As I furthered this lifestyle in reframing who I was, I kept at my personal practices to overcome my general fears and discomforts.
In these attempts, I continuously tried to expose myself to uncomfortable situations to build resilience to them. As a result, my experience and my outlook progressed.
As a result, I began to find a new handle on my being. One of self control, and personal empowerment.
It took a long time, but I was starting to feel rooted again.G. Kourtesiotis, Testing The Faith: A Desperate Scramble, Without Balls.
Duking The Demon- Pinch Bars and Steel Wheels. (Testing The Faith, Part 1.5)…
WE ARE our own GODS!
I began to reorganize my personal fitness regiments, and shied away from the heavy weightlifting I was accommodated to. I began to explore more bodyweight oriented routines, and found a steady dose of running/biking in between it all. I was always a fitness freak, but my personal dilemmas evolved me into a different kind of fitness freak.
In the former, I found joy through progressing myself physically in the gym as it carried over onto the field competing for football. This also catered to a healthy competition between other teammates that formed a cohesive bond to better ourselves as a group. In the latter, I was put off by the competition. And though there was still joy of activity/movement, fitness became more of a personal fight.
Pushing my body again — in healthier ways — felt like I was mentally fighting my demons, physically–if it makes sense. The physical activity during this time, usually had a very deep sense of emotion attached to it. The weights fueled my anger, bicycle rides were spent chasing broken dreams, and trails were run on the brink of tears.
It is truly remarkable to sit here and to still be able to feel the power that can exist within an individual. I can still feel the source of will through my memory's words. It wasn't a will to impress the ego, but the will to survive my own mind.
To reiterate: I always enjoyed fitness, but this is where it shifted from the shallow-vanity associations of a meatstick… to a place of deep personal growth and emotional communication with my inner self.
Over the next few years, I steadily dropped weight –from 290lbs to 240lbs-– as a result. I had progressed through my darker sides, my body and mind dysfunctionally restored to its normal levels of dysfunctionality.
On The Right Track
Within this short time period (say 3 years), I managed to grab hold of a career working for the railroad as a railcar mechanic. It was great, because it gave me an opportunity to essentially– stay there for the rest of my life.
It was easy to drop that much healthy weight if you take all the recreational physical activity I was doing and couple it with the physical labour and the endless walking of a railroad worker.
It was a great job physically, and financially. It had great benefits/401k/pension plans, it was unionized, and with room to grow. It is the kind of job people dream about landing– except being labour intensive… and braving the elements all year round… and the constant micromanagement/political bullsh*t… and all of the other things that can potentially roll over you, or kill you, or give you cancer… But, it’s a lifer’s career for sure! And if you land it… You’re sure as hell stupid to leave it.
My time spent with the railroad taught me a lot of valuable skills that I can and still use. The carryover is endless, whether it’s for home improvement, fixing something on my vehicle, or even my artistic endeavours– it has shaped my life skills for the better.
Youtube: Spooning Roses
It was a place that gave me room to grow. More importantly, it allowed me to look at things more creatively. And in all of that, I got to meet a lot of talented people working there– some with barley a highschool diploma– if that– and others who were very rough around the edges.
You Can Literally Do Anything
One of the older guys who has been there for about 35 years made it pretty clear to me that you can literally do anything. Though he was directly referring to maintenance in terms of self-producing repairs for rail cars, he made the creative process quite clear. Any repair was possible, as we could simply forge/fuse/shape metals using oxygen/acetylene, welding, or other crafty means.
A new employee easily become overwhelmed trying to self-solve any problems or repairs that need to be made. I was no exception, if I needed to do any actual repairing, I felt dumbstruck and eager to pass off the work to anyone who knew what they were doing. Regardless,it is crucial to take initiative, to get in there, to try to practice what you can-- regardless of how daunting it may seem. General advice, for whatever you plan to tackle.
This guy has been there for 35 years and has seen it all. From the internal restructuring of a company, to the intricate details of the work, he knew the game and played it well. Working with him really opened my eyes in applying his railroading experience to something bigger:
It showed me the human potential to create, and without limits.
If you can conceive it, you can create it.
Apart from the physical creative knowledge and reorganized outlook I received, the most valuable experience I got from this place was the ability to express myself fully. It was a facilitating place for expression in order to reconnect with myself on an emotional level.
The yard we worked in was about 4 square miles large, with an endless amount of rail and vehicular traffic. The job provided a lot of time for solitude, with enough space/background noise for your own screams, hoots, and hollers to become drowned out.
The employee/employer relations were often terrible because of constant tensions between company men and the union. This furthered the ability to express myself in order to break my own barriers. Not to say that I was difficult with my superiors, but it really dissolved the sense of authority associated with those in power. This proved very meaningful, especially after the mindless obedience that came along with being a competitive athlete/student pupil for over a decade.
The railroad became a place where a lot of nooses dissolved. There were a lot of days where I could express my anger, my sadness, my happiness, and my silliness, without judgment or the pressure of social ridicule. After a while, my expressions became me — which was always the real me to begin with, just not filtered through all the sociopolitical bullsh*t attached to our ‘modern’ lifestyles.
Before I jump off the track, I want to note that the railroad was a place that really healed me of many of my personal problems. Although short-lived, I am very grateful for that. It gave me a lot of useful trades skills that I will always use. I also got to meet a great group of open/loose individuals, and most importantly, it gave me the space–literally– to explode my emotions out of my body and into the world.
Starry Skies and Open Eyes
We worked rotational shifts–at least as an apprentice– so I found myself frequently working into the night– if not overnight. This furthered my reflections, and kept my mind wandering in contemplation about our origins. My internal search and discovery in re-evaluating myself collectively, was complimented by finding great solace in connection to the beauty of the starry night sky. This was especially true of the overnight shifts during the winters.
I also began a more active participation into my meditative practices. I withdrew from my day where I could, and found myself practicing breath/observing my thoughts more often. Any downtime that came my way, I would find myself purposely withdrawing to check up on my thoughts, and my body– where it be at home, in the park, or during my shift. There would be no hesitation to pursue any moment that drew me into myself in order to understand my physical being.
As it became a comfortable routine to study myself, I finally began looking outwards once again.
God Where are You?
In all of the alone time, and inner reflection, and creepy dark spots that my job took me to, it still left me encounterless with God. There were many vulnerable moments of expression that could have potentially opened up a streamline of thought directly to the source… but it never happened. The only surprising bright lights chasing me down the tracks were those coming from locomotives.
This further reconciliated the thought that WE ARE our own GODS.