This is the time of the year when I write “I’m leaving”. Actually, I’m always leaving. I have never belonged anywhere. Nowhere, except one place. In 2006, as I entered this small gym hidden in the middle of a Brazilian slum and saw the colorful Olympic disks for the first time, I thought to myself: “I will never leave this place”. I was right. But “place” was not a geographical location. It was the universal place all powerlifters feel at home: under a loaded bar. Apart from that, I remain the nomad outsider I have always been.
Soundtrack: Ruby Tuesday
Sunday I will fly to Las Vegas. I will lift at the WPC World Powerlifting Championship. Later on, December 1st, I will lift at the RPS Christmas Carnage. I am happy about this trip. The period before that has been an unintentional senoid of performance. Ironically, I have illustrated the point I have been insisting on for long about the difficulty in periodizing high performance. My performance plummeted after the incident in Rio Grande do Sul: the aggressions I suffered and its dramatic physical, psychological and social consequences. I lost my strength, I lost a tendon and a muscle, I lost faith, I lost a dream, but worst of all, I lost two friends. Forever.
I accept the things I cannot change. Especially the wounds.
Whose fault? I have pointed fingers at many. I got tired. Even the most cold blooded criminals have motives, a rationale for action, reasons. They have a context and, in a certain sense, they are justified. Life usually provides the horrors that make them what they are.
Playing : “Nobody’s fault”
Talking about wounds, I lost a muscle, part of another and a tendon. For some time, I didn’t know whether I would be able to deadlift again. I did, though. And as soon as I made up my mind to completely let go of all organizative responsibility, my strengths returned. All my strengths. Suddenly, it became clear to me that all the shit happening in the sport and in the world were not only not my fault, but neither my responsibility to fix them. I couldn’t understand why the obviousness of this fact had never been visible to me. I finally accepted the things I could not change, especially the wounds. I was in peace.
There is sadness, but there is peace. There is peaceful sadness. I accept the things I cannot change. I accept my sadness and as I turn my back on what’s behind the boarding gate, people fade away. Inside me, just pure sadness, pure peace, pure freedom. And out of that mixture, a new, pure, happiness.
Soundtrack: “as tears go by” and “for no one”
Playing: “La liberté est blue”
Accepting the things I cannot change also means having the courage to change those I can. But the really awesome thing I discovered is that there is a line missing in the serenity prayer: the wisdom to know the difference is not the only wisdom to embrace. The real wisdom is to spot those things that are worth changing and that make sense to me to face the challenge of changing. There are a lot of things I can change. That doesn’t mean I need to do it. Just having the courage to change them would be a step back. Letting pass chances to change things is wise. Many things aren’t worth changing and others just fall into the category of the things I have the right to take no action against.
I have a legion of unnecessary enemies. People that could be either only slightly weary or indifferent to me. Yet they came to hate me as a consequence of unnecessary self-righteousness on my part.
I stopped reacting. I stopped replying. Not only as an option, refraining from some inherent impulse for imposing the truth, the ethical imperative or whatever moral bullshit drove me before. I stopped reacting because I really don’t care.
So you want to advocate crazy people like me should be dead? Fine: I’ll be careful as I cross the street. That my ideas and arguments are insulting? Fine, too. Couldn’t care less. That I’m ugly because you don’t like whatever I represent? That’s ok. That I’m not such a great lifter? That so and so is much better than me? Good for you. I praise everybody who deserves praising. While you construct your argument with intricate comparisons involving different equipment use, bodyweight category and procedures I go on with my “there’s no such thing as the best” discourse.
There’s some dangerous feeling of detachment as I look around and it finally sinks in that my conception of a sports competition is completely deviant. It gets worse: as I delve deeper into this line of sociological criticism of sports governance, athlete’s motivations and other items that constitute modern sport, sometimes I feel I don’t belong there.
But I do. As long as I keep a safe distance from the sources of conflict, I can silently follow my own agenda.
Pluralism is the name of the game. Tolerance. Accepting the things I cannot change, especially my wounds. And most of all, other people’s mind and behavior.
I die, I am reborn, I turn inside out, but do I really change? After all, I’ve been pathetically cheated on again. Trusted promises with no contract, lost time, energy, a lot of money and the only one to blame is me. Those who managed to deceive me are typical Brazilian businesspeople, sports organizers or just ordinary people. I live in a land where dishonesty is charming and glamorous. What else should I expect? It’s not bad, reproachable or evil: it’s local culture, period.
As once again I leave, as once again I raise from the dead, I leave behind dreams, hopes but also horrifying discoveries and a great deal of pain. This is liberating.
Nothing really matters. It’s good to say good-bye.
In the end, there’s only Strength and Freedom.
Playing “this is your life”
Playing: “in the End”