When Iron is a Friend

I had something a little weird happen in the gym today — was totally internal, and I couldn’t tell you what prompted it, necessarily.

I was working out very hard and just something inside cracked open emotionally and I just wanted to cry. Not in a bad way, but sort of “release” type crying. I’ve had that happen before, but not from working out alone. Usually it’s dancing or sex or a rather intimate sparring match that will do it (yes, sparring can be a very intimate form of communication). It startled the hell out of me, and I would have given in to it were I not in a weight room. That’s just not the place, you know.

It wasn’t that the workout was bad — rather the opposite. It was hard, but a good hard. Maybe that’s what triggered it. I dunno. I’ve never considered weights any sort of self-expression or communication the way dance or sex or martial arts can be, so it just seemed weird.

Maybe it’s the utter lack of pretense or mask that does it. When you have that bar across your shoulders, or are straining to move a weight, it’s impossible to pretend anything. You can either do it, or you can’t. Henry Rollins talks in his famous essay, The Iron, about the inherent honesty of the weight.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

Maybe at that moment, I was getting into a very deep communication with myself. I get what Rollins is talking about, that the Iron is your friend, and a very honest one.

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