It was just a friendly challenge. My new work out buddy threw the flag as we were sweating it out one evening in the gym. But, I could not do it. I resisted for reasons that were not clear. Now, it is something I am compelled to conquer. Let me tell you about the box.
First, a quick recap. I have been here in Big Bend National Park for over a month. I am learning my way around, continuing to fall in love with the desert, and working hard to develop some sense of community. The job is getting easier as I learn and retain the necessary skills. I live in a little collection of houses and duplexes with about ten other folks I am still getting to know. Some are long timers and literally have raised their families here, others are RV dwellers here for winter volunteering. It is an eclectic mix. Slowly but surely I am finding my way.
Early on my manager/neighbor let me know there was a gym over in the adjacent maintenance yard. I poked around on one of my days off and could not find it. I did not feel comfortable snooping around in one of the park services private areas, so I chose to ask again later. But, having a gym within a short walk would really add to my quality of life here, as I do not get the exercise at my job as I did in Minnesota or while on the road. I needed to find and use this gym.
Enter one evening while I was taking out the trash. I saw a new person in one of the apartments across the street that was previously empty. Well, me being me, I knocked on the door to see who had moved in. Enter JJ. He had just arrived, was friendly and had a nice smile. I loaned him some food for the short term, as shopping options are, well, nonexistent. He was appreciative. We hit it off and have been hanging out ever since.
I discovered that JJ knew exactly where the gym was when he offered to take me along. Hell yes I wanted to go! JJ has a physical job and being in good shape not only helps in the execution of his duties, but JJ likes to take care of himself. He is no youngster, but is younger than me. So, there we were getting our work out “on”. To be fair, for being way the hell out here in the middle of nowhere, this is a pretty well appointed gym with cardio machines, a punching dummy, free and structured weights, yoga mat. I was delightfully surprised.
Part of what JJ does during his workout is jump from the ground onto this stool. He calls it a “box”, but it looks like a step stool sort of thing. Being who he is, he threw out the challenge for me to jump on the box. I was skeptical given my short stature. I offered to try, but requested a hand as I also did not want to fall and knock out my teeth. I got close, grabbed his hand, and…. NOPE. My feet would not leave the ground. Everything in my brain screamed CAUTION! DANGER! KEEP YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND! To my credit, living and traveling alone I try hard not to put myself into any situation that will cause obvious harm. Apparently, the box represented harm. I mean, my body resisted and my mind screamed to NOT do this thing. It was strange how my brain took over and continued to resist that thing which my body may or may not have been able to do. My higher level thinking took over. There was no way both of my feet were going to be off the ground at the same time. Nope, that was not happening. I let it go and backed off.
You know JJ was all over that. The challenge was on, the gauntlet thrown, now it was a thing. Oh, did I mention that he jumps on and off this thing like a little kid playing on the curb? He even backs up further to extend the jump. WHY?? I ask. Why must I even do the box? Agility, smiles JJ as the twinkle in his eye goads me on. I could do it for agility, but now it is a thing. Now I have a challenge before me and as we all know, I am not one to cower in the face of a good challenge. Not only must I conquer the box, but I have a very clear and detailed fantasy of that moment I jump onto the box, out of the blue one night during our routine work out, turn to JJ and yell IN YOUR FACE as I dance on top of that fucking box.
With some effort, I figured out how to overcome the brain barrier and I can get both my feet to leave the floor. I now practice. I run around my apartment jumping on and off the soft furniture. My thighs hurt and I am reminded of muscles I have not challenged in a while. It feels good to have conquered one part of this challenge. I can jump, my feet will leave the ground, I can get myself off the ground. This is a first step to conquering the box… not because I have to, but because I want to.
I have to practice, develop my technique, my stability, and improve. I spend time jumping on and off some of the benches on the gym, I still struggle, but, I will conquer the box and I will dance on top as I achieve yet another goal. The challenge may be all in good fun, but an important part of my quest to keep my body and mind strong. In the end, it is about a friendly wager, physical performance, and meeting a challenge head on. It is hardly about the actual “box” at all.
I am sure there is at least one “box” in your life, one challenge, one thing to overcome. Too often, we have more. I encourage you to puzzle out your barriers, your blocks, the resistance. Find an alternate way to achieve your goal. Approach it from multiple angles until you find the path gets you over that hump. I wish for you to conquer your box!