The Birth of Athena

lift the weight. fight the power. eat the candy.

The Grind

The clock turns 5.15AM and your alarm radio goes off. Obnoxious radio DJs make their way into your ear drums as you fight your eyes open – Time to rise and shine.

You hit the coffee harder than healthy to unstick your eyelids. You have shit to do though, before you clock on. You have to walk your dogs, pack food, and make yourself pretty. It’s the societal standard to make yourself look nice to go sit in front of a computer all day but even if it is silly, you still feel the need to comply. Getting ready for work is always a task. It’s not that you dislike your job. It’s just…well, it’s still a job. It’s time spent five days a week working for someone else. You wish you had that time to yourself; you wish you could spend that 40+ hours a week pursuing your passions and dreams.

As you drive to the office, your music blares out your open window. This is your morning routine – commuting with your music just a little too loud and a little too hard for 7.30AM. You like to wake people up; Also, it just feels good to be a little bit ornery.

The office feels comfortable most days. You like your coworkers – they’re nice people. And your job is important to you, in a sort of weird and convoluted way. Is it what you would like to do with your time? Not really. But, because you spend so much time doing it and it’s not actually bad, you feel the need to be good at it. You want to be good at it. That’s is just who you are. Why do something if you aren’t going to give it your all, even if it’s something required to live? The urge to be good at anything you do has been with you your entire life. You’ve never been able to shake it, even when you wanted to. It’s just a part of who you are.

By lunch time, you are ready to leap out of your chair. You are antsy. Sitting still and quiet most days is nearly unbearable. Working hard it fine, it’s just that the sitting quietly takes a toll on your personhood. Walking around the block helps some, but not enough. You feel wild. You want to be free. An animalistic urge to gallop around the sidewalks downtown rises into your gut. You want to feel the wind breeze through your hair. You want to gallop and whoop and startle people. Somedays, when the sun is sharp and intense, it’s difficult to urge yourself back inside to eat nuked leftovers for lunch. Even if you eat to satiation, leftovers never feel satisfying. Leftovers are just never as good as a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant or a large, cozy morning breakfast.

The white-collared life is like that – satiating, but never all the way satisfying. It gets the job done, if you know what I mean. It helps you with your purpose in life, gives you goals to strive for – things that are necessitated by a certain aspect of the human condition. Humans become mushy balls of greed and remorse without purpose and goals. Careers and normal life give you these things, but for some of us – they are never quite enough. They always feel just a little off.

The second half the of day is nearly identical to the first half, however, it feels like time dilation kicks in. Hours and minutes stretch on as you feel those 2PM sleepy blues. For the most part, and for most people, this is life. Sure, the weeks are broken up by the weekends – beautiful days that you get to spend with your friends and loved ones doing the things you thoroughly enjoy, but for the most part this is it – days filled with colleague chit chat and warmed tupperware dishes.

And some days, this – this daily grind – is enough; Somedays, it is enough to feel satiated.

And on the days that it is not – well, you have to have to find a way to feel satisfied – satisfied with who you are as a person and what you are doing in with your life. I think a lot of people find ways to feel the void left by the 9-to-5 life. Partying, vacations, drinking too much, buying too much – most people find something in their life that makes them feel just a bit more alive. You – you find something else.

It takes an hour in rush hour traffic to get you to your destination. So many cars and people all trying to leave their 40 hour a week misery at the same time. It feels like it takes forever, especially since the sun has already set. Damn winter skies.

You walk through the front doors and are greeted by a pretty girl with a shiny ponytail; However you are so focused on the task at hand, you barely muster out a “Hi.” It’s just one of those days. It’s not that you dislike her or people. It is just that today, talking feels forced.

You carry your bag to the locker room in the back and take your time changing. In the time it took you to drive here from work, the floor became more crowded than you like. Yeah, you could choose a different gym – one that is closer to work or home, but this gym is nice. It has older men who have lifted for decades, women who compete in bodybuilding, and a younger group of people too intimidated by the big box crowd. It’s a group of people who are friendly, but mostly keep to themselves. So you keep coming.

You put your headphones in as you make your way to the rack. You turn your music louder to block out the obnoxious 80s hair metal blaring over the speakers. You feel tired. That’s how they get you, though. Working a job makes everyone tired. But being tired won’t kill you. At least, not yet.

You start warming up. Everything feels heavy today and your breathing is hindered. You are uncomfortable. But it doesn’t matter. You keep pushing. Up and down. Down and up.

You add more weight to the bar. You feel your blood pulsing through your veins. Your nose is running. Up and down. Down and up. Spit involuntarily shoots from your mouth and onto the mirror in front of you. It is greeted by a smattering of spit marks.

More weight. Your focus reins in. Your vision blurs.

More weight. Your legs are starting to feel like jello.

More weight. Up and Down. Down and up. You imagine your face is turning purple as it feels likes your skin will burst like a grape with the pressure.

More weight. And you grind. Up and down. Down and up. And it hurts. Your legs burn and your nose is snotty. Your back feels crunchy under the bar. Your arms tremble and  involuntary grunts escape your throat. You grind.

And in that time, with the weight pushing you down and you fighting to stand back up, you feel wild. You feel ornery and uncomfortable and wild. What you are doing is hard – harder than most things you do in your regular life, but it satisfies. Your mind quiets and the world melts away as you grunt and slurp for air. It’s uncomfortable, often painful, it’s trying, and the equipment is made out of metal, but it feels natural. This – this grind, it grounds you. It fills you in a way your quiet  life just cannot and possibly should not.

And that is why you grind. Up and down. Down and up.

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