I look around the box on any random day, or the girls' night in, or our going away party, and I see the most eclectic assortment of people I've ever known personally. Diverse in age, religion, political leanings, life experience, marital status, sexual orientation, race, upbringing, fitness aspirations, hobbies, and so on.
Friends. Old and new and soon to be.
And I am endlessly grateful.
What a genuine blessing to connect to people who are so like me in some ways and so enormously different in others, to love and be loved in spite of (maybe even because of) our differences and our similarities alike.
To sweat, bleed, bruise, struggle, overcome, laugh, groan, and cry together, over WODs and over life, day in and day out.
To admire admirable people, to realize each others' humanity and accept it, to lift each other up and lend support when needed.
To learn life lessons far more important than the achievement of that toes-to-bar movement, double under, or muscle up (while also working really hard to do just that).
Lessons such as:
Welcome new people when they arrive. Actually, greet everyone happily when they walk through our garage door. Shout out their name from across the room. Because it feels so good to be wanted.
Such as, ask someone to coffee after a WOD sometime. Or to the season premier of Game of Thrones. You may make a lifelong friend.
Such as, arrange to meet someone at class. Text and ask when they're going. And then show up because of them. It's the best compliment ever.
Such as, help each other as often as possible. Go out of your way for others. Ask for help when you need it. We are strongest together, and that's the best kind of strength PR. Also, it feels so good to help and be helped.
Such as, love each other's children, even when they're behaving badly or they are stinky. In fact, especially then. It changes so many lives. Seriously.
Such as, do things that make you uncomfortable. Yes, running and burpees and wall balls and box jumps and standing upside down, but also speaking up, meeting new people, having people over to your house, wearing real clothes. You know, important stuff.
Such as, notice and celebrate each other's goals and achievements. Five pounds is five pounds is five pounds. Showing up even - it's the hardest thing. And it feels good to be noticed.
Such as, no matter how late in the game, even if you're moving to a new state in a month, keep making friends and putting yourself out there. We weren't meant to do life alone, and most people are just hiding how lonely they really are. Also, you could miss out on getting to know someone truly rad.
Such as, ask for someone's story. You have no right to it, but what a precious gift when it's given.
Such as, stop lingering around the edges of the socializing circles of people at the box. Join in. They want to know you. They really truly do. Talk. Be yourself. Share what you love. You are so welcomed and so interesting in your unique way. There are so many people I am sad not to have known better.
Such as forgive. Please, please, please forgive. All the stupid gaffes, the occasional (or frequent) cuss word, the dropped (and naked) barbell, the 30 minute mental toughness WOD on hump day, the not-your-best days, the sweaty ab mats and body odor and farts, the slandering of your favorite political candidate on Facebook, and whatever other humanity creeps in -- grace. So much grace. It's an amazing feeling to be accepted in the midst of your mess, to be affirmed, to be forgiven, to be welcomed when you feel your most vulnerable, ugly, and uncertain.
This (and so very much more) is what we found at CrossFit Merit, in the midst of a bunch of perfectly imperfect (and sweaty) humans, who became the family we chose.
I wish I had hugged more, pried more, talked more, lingered longer after class, helped more, taken more photos together, did more together outside the box, knew more about each and every one of you, and had more time.
My family and I will never forget you.
With love always,
(And we will come "home" as often as possible.)