games? Outstanding. No one in your affiliate pays one lick of attention to the Games and you all still do CrossFit? Fantastic.
Because CrossFit is more than the Games. CrossFit is about making you better. The Games are just one of the paths that lead to better. A fun, glorious path if you see it that way, but we all get to find our own paths.
If you don’t love the Games, the sun will rise same as ever. Just love CrossFit and what it can do for you and your friends — that’s the really important part.
I left the girl I was supposed to be. The polite person who said all the right words and didn’t offend. The one who carried on for the children’s sake. The one with the perfect job and the perfect family in the perfect house.
It took me a long time to leave her. Years. And years. And years. It took a while to define myself.
And it’s an ongoing process. I leave the other girl daily, every single time I pick up the barbell or swing a kettlebell. That girl— the polite one, the one society told to be a “good girl” and “play nice”—she runs away every time I run, or lift, or even start to breathe heavy during the warm-up.
She’s not who I want to be. She’s not who I ever wanted to be. She’s the girl I thought I had to be, for everyone else. But they didn’t know me. And that was my fault, because I was too scared to let anyone see who I really was. But I’m not scared anymore.
When I’m in the gym, you might find a lot of things there with me: chalk, tape, blood, heart, sweat. Foot stomping. Grunting. Sometimes, the F bomb — to celebrate, or motivate.
But you will rarely find perfect. In my form. In my words. In me. I try, but I don’t always get there. I am a work in progress.
And I will be a work in progress until the moment I cease breathing. It took me a long time to realize that’s okay, and that the perfect girl is gone. But the one who stayed is pretty kickass. I actually like her a whole lot better.
Gone is that girl who doesn’t believe in herself. You won’t find her here. You also won’t ever find a girl who thinks that if you lift big, you get “too big.” What is “too big” anyhow? Who the heck decided that? What a bunch of bullshit. What a passel of small-mindedness passed around by people who never realized how wonderful life could be. Ignore it all, my friends.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned in life is this: Never let anyone else define how youshould be. It’s your life. Push past the small minds and press on towards your big, bad, beautiful self. Define yourself.
Now, get in the gym or out on the trail or into your notebook or wherever you feel huge and alive, and go hard. Be the person you always wanted to be. It’s not too late.
I went to the 14.5 Event Announcement and the best moment for me was not watching the amazing performances, or hanging with the fabulous Rich Froning and the fantastic Sam Briggs and all the wonderful HQ staff and athletes. The best moment was not being a VIP at an exclusive after-party.
The best moment was talking with the woman in the parking garage.
We were hoofing it to my buddy Josh Murphy’s car post-event (Josh works on CFHQ philanthropic efforts and is one good dude), when a woman in a CrossFit hoodie turned around as we approached the stairs and said, “Lisbeth Darsh! We’re friends on Facebook. I’m so glad to meet you!”
And then we walked up three flights of stairs, arm in arm, as she told me her name (Tarri) and where she works out (CrossFit North Marin) and we talked about CrossFit.
Just CrossFitters chatting. Love of a sport, love of a community. The whole interchange lasted maybe five minutes, and it made the trip up to San Francisco totally worth it.
See, I’ve been doing this gig for a while now and I’ve been on the floor of the CrossFit Games and Regionals and Open events and pretty much done everything and been everywhere you can imagine. It’s all great fun and I love it, but, for me, nothing ever compares to the fun of talking with CrossFitters. Nobody has to be super-fit to be a super person. We all just love this crazy thing we do, we go really hard, and we take care of each other — and that’s enough.
I guess what I’m saying here is this: the best seats at any event aren’t necessarily in the front. The best seats are often in the back rows, surrounded by the community you love. Just enjoy the moment you are in. These are your people.
And if you see me somewhere, say hi. It’s never a bother, and you know I always have time for a selfie or two. I just love CrossFit. Period. And I’m really glad you do too.