There is a story of a guy who smokes a hallucinogen and proceeds to envision that he was lost in a forest. Some “Other” entity comes from within the forest and begins to guide him, and took him on this journey through the forest and into some mountains. In the mountains there was a glimpse of a kingdom somewhere in the distance, a place where this Other came from. The guy remembers it being truly majestic, awe-inspiring. They trek through the mountains into this alien civilization which is empty but somehow in pristine condition. To the guy, this kingdom feels like some new world, but at the same time he feels a sense of belonging, a sense of one-ness. The Other speaks to this guy, but it isn’t in a human language. Somehow the dreamer understands what the Other is saying, something along the lines of, “You don’t belong here.” So the Other guides him back down the mountains, back into a forest, and then the guy is alone. But the guy realizes that he can’t shake that feeling of belonging, and he turns back up the mountain on his own to find the kingdom again. He comes out of the hallucination before he gets back, and while he understands that it was only a dream, a drug-induced series of images and emotions that have no basis in reality, he still remembers the feeling of belonging, the sense that he was in the absolute right place, and he still remembers how that fictitious kingdom made him feel an awe that he has been incapable of feeling in the real world.
So he spends every day with the memory of that feeling, belonging to a place that doesn’t exist, believing in some kind of beauty that he’ll never see again. The last thing he remembers about it is trying to get back.
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Pay attention to how you feel under varying conditions. What happens when you have a cup of coffee? Do you wake up? Do you get a personality? Do things suddenly seem worth doing?
Doesn’t even have to be in the context of a drug. How do you feel when your blood sugar is low? Depressed? Irritable? Is this the same person you are otherwise?
What about during a high-stress training cycle? Your sleep gets disrupted, you feel muted, sluggish. If you cared enough, you could measure a few markers. Vertical leap. The Soviets supposedly used to use grip strength for their weightlifting team. Maybe some of you read somewhere that the Bulgarians measured resting heart rate and blood pressure. Some of the new school lifters are now real big on RPE, load drops, and fatigue.
“This weight used to feel like an 8,” some might say. “I have been doing a lot of volume and not recovering well, today it feels like a 9.”
Is some of it just “psychological?” A self-fulfilling prophecy? Depends on who you ask. On how you ask it.
But even if it 100% is, even if that hard number value for subjective effort is just an idea in their minds alone, and not in the physical world, doesn’t it still have meaning? Doesn’t it affect their beliefs?
I can, I can’t.
I will, I won’t.
It is. It isn’t.
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The first time I consumed marijuana, it was with a girl I was dating a few years ago. It was a typical first-time experience. Food tasted amazingly good, music was mind-blowing, thoughts went in a billion different directions, perception of time was distorted, and everything felt like a Christopher Nolan moment – there was something absolutely profound about the emotions I felt and the words in my mind.
I was – and probably still am, despite whatever thought experiments and self-growth bullshit I can try to apply – a codependent piece of shit. I derived emotional validation out of feeling like my partner valued me. Under the influence of marijuana, my need for emotional validation from this girl intensified and became meaningful. Her reciprocation was meaningful. I am talking about me looking up at her, thinking she was pretty in dim chain restaurant lighting. Her smiling back at me, for real, for the first time, with upbeat curiosity. You and I can read this now and realize that this is some Mickey Mouse bullshit to be covering for a 25 year old guy (I am 28 now). “Oh she smiled at me,” fucking kill yourself.
My point is that even though these interactions at the time were subtle, barely even happening, they felt profound. They carried a weight that had more substance than any snatch, any front raise. And even when I sobered up, that sense of meaning stayed. In my memory, there was a sense of connection to her that just meant something more – something more that, if I could just believe in something beyond what I knew for just a second, would lead me to some kind of truth.
I came down. Everything felt normal again. I felt embarrassed at how I acted while under the influence. I was a worse kisser. And I had told her, “I haven’t felt love before, but I think I would describe what I’m feeling now as love.” It is some stoner bullshit, I recognize that now, but I still don’t take it back. I haven’t felt love. The closest I have gotten? Looking at someone in dim lighting. Getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I would smoke or eat marijuana another handful of times, with her and later without her. It was fun, music still sounded better, chocolate and potato chips still tasted good, but the feeling that what I felt had meaning never came back. In fact, I felt the opposite – that all my feelings and beliefs were false. I smoked with friends – but under the influence of marijuana, I felt disconnected with them. The bonds I thought I had with them felt fabricated.
Take away the marijuana. Take away the dim lighting. Take away the girl. I can still remember a moment.
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The guy on firstpull.net wrote a great article on force components in the snatch pull. Hip extension is both a horizontal and vertical component. Knee extension is mainly a vertical component. Rely too much on hip extension, and you have to deal with bringing the bar back into the right place. Finish hard with knee extension, use leg drive, and the bar will stay closer. The overall extension of the body to propel the bar up will be sharper.
There are a dozen other factors to account for. Where you are balanced on your feet – pushing too far back towards the heels reduces how much leg drive you can incorporate. Pushing too far onto the toes leaves the bar out in front. Timing. Where your gaze is held.
Do enough things right, and you can feel it. Stay over the bar as long as possible, delay the final extension until the very last moment, find your balance on your feet, keep your chest up between extension and receiving the bar overhead.
Sometimes you can hold this harmony for a workout or two. Sometimes maybe just for a rep, one lift. Then it’s gone.
But you remember. You try to find your way back to it.