I'm sad. I'm sad that my favorite trainer is leaving, the one that pushes me to both remember and find what my body and mind can do. But actually, I'm mad. I'm mad that I am not my favorite trainer, that I haven't taken notes that mean I can continue to challenge myself, by myself. All the time while I let her plan the workouts like meals I gobbled down, I should have been learning to fish.
I spent my professional life working on some aspect of capacity building. My most recent conversation took place over the (re)creation of book lists charged with being "diverse" for high school student use. I stared at the current multicultural book lists and my website links. The books as they currently stood were diverse, technically, with an international scope but the purpose of diversity as relationships was missing.
"The books are the bait," I told Rene. Their classification system is the packaging."
"I love that. The teachers expect us to have the list you know, to be the experts."
"I hate that word, expert." I gathered my things ready to head for home.
"I know." She flicked off the lights in the library room where we had been meeting.
"So what are my next steps?" I met her eyes. “For the book list.”
"See what the development of the list looks like. What the group wants to do."
The next day my response to that question was, "You can recommend a few books." So, the group didn’t want to do anything. Or at least they didn’t want to talk about it. I was sad. I was sad that people think receiving the bait is the important part when so much happens while you’re fishing. I don’t even fish, but I know enough to know that subtleties exist in the time of day, the place, how long to wait, how hard to pull, when to pull, and in the kind of bait itself. When thought about it, actually I was mad. I was mad that no one wanted to learn to fish. Then I remember again that I hadn’t either.
I flashed my mind back to a workout early on with my favorite trainer where I was assigned to create my own spin ride. "You'll challenge yourself more," she had instructed. That had been her experience. I was lost. I had no idea what went together or why. When should I go fast? For how long? Then what? Climb a hill? Run on a hill? I stood up with low tension and sprinted.
"Stop. Did someone show you that?" My trainer had spotted me.
"You'll hurt your knees. You need more tension to sprint like that standing up."
I had no idea. I just wanted to pick something hard. I used to think that was all I needed, to make it hard. “Become out of breath,” I had instructed myself. Hurt during and/or after. But what would that get me actually? I was sad that I had done it "wrong". I was mad that she had asked me to.
I checked my work e-mail obsessively. So, what were my next steps?
I signed up for my trainer's class one more time but this time my jokes about understanding her choices that have taken the form mostly of compliments need to have follow through. I would hold myself accountable to asking “why”?
I analyzed the current book lists, listing my own questions. I would hold the group accountable for knowing “why”?
I found aspects of the exercises in common about how my trainer groups the exercises for maximum effect. That would hold me accountable to asking “why”?
I could e-mail my colleague with a brainstorm list of possible book groupings and their purposes in an attempt to place the pole in her hand, even though I have technically filled the baby swimming pool with plenty of fish. That would hold the group accountable for knowing “why?”
“Do you want to punch me?” my trainer had asked after she announced her decision to leave.
“No,” In actuality I craved my trainer's little black book where she wrote down her reflections in possible workouts at any given moment in the day. In many ways, the only thing my colleagues wanted from me was that same resource. The irony tasted salty in my mouth and slightly acidic. Too much lemon or the fish was rotten because it had sat too long. Fish was best fresh after all, as were the books on the book list or an exercise that was selected for my body today and not yesterday or a month from now. I would have to make time to be gone fishin'.