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I usually make a nice, inspirational ppt presentation as my personal New Year’s greetings to my friends. Somehow I just can’t: I’ve got nothing inspirational, motivational or even optimistic to say to you about 2014. This is because 2013 has been possibly one of the most difficult ones in my life. Not bad, not sad, but difficult and enigmatic. I don’t have a precise analysis about this recent cycle neither concerning my life, or the greater reality.

But maybe this is the trick. You need to be face-to-face with the Sphinx once in a while. You need to be challenged beyond your skills. Otherwise you go linear: with some luck, you get better and better in what you are already good at, you work on the same weak spots you are familiar with for years and you are trapped into the illusion that life is linear.

It is not: I know it, you know it, it has been echoed by uncountable philosophers and poets and yet we fall again and again into the same trap of acting as if it were linear.

Let me start backwards: I had the most weird accident during a flight connection between Miami and Las Vegas on my way to the World Championship I was best prepared for in my whole life: the IPL Worlds. Turbulence plus lack of foot support resulted in compressed and inflamed nerve and several sprained muscles. I could hardly move. It was obvious I couldn’t compete: who would, with so much Vicodin and Flexeril in the head? Well, I did. I had fun, I won the open class, I refereed and I got back home in great pain. One of those cosmic coincidences made me have this accident (in hundreds of international flights in a lifetime) right before the “immunosuppressive window” that comes right after a major competition. I caught a nasty bug (bacteria). The nasty bug lodged on my spine and – boom –  I developed infectious spondylodiscitis, not before suffering excruciating pain for 44 days.

My year ended in a hospital bed listening to a stupid doctor say I would be immobilized for 6 months and go home with a catheter on my carotid. He was reported, expelled from my case, but, let’s face it: I can’t forget his sadistic speech as I lay completely stoned on morphine,  saying I’d never lift again.

I didn’t expect any of that. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t the least prepared for that. What if… no, I’m not going to write that down.

So here I am, facing the great unknown of reinventing the strongest and most invincible version of myself over two soft vertebrae. This is how my year ended.

It didn’t start well, either: I got dumped by a partner on a teaching project. After that, with the help of my two buddies – Andre and Diego – we created MAD Powerlifting, our pioneer strength training education and consultancy team. We were more successful than expected. MAD Powerlifting rocks!

I didn’t hand in the book manuscripts I promised to the publishing house – my bad. On the other hand I wrote some of the most insightful pieces and series in my career. One of them is already accepted as a book project by another major publishing house.

One good friend and partner faced the hardest challenge his small and thriving business ever did. It was scary. It involved delinquency on the part of powerful players. He survived, his business is well again and our partnership is as strong as ever.

On the day I lifted in Las Vegas against all odds, miles away, in DC, Victoria, the youngest member of our clan, was born. My painful victory and peaceful Victoria, on the same day.

I faced a lot of attacks and acts of hate. Threats, insults… The usual crap. But then again, they come with the choice: you don’t get to stick your finger into society’s putrid wounds without a reaction from those who benefit from them. Nothing new there.

I had my share of being screwed by people with no character, no honesty or no sanity. But then again, who doesn’t? Nobody that really mattered to me. Nothing new there either.

Life gets a little more complicated with every fuck up from dishonest or unreliable people, and that is stressful.

On the good side, I met wonderful people, inspiring people and true friends rose up to the occasion.

Also on the good side, my recovery is, again, miraculously fast.

This was an extremely painful year – honestly, I never felt so much pain. My greatest hero is the head of the Pain Management team at the hospital. A painful, dangerous, unpredictable and strange year.

But was it bad? No. Can’t say that. MAD Powerlifting is one big achievement, my writing was great, and the IPL Worlds, although far from what I was prepared to lift, may be considered my greatest sports achievement: I have no idea how I lifted with such a serious injury. But I did, and I had a great time, met wonderful people and will never forget that.

2014 looks good: we have many courses and workshops already scheduled, I was offered an amazing project (surprise!) and my competitive year is already planned.

All in all, this year was about surviving and saving what is sacred: powerlifting. It was about being strong all around, really.

So, I have nothing inspiring to say to you except that besides being strong, there is nothing that really matters that much. I thought I had that clear, but now I know that I didn’t. And now I do. And you should, too.