A Lion in Iron: Time, It‘s All You Have (Part 2)

TAGS: A Lion in Iron, live learn and pass on, strong(er), Alexander Cortes, weight room, time

I didn’t intend for this to be a two-part series. Because I wrote the first part though, I've had some experiences that have made me consider my views on what precisely makes time so valuable and I felt the need to speak about it further.

I recently I took a short trip to the San Francisco area of California. This was significant because I would be seeing my best friend/sister for the first time in over a year and I would be reunited with my three closest friends in the world from my dancing/college days. This trip was the first legitimate vacation I had taken since I graduated in 2010, and it meant a great deal to me. These people know me better than anyone else in my life and they mean the world to me.

At the same time, it made me consider how much time had passed since we had all been together and how much I wished I saw them more. It was moments that I was missing with them, not just years. It made me question what I've done with my time, not whether I was investing in the right things or the right people but rather if I had spent enough time with those people.

I don’t want to waste moments or minutes or hours or days or months or years. I want all my time to be valuable—not just the time spent on personal goals but the time spent with friends, and loved ones and everyone else that means something to me in my life.

One of my friends has a little girl who just turned five. I can remember the exact day and time she called me almost six years ago to tell me that she was pregnant. I can remember when her daughter was born. I've seen her now grow “younger” while I've grown “older.” I've watched her mature into the role of a parent. It's been incredible to watch, and I'm endlessly proud of her. It was spending time with her daughter that really sent me into an introspective frame of mind.

When I arrived on Friday, I had no plans other than being with my sister and friend and her daughter as much as possible. I missed them and it didn’t matter to me what we did. We ended up running errands part of the day, and I offered to take care of her little girl while they were going through a bed and bath store. This was so much fun that I can't adequately express it. It was the first time in years that I can remember simply “playing” and doing nothing but acting silly for the sake of making her laugh.

It was in these moments that I realized how long it had been since I made a child laugh and I had honestly forgotten what it sounded like. The sheer brightness and happiness of it stunned me. I don’t know that I've ever made anyone laugh that hard, and when she was laughing, it was impossible not to laugh and smile with her.

We resolved to jump on and destroy every single display bed in the store, and she found this utterly hysterical (and I'm probably not a good influence...sorry, Ruthie). I haven't had that much fun doing anything in any working memory I have.

After she tired of taking apart all the beds, I picked her up and carried her around with me the rest of the hour. She loved this and begged me to keep tossing her into the air over and over again. For all the training I've done and will ever do and the countless hours I spent in the gym and all the weights I've lifted, it all paled in comparison next to her laughing and telling me “You’re so strong!!” while I tossed her into the air. That experience, those moments with her, every single one of them was invaluable.

After a bit, her mom asked me if I was tired of carrying her. “Isn't she heavy?” she said.

“No, she isn't heavy at all,” I replied.

What is the value of time? When you have a child, every moment you spend with that child is an opportunity for you to do the best you can, to be the best you can, to love the most you can. Every single moment. Every day you have the true opportunity to be the absolute best parent you can be to that child. At the same time, you know when you haven’t done your best. You know that sometimes the most you can do isn’t the best you can do. You know that sometimes you can’t always be there. That is both incredibly thrilling to me, yet I can see why it's so frightening. That’s a responsibility that has no equal and it takes a lot of strength, more than I can imagine or compare to anything in my life up to this point.

I talk about strength all the time. Every time I've hit points where I think I’ve said all I can say about it, something happens that changes my perspective. I watch how much patience is required to be a parent, how much care, how much you have to teach and love on a daily basis. That’s as great of an example of strength as anything I can imagine.

I wondered about the investment of time spent raising a child. I thought about how much those memories must mean to you over the course of your life. If my moments were so valuable, what is a lifetime of them worth? I had never truly realized how valuable individual moments in time could be until I spent time with her daughter.

Somehow this all leads back to training, but now I can't ever really view it again as what it does only for me. At a certain point, this drive that I have for it has bled over into every aspect of my life. It has become my passion to share it. It has become my passion to find every possible way that I can to make someone a better person and share it with others.

I left that trip and walked into the gym on Monday. I stepped up to the bar and wondered what it was preparing me for. I wondered what moments it would lead me to. I wondered about how much more I have to live and all the moments I have yet to remember.

And I remembered as well and I thought back to the weekend and the time spent with her daughter and how I would never forget that. I thought about the time spent with friends and my sister who made it worth more than I can put to words.

My goals may take me a lifetime, but I will never lose sight of the moments in time that make it all worthwhile. I will likely never set records, I will never dominate a weight class, and I will leave no mark upon this sport in numbers. But I can live, and I can learn, and I can pass on. And I take every possible moment to appreciate that fact.

The best memories you will ever have are the ones you share with others. You will never be as strong to yourself as you will be in the eyes of others, and you will never know how much everything can be made to fall away simply by the ability to laugh.

Live, learn, and pass on.

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