S T R E N G T H Yellow tribal font greets me at eye level gliding by me as I head down the hallway to the steep stairwell, concrete block stretches above and below me as I descend into the basement of Gold’s gym. Mickey Mouse my constant companion bounces on my back keeping my keys, socks, shoes, and sunglasses in tow. My finger is hooked into the white plastic top of my daughter’s purple Nalgene. Water sloshes audibly as I take the last step off the stair.
“DIG! DIG! DIG!” she is shouting at us over the driving beat of the music. Her words seem to mix in with flashes of neon light that spark in a rhythmic, and relentless looping pattern of sharp vivid color. My body is slick with sweat. It even takes effort to keep my hands on the handlebar because they could easily slip off. My legs groan in protest, and there is a faint unpleasant twinge in my lower hip that adds to the physical noise. My body is trying to resist as the first big hit of effort comes. “No DIG! THAT’S WHY YOU CAME HERE! YOU CAME HERE TO LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FLOOR!” I reach down into my core and pull energy from within and send it to my legs. I keep my shoulders down, my hips tucked, my hands loose, my elbows in. I check my form and lower my head and dig.
P O W E R it feels as though I have woken it up from a deep sleep. Power is here. and It is fully present and awake. I feel euphoric as if my body, mind, and spirit are gathered around a table made of power and they are in a deep conversation as to the state of affairs that is me. “This is why you are here. “ says the Body “You are here to be a physical force in the world.” “No,” says the Mind “You are here to bear witness, gather it all in, and work to inspire others to think with you.” The Spirit looks back at them and just smiles and says nothing. Nothing needs to be said.
“COME ON! DON’T GIVE UP! YOU CAN DO THIS!” My blue bandanna is dark with sweat and I look at her form and compare it to mine. I put my weight over the seat and loosen my grip. Finding my balance and driving my energy down to the pads of my feet. My feet are locked into the pedals and my muscles work in tandem as I actively work to control my breathing. Controlling your breath will save your life. My head starts to swivel as though I am swimming taking in air to the right, breathing it out as I turn my head down, and taking in air to the left. Again and again and again. Words are incomprehensible now just babbling. Now an image comes I am in the water alone swimming just me and the world. Inside my heart is beating and it is clad with kindness. For those who would come to pick it apart, there is no chance because the love that has grown from an ember was set ablaze a long ago.
L O V E My mother, my father, my sister, my brothers, nieces, nephews, all my aunts, uncles, cousins. My husband, my children, my friends. They are the ones who keep the fire burning. Even those who are no longer with me. Maybe; especially those who are no longer with me because once you start a fire it continues to burn even after you’ve left the room. This is why I am here this why I just need to dig deep and try do my best leave it all on the floor because this it this the life I get. All that I am is an extension of love. Be that and burn brightly.
S T R E N G T H says goodbye as I head down the hallway to the glass door. I am tired. I am drenched. Billowing heat envelops me as I step outside into the morning light. I am me and that is enough. I am me and that is who I was always meant to be. I am me. That is enough.