Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spend It

"When you get to the last set, if you feel like you have anything left, I want you to give it everything you have.  You leave everything in the gym."  That's what He-who-trains said yesterday, as he was taking me through my new, total body (i.e. "You'll be so sore you can't move tomorrow, and so tired, you'll go to bed before the sun sets") weight lifting program.

The last several months, I've been doing workouts that have target 2-3 muscle groups.  For compound motions (the ones that involve more than one joint moving), I've generally been doing 6 reps.  But yesterday, He-who-trains instructed me to move up to 12 reps (or 20 on a few exercises.)  My body had gotten pretty comfortable with the "old" way of doing things, but He-who-trains reminded me that that's what the body does.  It adapts.  In order to change, it continually needs to be challenged and kept off balance.  And challenged it was.  By time I finished my warm up rotation, my muscles were already quivering-- and I knew that after another four rotations, I was going to be toast.  On the last rotation, everything was a struggle.  It was a struggle, sometimes, to even move the weight to the starting position. But I wasn't going to quit.  I knew that I still had it in me, even if I had to dig pretty deep to find it.

He-who-trains happened to be standing behind me on one of these last exercises and saw me fighting to finish.  He said, "Get mad, Kim.  Get mad." I was tired enough that I may be making this last part up, but what I heard is "Use it. Use your anger to push you through." In a slow motion nanosecond as I held the weight, I saw my frustration at not losing for the last ten weeks.  I saw my anger at my body for throwing a temper fit.  I saw my need to conquer.   In the end, I was one rep short of my goal.  But I knew I had given everything I had to give.  I know that next time, I'll push until I make it.  I now know the meaning of the saying on my well-worn Tae Kwon Do shirt: Go Hard or Go Home.

But in a world that says, "Play it safe" and "Take it easy" and "Don't overdo it" and "Save some for later" that seems counterintuitive.  You never know what you may need to do the rest of the day-- doesn't it make some sense to reserve some energy? That's what we do with our finances, the love we have to give, our wisdom and even our very selves.  We save some, just in case we need it.

Several years ago, I had a preaching professor quote this from Annie Dillard.

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
 She was talking about writing sermons, about saving that "brilliant" illustration for later, but the quote has always stuck with me--because it applies to so much.

Whatever it is I have-- whatever gifts and passions and energies I have-- I want to use them all, boldly and fearlessly, without regard for what I might need later. Newspaper columnest Erma Bombeck said, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say 'I used everything you gave me.'"

I've learned a lot of life lessons in the gym, and here's a new one for the list:  Spend it.  Energy and fire do no good sitting in reserve.  Use them to fuel your drive to achieve.