IN THE PRESENCE OF POWER
By: Lauren Anderson
One of my favorite things to do when I’m near an ocean, or a canyon, or pretty much any expansive natural phenomenon– is spread my arms and legs out and take up as much space as I possibly can.
Then I open my eyes and look out and realize: I am the biggest I can be… and still so small.
It’s this uniquely humbling moment that I relish because the idea of big and small is something I think about more than I’d like. But in the rare moments when I’m around these epic landscapes, I feel so small. And that often scares me. But it also thrills me.
It’s the same reason I love watching a thunderstorm from the safety of my apartment.
I love knowing that there are forces/ places/ people in the world that have that much physical power. Way more than I ever could. I stand in awe.
And that’s a fun feeling.
But, it’s easy to associate these feeling with “bigness”. But I think it’s more about POWER.
And when you know you’re in the presence of it.
Just this last weekend, I found myself at two events that really snapped this idea into focus.
I was at the Minnesota State Fair and I found myself watching some horse competitions, like ya do.
These GIANT clydesdale horses came out fancy trotting, knees up high, carrying these carts with dapper-dressed dudes in them. And I don’t know about you, but I am rarely in the presence of an animal that big and beautiful.
A sharp intake of breath occurred TO BE SURE when they first entered the stadium.
The horses were all tricked out in shiny accessories, and their hair was fashioned in a very specific style. It was really quite glorious. I had no idea what I was watching, and I couldn’t help but Oooo and Ahhh at the sight of it all.
I am a true City Girl, who is VERY allergic to horses. But if you asked me at that moment, I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right then. I needed to take it all in.
This sounds so cheesy, but go with me! I was thankful that I could witness this strange event.
I was thankful that these GIANT BEASTS allowed these tiny humans to comb their wild horse hair and dress them up, and ask them to prance around in a category that I later found out was called “Pleasure Riding”.
I mean what?! Because let’s not ever forget, that a few steps to the right or left, those animals could kill those tiny humans. EASY. Then gallop off into the mystical realm that they surely came from.
But they don’t. BUT THEY COULD.
The trainers knew it too. There was respect in that room. There was danger.
We were in the presence of incredible power.
And I got the same feeling I get standing on the edge of a canyon. There are forces in this world bigger and more powerful than me. And it is humbling and beautiful.
It’s easy to get stuck in my head. Thinking that my life and my body are the singular viewpoint. And then BAM. You see an animal like that, and my focus shifts. I’m snapped out of my bubbled point of view, and am forced to remember, I am small in the scheme of things.
Cut to Solcana, Same Weekend.
I found myself back at the gym Emceeing the first official Solcana Fitness Squat Off!
In other words, a weight-lifting competition/event where athletes would be doing only one (back squats) of the three standard lifts (deadlift, bench, and back squat) in the powerlifting realm.
This was a fast and furious event where athletes from our gym and others, basically back-squat their hearts out.
And as I announced the first lifter, I could feel myself take that same sharp intake of breath.
Here before me was every kind of body shape, and all genders—just totally DOMINATING these back squats with incredible amounts of weight on their shoulders.
It was impressive. And I was in awe of the power. To be in that room, with the energy and display of strength was so moving that I got a little teary.
(But I didn’t cry because I had to talk into a microphone.)
And then I found myself giggling. Because just like those horses, I had the realization that any one of these people are as potentially dangerous as the horses were… I’m not trying to compare these athletes to horses– but stay with me here!
When I watched the horses, I thought I was in awe because of their size. But when I had the same feeling watching the athletes, I knew I was wrong. It wasn’t the size, IT WAS THE POWER.
For example, one of the athletes out of the context of the competition could easily pass as your friendly neighborhood counselor. Unassuming and average. Someone you might mistake as an average human doing regular human things.
But in this “arena” I watched them squat about 340 pounds with relative ease. That’s 100 pounds more than a baby elephant at birth! That’s some serious strength!
It was a good reminder that we are more than we think we are.
And then it dawned on me– It’s not that ocean is so large, it’s that the ocean could take out an entire city with a small change in the weather. It’s not that the canyon is so vast, it’s that Mother Nature was able to uproot and sculpt that much earth in this incredible way.
It’s not that the average Budweiser Horse is over 6-feet tall at the back. It’s that for some reason they allow tiny humans to climb on them and dress them up in chrome and ribbons.
It’s the never the BIGNESS. Although people like to associate big power with big things.
But the biggest guy in the room could likely be the gentlest. And the impish woman at Target in yoga pants could be a war vet with a purple heart. Stephen Hawking never had much use for his body, but his mind changed the way the world thinks.
And let’s not forget, the tiniest Chihuahua puppy can bring a room of people to it’s knees with it’s cuteness.
Power and strength are relative. And this weekend was a good reminder of that. Just like standing on the edge of the canyon. We are smaller than we realize, and bigger than we think.
But no matter the size, we all have power. It can come in many forms.
And it’s never the size of the weightlifter, it’s their power.
* * *
So next time you’re rude in line at the grocery store, just remember, that person behind you could likely throw you on their back and back squat you outta the sliding door with EASE.
But they don’t. BUT THEY COULD.
And we’re standing in the presence of it.