Now, I’m sure this isn’t the kind of thing most of my blog readers tune in for, but it’s weighing on my mind right now.
One of the things I want to get out of powerlifting is the same feeling I had showing cows as a kid. Sure, there’s a little superficial similarity between the actual contests, but it’s the connectedness that I miss.
By the time I was in my teens, my Pop had been showing cows for decades and had been as deeply immersed in that subculture as a person could be. In no small part because my little brother and I were growing up he took a job off the road where he wasn’t chasing the tanbark all over creation, so I suppose you could say his peak had come and gone, but he was still someone who was known far and wide on the show circuit. I was fortunate enough to piggyback onto that social circle.
I quickly became a master of talking to people like I knew who they were when I honestly had no clue, because lots of folks knew I was “Little Fred” and would come to talk to me. Now, I’m no shyster, I quickly learned who most of these people were and some of them became epic figures in my young mind.
That said, it wasn’t just the people, although I’d give almost anything to be a 14 again so I could just stand quietly and listen to some of those great men talk. Anyone who’s been around the show circuit knows there’s a whole community that goes along with it. I miss almost all of it: the special vocabulary, the gossip and rumor mills, the networks of legitimate communication that connected you to the folks left home to tend the herd, the far away names that came up in conversation even though they may have passed before I was born, the common calendar of big events, the communal stories, the shared challenges and I could go on and on.
This has been a stressful time for me, so it’s probably natural that I wax nostalgic towards my misspent youth, but I think I honestly miss that feeling of being a part of a group. I’m not exactly big man on campus, but I’ve been around quite a while and it’s pretty hard for me to cross campus without seeing someone I know, but it’s not the same. Those afore enumerated qualities are something that arise naturally from that sort of social structure, and you simply have to be part of one to enjoy them.
I think powerlifting can do that for me. I have a disadvantage in that I’m not automatically connected by birth, but the structures of the two activities seem close enough to fit. They both involve travel, with the inherent experiences that brings and they’re both marked by busy seasons and periods of long preparation. Certainly they each have a particular vocabulary. They both involve competition and have the same familiar faces from event to event. Both activities are “earthy” and proletarian; being held in out of the way places with by and large unassuming, ordinary joes. As anyone who’s been involved with high-level showmanship will attest, they’re both sports of overreaching. Lastly, they’re both small enough subcultures that you automatically share a certain amount of kinship with the other participants.
Maybe its all just foolish sentiment, but it explains why I’m so invested in my club, and why I’m sometimes disappointed that other’s don’t share my vision of this whole endeavor as a source of community.
Here’s hoping we all find something to connect to.