In life there are certain inevitabilities. Mundane work of a repetitive nature; tasks that requires working with an unpleasant colleague or being part of an undesirable team; pursuing a goal that lies outside of a particular comfort zone; or taking the first unpleasant steps on a long-dreaded journey. Pre-dawn alarms, meetings with middle management, completing a challenging academic module, or Bulgarian squats—take your pick. There is death. There will be taxes. The litany of unpleasant tasks is endless.
Strange, then, that the will needed to face and overcome such odiousness is finite. Eventually, one runs out of the ability to get up and go, to show up, or to just do it. There is postponement. There is denial. There is avoidance. There are times when it is easier to put off facing certain miseries. After all, a dream deferred is still a dream, right?
Waiting, sitting still, and wishing do nothing to lessen the size or the duration of the ordeal. All they do is weaken the resolve needed to face it. As any gym-goer will know, the longer one looks at a weight, the heavier it becomes. So it is with undesirable things even though the best thing to do is to “get started and get it over with”. Easier said than done, n’est pas? The right thing is not always that which comes quickest or easiest.
The storm clouds on the distant horizon build, billow, blacken, and seem to blow that much harder.
The hardest things, the most awful things, must be overcome in the way and at the time they materialise. Not later. Not tomorrow. Now. Right now. Without avoidance. There can be no ducking or diving, no dodging or dipping. There is only facing—with strength and honour—whatever hardship comes one’s way. As demanding as this might be, it is the only path available to the Stoic: the calm acceptance of the road whether it flattens or steepens, whether the walk is quick or slow. The peaks and valleys are all part of the journey, and all of them need to be embraced and learned from.
There is this truth: the storm faced is the storm overcome.
Once one resolves to take on the hardship, the primary hurdle is leapt over.
The start is the hardest part; after the initial uncertain steps, the rest is surrendered to rhythm and riding out the wave, catching the crests and successfully steering through the barrels. In the midst of hardship, all that matters is getting through, sometimes quickly and sometimes not.
Even in the middle of the storm there is certain beauty: the fiery lightning against the clouds, the incredible speed of the wind, the loudness of the thunder, and the courage needed to steer straight into its heart and through it. These small moments of triumph build towards the final ebbing of the tide and the eventual calming of the waters.
Anyone who has progressed on their fitness journey beyond the dreaded first day will testify to this truth: there is no such thing as sweet medicine. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, all of the plank variations, battle ropes, ring work, skipping, rowing, cycling, weight days, cardio days, and even stretching—what works the best, what delivers the most satisfying results, is not always the most pleasant experience. Like any storm, though, they must be faced. Once faced, they seem to lessen in difficulty. Eventually, hard work becomes work.
Such it is with storms, such it is with life.
There is no such thing as sweet medicine. And the storm faced is the storm overcome.
— The Storm Faced —
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Design: Rémy Ngamije, 2022.