Five or six days a week I exercise a hour day. I gulp down beet juice, listen to Foxing’s Nearer My God, have a transcendent experience running up the big hill around mile five, and then, this new melted version of myself, is dedicated back to thinking life is good again. I’ll walk up the neverending staircase and listen to Desert Oracle or The Zach Lowe podcast until a sandwich worth of calories are zapped from my cells. I’ll play basketball with the three point shooting youths, and survive off blocking shots and devouring rebounds and cursing after every kittening missed layup. Weights are tossed around. Heavy stuff is picked up and put back down.
There’s no end goal here. No greater meaning. No training for some future landmark or event. It’s just maintenance. It’s just something I have to do as a postmodern air conditioned sheep, who gains weight quickly, and has had of his family tree detonated by heart disease. If I don’t I’ll explode. I’ll be heavy, cranky, irritable, and watch the light evaporate like those same Hungry man frozen dinner eaters, and five egg four strips of bacon breakfastsers did. The desert is too big. There’s too much to do. There’s too many things to think about when I lay down in the grass. I don’t want to end up like that.
Sure, I’ve worked towards things. I’ve found myself down to the weight I want this year, until I crash my diet next winter and get down to 205 and float away forever. I tried to run a half marathon only to have my body whither, cramp up and buckle at mile 11.7, and then I made a pot of chili and cried while coaxing my bloody left nipple. I finally broke through the cement and dunked a basketball a few years back. I backpacked in the Rockies without gasping for air. But for now there’s no end. It’s just what I have to do to stay alive.
Then I got these shoes.
Before they arrived all I was looking for were a pair of shoes to replace my black Converse my old roommate gave me. The neck was soggy and withered. Stained with sweat like a condemned house with a busted water pipe. The toes had curled from heat and the bend of my feet. I never fully felt like my foot was flat in there, and was frightened my ankles would flip and then turn floppy after chasing preworkout rebounds. I had a need. The market had a good. I was looking for a good to fill my need. That was it.
Inside the left sole it says DREAM BIG. Inside the right sole it says WORK HARD. It’s like if David Goggins wrote and directed Dude Where’s My Car? The same thing is read on each shoe lace as well. Sure there are other features. The marketing team has told me the flexibility doesn’t quit because of a stretch spacer mesh bootie which creates a sock-like fit, they are durable and breathe, there’s an integrated lacing system that offers lock down support, the heel is stabilized and wrapped creating balance when moving heavy weight, and there’s zigzag stitching to commemorate J.J. Watt on his prune colored scar. The shoes are strong, comfortable, and you can do just about anything in them aside from run super long distance—they are a little too hard for that. This doesn’t matter. None of these features matter. The only one that does is the DREAM BIG. WORK HARD.
Typically, I would roll my eyes at this statement, at capitalism’s attempt to fabricate meaning, the try hard nature of Houston’s football saint who crawled out of a genetic soup that created two other professional athletes. Typically, I’d laugh at the shoes and their sentiment, feel silly to be a grown man wearing them, and then go back to the same ratty Converse until my ankles snapped off after wobbling around for so long.
Instead I tried to do something different. I tried coming up with goals, dreams in this case, and then work hard whenever I did the things I think I need to do to make them happen. No longer are workouts lost and aimless. No longer are writing sessions a single superfluous page of ink contained in college rule. No longer am I checking my phone while podcasting, or flickering through social media when I’m tape eating and footballfootballfootball writing. I am earnest. I am unequivocal. I am dreaming big and working hard.
I’m doing things like slamming the hell out of the basketball instead of measly getting it up there, I’m learning how to shoot a three point shot so I can play until I’m 47 when my knees grind like sleep paralysis teeth, working on hip flexibility so I can get the most out of squats, pushing each run by a little bit more a little bit more a little bit more so that maybe come October I can avenge that bloody nipple and busted heaving heart, I’m chasing lower reps and pushing heavier weight to climb over old maxes, I’m turning the phone off when I read, I’m not buying a $8.50 sparkling water-YerbaMate-stick of cheese combination, I’m giving the middle finger to the coworker’s candy jar, I’m giving away this XBOX and running away from NHL 19, and most importantly, I’m going to bed early and kicking caffeine so when I do sleep, I can actually DREAM BIG after a day of WORKING HARD.