Photo by Roger McKeever
I joined the gym when I moved to Portland. This feels a little like I’m making a confession. I haven’t belonged to a gym since I was 20 years old working as a proofreader for a pharmaceutical company wearing a suit and tie to work 5 days a week. I actually liked my job. I made my way up the ranks a little before I was fired. I wasn’t fired because of incompetency. I was quite good at what I did. On the contrary, I was fired because I was too happy. Seriously. I decorated my cubicle with bright colors, plants and pictures. I smiled at everyone. One day, on my 15 minute scheduled break, I drew happy faces onto sticky notes and posted them all over the building– on the door handles, the wall above the urinals, next to cubicle name tags, on the coffeepot, etc.. I used the copier to make photocopy art. I wrote poetry about corporate blandness.
I was fired via the telephone on a Friday evening. The woman was sweet about it, and I wished her a good life. I think she liked me despite her corporate need to squelch the life out of people. I got off the phone and literally started laughing. I packed my bags and tossed them into my smoke gray ’83 Chevy Chevette (diesel), and the very next day I hit the road for a 2 week road trip.
My gym membership expired.
Not long after that I went to a yoga class, which was, in a good way, a little like getting run over by a train. My eyes opened. My brain fell out of my head. The teacher was using words I’d never heard before. It felt exotic. I didn’t walk out of that class, I floated! Yes, a lot of you recognize that feeling, right?
So, almost 20 years later, I find myself walking through the doors into a room of sweaty, buff men and women. I’ve been going 4 – 5 days a week, and I’m loving it. I’m using the tools of yoga to dance with the weights. I stand in tadasana with a lifted chest as I do arm curls. I do handstand in between sets. As I run on the treadmill I practice ujjai pranayama to keep a calm, focused energy. I still smile at people. One day I might even bring a sticky-pad to the gym with me!
Across the back of the gym there’s a big sign that reads: You have what it takes. I see that every time I go to the gym, and it reminds me of the untapped potential that lies dormant, just waiting. Oftentimes I add on to it: You have what it takes to be successful, to be happy, to be fulfilled, to laugh about life’s ups and downs.
So, the next time you’re stuck, in a blue funk, or a self-limiting belief takes the wheel remember: You have what it takes!