I’m a counter. I watch the clock. I want to do exactly what I’m asked to do. I don’t want to do any more, nor any less. I wish I could be told what is enough, exactly. Instead I count. Exactly. I count mountain climbers and squat jumps and push ups and back rows. Is it for time? Or, for count? Count is better. I can make a count come out even, even if I have to alternate sides. Sometimes. Exact. Almost. Exactly.
My trainer models each station. Her words move my body in my head and then the kettle bells in the air. Rack. Press. No bounce. All shoulder. No butt. Hold the bell elbow by my ear. Lung backwards with the same leg. Tap the rough turf floor with my knee. Step back up, forward. Repeat on the other side.
Twenty six pounds and I switch easily back and forth. The next round, I try thirty five. I do both sides twice. I look up at the tablet ticking timer. Five seconds to go. I could do one side, but not both. I have to be even. I wouldn’t be even. I rack the bells. To save time. I do not press. I do not want to ask more of one arm than the other. I lunge backwards with one leg. Tap. I lunge backwards with the other knee. Tap. My trainer sees me.
“You have to press.”
“I know. I-”
“Everyone’s doing what they want.”
“No. I. I didn’t have time. I wouldn’t have been even.” She already turned. “I challenged myself with the heavier weight but I didn’t make it to another set. So, I racked and worked both legs.” At the far end of the room, I don’t think she hears me.
I review my words after my trainer stopped listening and moved onto coaching someone else. She’s used to shaking her head at me anyway. Anyway, what? What had I done? I made things even. What does that mean? Should I have gone extra instead? Should I have let the one side do more? What was the right answer? An answer. . .
In fitness, it’s not karma, the idea of balance. In my life, I’m not sure what balance is. A way to measure impact? My impact. My trainer counts differently. She marks foot contact and heavy plates for few repetitions. It doesn’t feel like it makes a difference. The lift? Or me?
I drive past Culver’s so that I don’t become a temporary custodian of plastic.
I buy a reusable coffee filter so that I don’t have to buy paper filters. Paper, or plastic?
I avoid paper towels, but spend water on washing cloth ones.
No bounce. All shoulder. I bare the weight, but how do I bear its weight?
My dog waits for me to come home, but when I'm home, we're still not together.
No butt. But, what is my cost of when I make an exception? Who is counting anyway?
Me. I refer an organization to a service they need.
Hold the bell elbow by my ear. Lung backwards with the same leg. Tap the rough turf floor with my knee. It scrapes. It burns.
For the next two rounds, I lifted the thirty five, but wasn’t even. On the final round, I prepared the pair of twenty six. I switched halfway through and only went over time a little.
No one noticed. Not at the gym. Nor the office.
I struggle in the office to walk.
I walk by closed doors.
Transparent, but closed.
It’s only when you drop the weight that anyone will notice.
“Share a compliment,” the meeting facilitator asks.
In the room of mostly women, most answers are “You’re a good mom.”
I’m not a mom.
So, who can I count on to tell me that it mattered?
Thank you. No, thank you. No thank you.
Step back up, forward. Repeat on the other side.
I return to my desk. I glance at the clock. It’s ticking, but I can’t see the hands.
I look at my own, calloused from the kettle bells.
Not much time left.
I wouldn’t be even. I rack the bells. I do not press. I lunge backwards with one leg. Tap. I lunge backwards with the other knee. Tap.
But, she doesn’t knock. She walks past my door.
Did I miss one? Did I miscount? Did I not make my count?
As long as I wear my gloves, my palms won’t split open.
Not a lack of toughness, but a layer of protection.
I count that much.
Still, it matters not to always do the work out where I need protection.
On the weekend, when I go to the gym. I climb onto the spin bike and laugh to myself. Even. This class is never even, but I attend every week. I push hard up the hill, make it steeper each time. All that hard work and I never go anywhere. Start on the bike in one place, end in one place. Always up hill, never enjoy the down. So what is the point? I look down at the lines on the resistance lever.
The point is to do what I can, the best that I can, when I can. Don’t look to the side. Don’t compare the lines. Don’t count for you, or anyone else. Is the universe measuring? Even if it is, life isn’t even.
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