It dawns on me from time to time: why am I doing this? There is certainly no pleasure in lifting these things for the whole ten minutes, so why?
Trying to answer this question may lead to the depth of the soul I might not be willing to face. When Rudnev was in Sydney couple of months ago he told me that the most formidable task of a GS coach is to find a sufficiently motivated heavyweight, while there is no shortage of small guys willing to train. This was a bit of a revelation, and this is what I sort of knew all along.
I am not capable of serious extreme feats, but I certainly sympathize with people who do. Climbing the Everest solo and without oxygen, diving to the depths over 200 m, even if eventually it leaves you disabled, extreme speed records on motorcycles, parachute jumping from 40 km, base jumping, climbing without a rope - all this shit and more, it fascinates me. Someone said: "Life should be savored, not lengthened". I agree. Most of my contemporaries are concerned with longevity. Watch your cholesterol, don't smoke, don't do anything dangerous, sleep well, take vitamin D and calcium pill, see your doctor regularly and you may get to live to one hundred years. Let alone most of this shit doesn't matter one way or another, but one more year, one more month, another fucking day is all that matters.
A friend of mine since medical school, a psychiatrist, recently celebrated his 50th birthday. At the party I have met a colleague of his, another psychiatrist who at the time was 74. There were two remarkable things about that guy. First, he rode a motorbike to work. Two, once every couple of years he flew to the UK where he would buy a sailboat and sail it back to Australia. As he told me: "It is scary to face your own self, and at times during the trip I find myself full of tears and wondering, why am I doing this? But then you know the answer, even though it is impossible to explain it to anybody else".
And that is what drives us to do these externally meaningless things: facing yourself. Most of us, myself included, have no idea about what's going on inside our heads (or hearts for that matter). We have no idea where we are right now. The way we react to events around us are pretty much automatic. Gurdjieff once said that predicting the future is no big deal: your behavior is not likely to change, and five years from now your life is going to be exactly what it is now, with minor variations. It happens sometimes when you arrive home from work you don't remember the actual driving, it was automatic. This is the way we go through life.
And pain is pretty much the only thing that brings you back to yourself. Doesn't have to be extreme pain. Can be some discomfort. Boredom, for example. Boredom is nothing more than the fear of being with oneself. We can't do that, we have to play with the phone, browse through the tabloids (they are written for retards who have interest in other peoples' affairs, but I regularly find myself opening them in waiting rooms), watch some TV show that tries to look like it raises important issues, and so on. Anything, but away from me, my mind, my body.
Pain drives us to do this: it reminds us we're alive. More pain - more alive. "What do you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?" - as per Taylor Durden. Not necessarily a fight with someone else, fighting with yourself is similar. Fighting the desire to put the bells down on the eighth minute, fighting the urge to skip the murderous circuit, or make the rest between the sets longer. Making yourself to pick those bells and start the next long set, which makes you tired after the first ten reps. And then it becomes impossible to escape. Each moment you can think only about what you're doing: fixation overhead, lowering the bells, relaxed rack and the rest of it, whichever lift you're doing. It is your pain, your life, your reality. Re-quoting Pahlanyuk, you cannot deal with this the way dead people do: imagining rain forests and trying to escape into another reality. Face it: maybe God hates you, what are you gonna do about it!
And then again, small guys probably need more pain to remind them of being alive than the big ones...