You can see it etched upon the grim countenances of runners, Iron-man athletes and the like. They have pushed their bodies beyond all reason, beyond all limits and it shows upon their faces as exhausted exuberance and excruciating pain as they collapse at the finish line in battered heaps.
Those who have never felt it, never hit that wall and blown clear through it will never understand the desire to push yourself that hard. It changes you forever, changes your understanding of impossible. People watching on the sidelines shake their heads and wonder what the hell is wrong you, why would you do that to yourself.
Why? Because your pain defines you, transforms you from who you were into the who you want to be. You become more than just another person living, a survivor, you become a conqueror, you are truly alive.
Pain does that, makes you know you are still alive, still in the game. Years ago I would slide under a barbell with 500 pounds on it and squat until I’d puke, not a pretty image I’m sure, but a badge of honor just the same. To focus so intently upon a specific goal, to ride the waves of agony as they build within you until your body can physically take no more and then force it to just that. Do more, try harder, push further, that is what makes you - real.
But it changes you, pushing that hard. Changes your perspective on life, on what strength really is. Everyday life becomes easy, you become a master of your own domain, the body that you live within. Not just the mastery of muscle over bone, but the power of the mind over the fear of failure. Courage is not the denial of fear, but rather the defiance of it.
I wouldn’t trade a single one of my many aches and injuries. I earned the pain I feel today. I am defined by it surviving it.
Everyday is a challenge, everyday is a battle of wills. Failure, that little voice in my head, says lay down, stay in bed, but that is not my way.
I am defined by my pain. It lets me know that I am still alive. And everyday I smile in the face of it and say – "Is that the best you got?"