The wood between worlds

 

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“Well, you know how it feels if you begin hoping for something that you want desperately badly; you almost fight against the hope because it is too good to be true; you’ve been disappointed so often before.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

C.S. Lewis has always been one of my favourite authors. In one of his books, The Magician’s Nephew, he describes the Wood Between Worlds, a silent wood filled with round ponds and a few trees, a quiet place where you emerge from one pond or world and can journey to another by entering a different pond. Nothing ever happens in that world and there is a peaceful feeling of lassitude. That’s kind of where I am now, between worlds and waiting to step into the next.

This time last year it was all over. IPF Worlds 2015 in Finland was a life-altering experience that taught me a great deal and solidified my intentions in the sport of powerlifting and honestly, in life. I’ve spent the past year or so fixing so many things, rebuilding some things, learning new skills, refining what works, and learning to listen to my gut instincts and trust my own judgement. It has been an eventful twelve months and now that the competition is rolling around again, I find my mind is already in that in-between state, when training is basically over and comp has yet to begin, even though I don’t lift until June 20.

All of the things I’ve learned this year are coming together. All the “A-Ha! moments” and training are coalescing nicely and I have been paying equal attention to mental preparation and competition preparedness for this meet in ways that I have not in the past. I’m listening to how my body feels and giving it what it needs to recover (sleep, food, water, vitamins/supplements, massage, sleep, sleep, food, and recently Aleve and Advil).

For the first time going into a competition, I have competition plans A (everything goes as planned), B (things don’t feel quite as they should) and C (everything becomes a Sparkling Delight of Powerlifting Glory) with corresponding openers, jumps, notes and warmup variations/timing for each lift. I also have a prioritized list of goals for the meet, to help me choose which attempts to go after when a decision needs to be made and my mind needs to stay in “lift mode,” as well as a personal philosophy heading in to enable me to roll with the punches of the day and have fun. I have a gear checklist. I have a list of what to eat/drink and when to ingest it. In short, I am all set. I even started gathering up bits and pieces and packing yesterday.

Everything is ready now, it’s just a hurry up and wait situation. My focus for the next while is to stay injury-free and limber and to let myself come “down” a little, be a little too relaxed and unfocussed, sleep and chill more, and allow some of the weariness of training and tension to slip off my shoulders so that I can spring back in eleven days, hungry for the platform. Right now I feel worn and depleted, which I’m reading as a sign that the work is now done and my body and mind need the space to recuperate and rebound. The timing is about perfect, really. Better not to waste energy now being hyped for a meet eleven days away. That’s both an eternity and no time at all and will come regardless of how much time is spent fretting (so why waste the energy?).

When one chapter comes to a culmination, I think it’s natural to ask where the storyline goes from there. A voice in the quiet part of my mind has indeed been wondering, “What comes next? What is the next competition? What are the next big goals? What does your training situation look like? How will you make it work?” and while I’m generally a person who likes to have a long-term vision along with short-term goals, for now I find I’m happy with not needing firm versions of either. Unusually, I’m confident that there’s a path ahead of me for what matters most and I don’t need to look for it yet; it’ll be apparent once I’ve finished and recovered from this competition. I’ve made couple of steps toward the next phase; I’ve ordered some equipment and connected with some interesting people, but for now, I’m pretty happy with just living in the moment.

“Look for the valleys, the green places, and fly through them. There will always be a way through.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

I’m sure new goals will come once I get through this month. I’m certain that no matter what I do at worlds, there will always be another competition. Recent discoveries have shown me that I’ve only started tapping into what I can do and that the limits I was afraid of are only ghosts without substance. My love of this sport is such that I can’t see ever leaving it, but for now, I’m looking no further ahead than June 20*, when I can close this particular chapter and savour it. The pieces for the next chapter are out there waiting for me when I have the stamina to hunt them down and put them together.

*Okay, I’m actually looking forward to June 22 more than June 20. It’s true. Because that will be AFTER the competition and it’s our 20th wedding anniversary, which we will get to spend together, exploring and talking and eating and laughing.

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