How do you measure a man? How do you weigh a woman’s worth? Is it the deeds we do, the stuff we save, the places we pray, or the professions we practice? Can you quantify the quality of a gym/box? We are at times so obsessed with leaderboards in CrossFit – who is leading in life? Does placing a value of worth on a life or WOD have anything to do with each other? Am I going to do anything besides ask questions this post?
Yes. Or at least I’m going to try.
I think about my death somewhat frequently. Not in a morbid sense of how will I die; I don’t ponder if it will be an automobile wreck, a bullet wound, or very old in my own bed. I think about my funeral. More precisely, I think about who will attend my funeral. Have I touched anyone enough throughout the course of my life that they would want to come pay final respects to me? Would people miss me when I am gone? What would someone think of when my name was mentioned after I’d gone cold?
Last week I had a man who played an important role in my life pass away. He was my Scoutmaster while I was in Boy Scouts. That meant I spent nearly every Monday evening with Bobby at Scout meetings, and Friday and Saturday nights once a month for campouts. That’s a lot of time, especially at that young, impressionable age. (For the record, yes, I am an Eagle Scout.)
Bobby, like all humans, was a complex person. Or, maybe complex isn’t the correct word; Bobby was diverse. He was a successful businessman and family man. He was nice and approachable but quick to scold if you stepped out of line. He liked big fires and fancy knives. He taught respect by giving it. He was overweight and smoked a lot. He was the only person I’ve ever known to own a model “Navajo” car. He was my Dad’s friend.
He lived his life his way; Bobby was a free-spirit. And this free-spiritedness probably lead to his most identifiable characteristic – his laugh. Bobby’s unmistakable, unbridled laugh. This laugh was part chuckle, part hee-haw, part cackle, and part atomic bomb. My favorite was bringing up some sort of BS to Bobby. His laugh would turn into the word shit, but would come out as Shee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!!! Think of Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction saying his shee-it version, except Bobby would never get to the T on the end.
That was my initial thought when I heard the news that Bobby had died – his laugh. I think that is a good lasting first-image to leave behind. It speaks of Bobby’s personality, about how unapologetic he was about how he lived his life and about how he never took himself too seriously. A million mentions of smoking is going to kill you were probably uttered to him, and with good reason, because it did. Bobby would laugh those mutterings off just as he laughed most everything off. Bobby had his code and right or wrong, he owned that code. He knew who he was. He was very comfortable in his own skin.
How many of us can say that? How many of us are truly comfortable and happy with the person we are? Not many huh? I certainly cannot say that I am.
Did Bobby’s laughter define who he was as a person? No, not exactly. But it was an outward projection of who he was. The laugh reflected a man who loved his life his way. His laugh was genuine because he was genuine. Bobby did good to others, even when not doing the best for himself. Bobby did his daily good turn.
The world is a little less fun without his laughter.
Today was the virgin WODing of the 865 Benchmark WOD. This WOD featured the debut of running “the hill”, a fairly steep incline that is as treacherous going down as it is ass-kicking going up. The workout was: run the hill, then 4 rounds of 8 deadlifts (225/155 lbs), 6 strict pull-ups (no kips!), 5 burpees, and then one more hill run. Awesome workout! So glad to have this as my box’s official WOD! The hill run definitely gets your heart pumping, the deadlifts are heavy enough, strict pull-ups are a testament to the foundational strength and movement knowledge that Jesse wants to install in all of us, and burpees because… well why not burpees?? And that last hill run… ouch. That’s a killer.
Here’s the hill. I tried to take the most elevation-showing photo but I didn’t really capture the scale well. Trust me, it’s a big hill! The photo was taken at the bottom, the turn-around point. The building up at the top houses CrossFit 865.
You can see my results below. I am happy to say I did the benchmark Rx. One thing I’m not happy about is I had to take a few walking steps up the hill on the second run and I had to do one pull-up then drop off the bar for all six on my last round.
Notice something wrong with that photo? Sure, you can see my time but what else can you see? Not much else right, everything is blurred out? That’s my point.
How many of us look at a leaderboard just like that picture depicts? (I’m raising my hand!) We focus on the numbers on the leaderboard. We focus on the score, the reps, the time, did they do it Rx? What do we miss when we lock on the numbers? We miss the names on the leaderboard.
More than anything, CrossFit 865 represents a collection of names that more closely resembles a family than merely gym members. I count some of those names on the board as my closest friends.
So what represented the box the most? Was it the hill? The deadlifts? Pull-ups? Burpees?
No, none of the above.
What represented 865 the most was the cheering that happened for everyone doing the WOD. Coaches were coaching but also cheering and motivating us along, pushing us. When those of us going down the hill passed those trekking back up it, we would nod or give words of encouragement or fist bump or slap five. The early finishers caught their breath and then came back out to cheer the slower ones on. Some even met the remaining athletes at the middle of the hill and ran the last little bit with them up to the summit and to the completion of the WOD.
That is what CrossFit and 865 and family is all about. Yes, numbers and times and total fitness are important. But that isn’t the only thing that matters. Even a Games level CrossFitter still embraces the family and camaraderie of the sport. The bonds of friendship we create are greater than any elite fitness that may be forged.
Good deeds. A warm smile. Putting others first. Cheering on the last finisher. A hearty laugh. Those are the universal “good traits” that everyone can agree on. When those characteristics are present in a person, we deem that person as good. It’s not the clothes that make the man. It surely isn’t how much weight that bro can bench press that makes a man. How do you measure a man? You measure a man by using his daily deeds as his lasting legacy. If you want to be known as good, then do good. It’s that simple.
Be comfortable in your skin. It isn’t hard to be comfortable doing good. Good feels… good. Follow your dreams. Have passion for something. Believe in yourself. Sweat every day. Eat clean but have some crap every now and then. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. Run up a hill. Run down a hill. Pick up heavy weight. Tell people you love them. Live. Above all else, live your life.
And don’t forget to laugh.