While I could spend some time thinking about gratitude any day, I think Thanksgiving serves as that national time we look around and remember the things we take for granted, the experiences that have happened over the year in such a way that gives us perspective moving forward. It reminds us who we are, what we've overcome or dealt with, and how we can be better as individuals and groups.
(In no particular order)
I'm really thankful for powerlifting, and for the hurricane of things it makes me feel, for the people I've met along the way, the opportunities it's provided me to learn more, to grow as a better person. Since last Thanksgiving, I got to prepare for a world championship for the second time, fly to a different country and represent the USA, ultimately walking away with a win. The community of people I've come to see and know ranges across ages, countries, interests and goals, mindsets related to powerlifting, temperaments, and so on. Despite all that, it's really cool we can bond over a barbell at our best moments, discover things about how to coach and train better and put more kilos on the barbell as time goes on. We get to use powerlifting as a teaching tool to learn patience, dedication, analysis and critical thinking, focus and calm under pressure, and perseverence.
In that wonderful umbrella of powerlifting, I get to thank the athletes who have let us serve them with The Strength Athlete. TSA started off as just me working with a handful of people and has expanded to a roster of coaches, each with their own strengths and coahing skills. The athletes have all put massive amounts on their totals, but more importantly, they've grown as people--learning to better assess and modify their own training without the guiding hand of an ever-present coach, learning to approach sets with repeatability and performance mindsets, refine techniques, treat lifting as art and science. This year, we've crossed our five year anniversary and have looked back and seen all the growth we've made in coaching abilities. How to better individualize volume and intensity, how to connect and meet athletes where they are, how to make better game day strategies. It's been a sometimes painful process full of mistakes and triumphs. In those moments where athletes succeed, I think we get to really be thankful we're here helping on the other side of the screen. To the athletes, thank you. You let us help you in the best ways.
The coaches I've gotten to know over these years have formed and made TSA what it is, and I'm truly thankful for their service, their hard work, their humanity. I've formed deep friends in Eric, Hani, Chris, and Joe and have leaned on them in times of deep depression, maybe not as much as I could have. I'm looking forward to year 6 and year 10, my friends, and seeing what we can keep making better for athletes.
My own personal journey in sport this past year felt like a really rocky one, and I feel like I never took the time to appreciate everything for what it was. Instead I often just felt bad about performances, about a lack of progress in a few areas. I spent more time dwelling on the negative than remembering how wonderful powerlifting is, how good even a bad day really is in the scale of things. I'll try to be better about that this year...to stop and smell the roses. Despite that, I learned that pain doesn't mean bad performances (all the time), and I learned that sometimes a step back really does mean a few steps forward.
This is in part thanks to my wonderful coach, Eric Helms. Eric has been a guiding light for me not only in powerlifting, but in life; he is a mentor, a role model, and a wonderful human and I just feel like the luckiest dude. Eric, I strive to take the best in you and make it my own. Thanks for being there with me in dark times just as you are in good ones. I dont know where I'd be in life, let alone lifting, without you.
Last year around this time, I was in a relatively shitty place, having recently ended a divorce and kind of trying to find a way forward into who I am and what I want to be going forward. I needed to remember what I cared about, who I was in my own right, how to be me. That process feels like it's not quite over, but getting much better and out of some dark places where I felt like there was no place for me in the world. I'm thankful to be alive, to have my brain and body. I'm thankful for my health and well-being, my personal history and memories and for the time I get to be alive. Despite a divorce, I'm thankful for the memories I've experienced, good and bad, that helped shape me into who I am today. At the same time I'm okay letting them go and creating a future for myself.
To that end, I'm so, so thankful for Natalie and the person she is, how easy and wonderful it is to be around her, about our shared sense of humor and opinions, her beautiful smile. I'm thankful for her guidance in my darkest times, her company in the best of times, her companionship. She listens to me, she takes care of me and I try my hardest to do the same in return. I love you.
My dad and brother, I love you guys. Though we're separate by some miles, no love is lost and I can't wait to see you guys again. I love our catchups, I can do better to make for more of them and more often.
Thinking on John Rawl's theory of the veil of ignorance, "I" could have been born in any gender, ethnicity, location, social status, health, and so on. I'm thankful to have been born healthy and I know that I've benefitted from being a white male.
I'm thankful for all the leaders of the past who have shaped the world for what it is, for the critical thinkers who have pushed past the archaic ideas and fairy tales of the past into a future we can all be proud of. Through hard work and sacrifice they've pursued their own passions to make the lives of people they have never or will never meet, measured over science, health, medicine, agriculture, social rights and freedoms, and economy. When I visited the Nobel Museum, I was humbled in the presence of how mighty and varied their accomplishments were, and I know that scratches at the surface of the true breadth of individuals leading the way.
We're sensing beings, so I'm thankful for my eyes and ears, hands and feet, that I get to experience the world in the brief time I get to spend here.
I'm thankful for my dog Sequoia who has weathered many storms with me. She is a blessing every time I come home. I smile multiple times a day at her sheer presence. I love her.
I'm thankful for my small apartment with concrete floors and minimal furniture. I feel safe, centered, and both sufficient and self-sufficient in it.
I'm thankful for music, for experiences that you're so elated you can't put into words.
I'm thankful for technology and social media that despite its shortcomings, allows me to reach across the world in a way I have never been able to before, to create in ways I've never been able to.
I'm thankful for the travel I've gotten to do! I never thought I would ever travel as often as I have been. This year I've been to many places and soaked in so many wonderful experiences, half or more where powerlifting has been the motivator and thing allowing me to experience these.
I feel like there's a ton that I take for granted, that there's this background of existence that you have to, by pure fact that you can't constantly be in gratitude of every facet of existence, just continue on. Its those times those things are taken away that you really notice the value in their presence. I'm thankful for that opportunity.
Inexhaustive list, but I'm thankful that I get to close this laptop and get into a kitchen with warm food with a roof over my head, with people I love, in a house I'm safe in. I think we're built on a global network of interconnected successes, failures, transactions and histories and I have to be thankful that it brought me to here, in this brief slice of the universe's history.
I dunno man, I just feel very undeserving and I feel that way most of the time. All I can do is try to keep being better and connecting in authentic ways, and aim to live a life I build, with help from people I love, into something I care about.