“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life.
It’s just too intelligent to come here.”
– Arthur C. Clarke
First, I forget that I don’t have keys to the gym. I gave them to Lon so that he can run open gym on Friday nights, and I haven’t made another set yet. I pull up to the gym, and before I even open the car door, I remember this and sigh. So, I run back to the coffee shop to get Nick’s keys so that I can actually open the gym door and retrieve the phone charger.
Next, I go to pay rent and pull up to the property management office and realize that my checkbook is at home. I text Nick and tell him that sometimes I think the universe is conspiring against me. He doesn’t respond to my text. I imagine him rolling his eyes at me and telling me something about science and how the universe doesn’t give a shit about me and what does it even mean to say that a bunch of planets and stars and black holes conspire against me. He has never actually rolled his eyes at me, and I don’t think he is an eye roller, but this is how I imagine it in my head.
Then, traffic happens. I fully intend to stop at Greenlife to get something “healthy” for dinner on the way to pick him up and head to the gym for the evening, but Merrimon Avenue is not my friend, and I already know that Patton Avenue will not be my friend, and if I stop at Greenlife at 5:00 pm, I will have to wait in line behind 20 hippies who all want to buy some organic gluten-free dairy-free cruelty-free rainforest-certified kale for dinner, and I will be late to open the gym.
I text him to say that I don’t really want fast food and that I think we should wait to eat until we get home, and then I realize that we will be starving because we haven’t eaten since breakfast and we have to be at the gym until after 9:00 pm. So, I think maybe I can suffer and eat fast food because that is better than starving, and then I realize that everything that I want to eat is on the wrong side of Patton Avenue. Between 240 and the gym, I will pass Arby’s and McDonald’s and Wendy’s and Krispy Kreme and Sonic and even KFC, and they will all be on the opposite side of the street. There is a giant median that necessitates a double U-turn in order for me to take advantage of this glorious abundance of fast food, and if I have to wait for two left hand turn signals in order to make a double U-turn on Patton Avenue at 5:15 pm, there is no way we will get to the gym on time. The universe probably hated me when it planned the fast food restaurants on Patton Avenue.
So, I decide that a chocolate mint Clif bar will be enough because I have those in the car, and I get in the left had turn lane to turn onto Haywood Avenue to pick up Nick.
And, then, without warning, the panic attack is upon me.
I am not sure exactly what flashes through my head, but it is something about squatting because I am planning to squat tonight since I always squat. I think about squatting, and all of a sudden, I cannot breathe and there is this shooting pain down my left arm like I am having a heart attack and in the blink of an eye, I am ready to cry. Part of my brain is screaming WHAT THE FUCK, WHY WOULD YOU HAVE A PANIC ATTACK ABOUT SQUATTING because squatting is the easy thing and it is the thing that never freaks me out anymore. I have reached some level of squat enlightenment at this point and it is all about flow and being at one with the universe and squats just happen without me planning sets and reps.
And, now I am in the left hand turn lane having a panic attack about squats.
I pull up to the coffee shop to get Nick and he gets in the car and knows something is wrong because I am doing the crazy breathing that I do when I have a panic attack and I can only whisper to answer him. I realize that I am having a panic attack simply because I am worried that I will have a repeat of Tuesday night, but I am not sure how to stop it.
We pull up to the gym and Nick says to breathe deep breaths and I tell him that this doesn’t work because anything that makes me draw attention to my breathing makes it worse. It makes me feel like I cannot breathe even more when I try to focus on my breathing. I am sure that the great Yogis or Taoist masters will tell me that this is crazy and explain some bullshit about how focusing on my breathing will fix things and make me at one with the universe, but they are wrong. I know they are wrong because I am the person who gets a cold and stays up at night when I have a stuffy nose because I am worried I will suffocate. Suffocating is a horrible thing like drowning, which I am also terrified of, even though I don’t swim or do other recreational activities in large bodies of water for any reason. I might stand in a chlorinated pool, but I certainly won’t go in a lake because of brain eating ameobas (they are real, you can look them up), and anyone who has ever seen the movie Open Water and still goes in the ocean on purpose is totally fucked in the head.
Me, I am rational.
I say that maybe I shouldn’t train tonight and Nick says that is fine and that I don’t need to train tonight if I think it is going to make things worse. So, I sit in the car and think for a minute and I decide that I will be okay if I just squat.
I get out of the car and open the back to get my gym bag.
My gym bag is at home in the garage.
Nick says it is fine because I can do something that doesn’t require knee sleeves and lifting shoes, but it is okay. I already know that I am going to go in the gym and put on my extra pair of shoes, and fuck it, I don’t care if I have knee sleeves because my knees will survive one night without them. I am going to squat.
There is a brief period of time where I am in the I Am Not Sure If I Am Okay zone. I have this weird pain in my left hip that I’ve never had before and Emily diagonosis me and says it’s my glute something something and has me do all of these stretches with a band. If it were anyone else, I would think that they were just doing it to laugh at my fat ass as I roll around on the floor with a resistance band around my knees, but it is Emily so she is actually doing it to be helpful plus she probably knows that if I don’t manage to squat tonight I will have some sort of mental breakdown again.
Mental breakdown averted. I am back in my zone of squat enlightenment. I have 70 kg on the bar, and I realize that it doesn’t matter if I put any more weight on the bar. If I squat 70 kg over and over again for the entire night, it will be OKAY.
But, I don’t. I get through a few sets where my back feels tight and my knees are sore, and then things start to click and I decide that it’s time to write a new squat workout. Double Trouble. 3×70, 3×70, 3×80, 3×80, 3×90, 3×90, 3×100, 3×100, 3×105, 3×105, 3×110, 3×110, 3×115, 3×115, 2×120, 2×120, 1×125, 1×125 kg, and Zach and Emily are cheering for me during the last few sets in part because they love me and in part because they know we cannot go to McDonalds until I am done.
So, I stop after the second set at 125 kg because there are Double Quarter Pounders With Cheese calling our names, and we go stand in line at the slowest McDonalds on earth. We eat about a bajillion calories and a katrillion mg of sodium, but we figure out that I eat 75g of protein and Zach eats 84g of protein, so it’s all good.
Nick says that I have to learn to see things as they actually are – not better than they are, not worse than they are, but exactly as they are.
I can see things exactly as they are tonight.
And, everything is right in the universe.