Stone to Shoulder

“It’s really not that hard, you know,” Craig said with a half smile.  “Any three year old can figure out how to get a basketball from their lap onto their shoulder.  You’re overthinking this.”

I stared at him and sighed; I knew he was right.  No one was asking me to do anything outside of the realm of possible for me.  I’d been working consistently for over a year at getting stronger.  Diego, Amie, and Craig had all coached me on technique, and Amie had already demonstrated several consecutive stone to shoulder lifts.  I had practiced the lift with a sandbag and a lighter stone.  My technique was adequate, although much in need of refining.  The issue was not physical strength; the issue was the garbage in my head.

I know I have a tendency to overthink things, and that often I psyche myself out in the process.  And I know that I probably wear thin the patience of a few people around me; Diego, with his straightforward approach and “add more weight” solution for most things, didn’t argue one bit when Craig and Amie took over the job of teaching me the lift.  I know that sometimes I am my own worst enemy and that there is truth in the statement, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”  And I knew that what Craig had just done was offered me a new way to envision something that frankly kinda scared the crap out of me.

Photo courtesy of Craig Campbell. This photo is of his son playing with atlas stones – and genuinely having fun doing so.

So I grimaced, half rolled my eyes, and said “Uggg!  Fine!  I’ll do it.”  As I stepped up to straddle the atlas stone, I tried to implement the tools Craig had given me to change the imagery in my head.  I tried to see the 95# rough concrete stone beneath me as a smooth, light basketball.  I tried to imagine that I was a kid and that this was fun.  It probably wasn’t pretty, but I shouldered it, returned it to the ground, and Diego called out “again” and then a second time “again”.

Later, lavish as ever in his praise, Diego said, “That wasn’t too bad.  You went from being afraid to shouldering that stone for a triple.”  And really, that was the biggest gain that happened for me that morning; I chipped away at a little bit of my own self-doubt, a weight I shoulder quite often without even noticing.  This is the importance of having a tribe who can help you see a little more clearly what’s worth shouldering and what’s not.