Saturday, November 9, 2013


He-who-trains is all about the mental imagery when he wants to make a memorable point. He lectured me about intensity for a while, but apparently I wasn't getting it.  Until he came up to me and said... well, uh... what he said isn't entirely appropriate since he's a little crass, but the idea was "I want you working so hard that your face looks like you're *passing* a cactus."  I can't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure he made some equally graphic sound effects to go with his demonstration face. Ok, ok... file that under TMI.

Graphic though it was, I've not forgotten.  Of course, no one else at the gym has either.  There's never a day that someone doesn't reference cactus passing.  Some days, I'm really afraid that the universal parent wisdom is true, and that my face my actually get stuck that way. That would be truly unfortunate. The cactus passing face isn't pretty.

But what's less pretty is the being face of mediocrity. I've kinda been all about the comfort-zone, and maybe didn't realize that applied to more than just the gym. It's been my path: do what's safe, easy and known. I'm the mild salsa kinda person because anything with too much sizzle can't be good.  I've been thinking about intensity a lot lately.  I was at a writer's retreat a few weeks ago, and one of our phrases was "Bring the heat!" Of course, that's easier to apply to words than it is to life. 

He-who-trains has ruined cacti for me. But had he not given me this overly graphic image, I would've probably pranced along (ok, to be fair, I don't think I've ever pranced...but I could start) in my comfort zone-- which is decidedly not where progress happens.  Or as the graphic floating the interwebs puts it:

The problem is that this is true.  About everything. 

It's true about weight loss.  It's true about becoming the person you want to be.  It's true about living as passionately and creatively as you imagine yourself living. 

People, for the most part, are comfort zone dwellers.  We make decisions based solely on maintaining homeostastis, and not causing waves, or throwing a proverbial wrench in any works, or not fixing what's not broken. We keep the same style of clothes we've worn for decades (and label ourselves "classic", even though "retro" might be a better fit.) We keep the same job--even if we wake up growling every single day for years.  We do things that no longer suit us, just because someone expects us to.  As a pastor, I see it in the church. We hold on, franctically, to the way things have always been, and seek to "maintain" at all costs.  We're afraid to want something badly enough to have to truly pour our blood, sweat and fears into it.

There's a line that says "What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." I'm tired of comfortable, wheel-spinning, insanity.  I choose intensity.  Even if I have to make a really ugly face.