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    « Sword of Self Meets The Icarus Deception | Main | Clinterview: Man Vs. Emotion (part 6) »

    Gym eMotion

           Working out is a way of life for some of us. We actually miss the sweat, strain, and minor pain of pushing our bodies past every day use. When I’m in a groove I rarely miss a day of exquisite physical excursion. Habit becomes routine. Routine becomes lifestyle. Lifestyle becomes A Way Of Life.
           Besides the great rush that exercise gives me, I sometimes experience another phenomenon while exercising. I sometimes become very emotional.
           When we exercise, things are shaking and moving and changing within us physiologically. We’re increasing our heart rate, pumping more blood through our body, changing oxygen levels, blood pressure, and a host of other biological mechanizations.
           Many of us listen to music during exercise. Music can move us. When we are moved, just like when we exercise, there are physiological changes happening inside us. Thus, with both music and exercise, our brain and body chemistry are altered. Combine the two, and the changes are even more profound.
           The double whammy of exercise and music thus have the capacity to stir my insides to a feverish pitch.
           There are times when I’m working out where, irrespective of the amount of weight I’m lifting, I feel incredibly powerful, centered, full of life, completely alive, and, frankly, very fuckin’ cool.
           Other emotions well up sometimes, from deep within me, to right under my skin, to right behind my eyes. A song will remind me of someone in my life who is no longer here. Or I will think of someone I miss very much. Maybe a particular event comes to mind. When any of that happens whilst working out, tears well up and I feel like I could just burst.
           Crying in the gym isn’t something I really want to do. So I grab my towel, cover my face with it, rub away some sweat, and simultaneously quickly cry a few tears. Anybody who happens to be looking at me long enough will see that, when I pull the towel from my face, my eyes are a little redder and shinier than they were just a few seconds ago.
           My close friend Stanley died in a plane crash about a year and a half ago. We had our differencess, and sometimes we fought like brothers. But we loved each other very much. He used to say to me “Clint, you’re the brother I never had”. I miss him. There’s a song that powerfully reminds me of him; The Wreck Of THe Edmund Fitzgerald, by Gordon Lightfoot.
           One warm late summer Saturday night, I was over Stanley’s house with a few girls. Fresh out of his waterfront hot tub, we put on some music. Stanley chose a tape that had the Gordon Lightfoot song on it. I turned to him and said “Dude! I love this song!” He replied “Me too!” We thunderously high-fived each other and continued our love fest review of the song.
           I knew all the words. And there are a lot of words. I was singing them aloud, every word of every verse, throwing in punctuations of drum hits, guitar notes, and other nuances. Stanley was amazed. He repeated, over and over again, like Stanley often did, “I can’t believe you know every word of this song!”. Stanley knew some, but hardly all. He was singing along with me as best he could, often looking at me and repeating what I sang a split second later, like a delayed echo effect through a PA system. We were both acting out the song as well, like a couple of kids. It was one of the funnest moments of my life with Stanley, and that’s saying a mouthful. Because we had a lot of fun moments together. A lot. Some of this spontaneous performance art was even captured on video.
           The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald is on a few of my workout mixes on my iPod. A strange selection, you may think, but it works for me. You should see some of the other choices in music that I work out to. Anyway, when that song comes on whilst working out, it inevitably makes me think of that night. And of Stanley. And how I’ll never have another moment like that with him, ever again.
           A sense of loss and sadness overcomes me a like a giant wave. When I experience those moments outside the gym, I’m sometimes able to ride them out without an outward expression. Not because I don’t want to emote, but because I don’t need to. But in the gym, I have much more trouble controlling that wave of emotion. Because of the augmented physiological changes going on inside because of the combination of music and exercise, the emotions are even stronger. At some point, I just can’t hold it in, and it becomes a “Towel To The Face” moment. And it usually happens more than once.
           Far from embarrassed about this, I don't mind it at all. There are many silver linings in this cloud. These silver linings are reminders of the depth and power of my emotional engine, and how that engine propels me to experience a fuller, richer, deeper, more meaningful life. They remind me that I’m connected to my heart, and that that wasn’t always the case. They remind me of how vitally important love is to me. And they remind me of my friend Stanley, how much we loved one another, and how much fun we had together.  
           I’ll pay the price of some tears and a towel to my face for all of that, every time. No matter where I am. Or what I’m doing.

    ©2013 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart, and Red F Publishing. All Rights reserved.

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