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Chris' Blog

Lessons from Batman: Enter the cave

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 9:55 AM

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” - Joseph Campbell


As a young boy I always admired athletes. Growing up in a small seaport town with a strong history of winning sports teams bread the idea in me that good athletes are on a higher level than the rest of the population. As I have since grown up and crossed paths with countless astonishing athletes; some world class fantastic and admirable people and others with piss poor ethics, I have come to reality that athletes are just people.


Regardless of this, as a child something clicked in me to chase this ideal of an athlete. I wanted to be one of those people that the neighbors spoke of highly or was welcomed warmly when walking into big family get togethers. Unfortunately, anyone who knew me growing up knows being an athlete was the furthest thing reality. I still remember to this day having a relative who once told me, “you better not smoke kid, because you’re so slow now that you won't even be able to move.”


Anyway, there is a belief that people in adulthood chase certain career paths based upon their childhood experiences. According to this belief, it is the poor child who grows up to enter finance, the bullied kid who becomes a police officer, or the loner who becomes a teacher. If these are true or not I do not know or care, but for me i’m sure being an un-athletic piece of lard played highly into my career choice as a human performance enhancement coach. There is something to me about improving the human body as well as the mind. Early on I learned the benefits of joining a sports team and improving my physical well-being, but it wasn’t until I owned a strength and conditioning studio that I realized many of my closest athletes thanked me for the confidence they have grown over their time training. It was not their physical accomplishments which made them proud, but their ability to dedicate to and accomplish something that seemed beyond their reach. Perhaps there is a part of me seeking a nurturing role as my parents were not around very much throughout my life and know I am attempting to bandage that missing element of childhood. I don’t know the answer to that question, what I do know is there is something about making people physically and mentally stronger that brings joy to my life.


It’s funny, with the recent popularity in superhero movies you hear a lot of talk about who is the best superhero and many people answer, Batman. Personally, I don’t like Batman. Think about it, he’s a forty year old man that still has not gotten over his parent’s death. Martha, Martha, Martha… It’s a tragedy I get it, losing both parents myself I understand it is tough, but there is something odd to me about mixing a symbol of strength with a character who is not strong enough to get over the one problem that has been bothering him for literally his entire adult life. Man up Batman and join the rest of the adult population with real life problems.


When I think of Batman, I see a man who has fears that he does not want to face. Yes, the character faces cosmic super villains, but in his world that occurrence is somewhat normal. What’s also happening in his world is everyday other people are going through horrifying experiences brought about by these cosmic level evils and they seem fine without billion dollar gadgets. Yet, Batman is sulking alone in his cave night after night.


Here is the thing, there is something Batman is not facing that the finance expert, police officer, teacher, and chubby kid that was me have all come to face and that is our fears. There were obstacles in all four of these instances that stood in between these individuals and what they desired and their fears did not stand in their way. All of our lives have a dark scary cave which haunts our dreams, yet we all know that the treasures we desire lie within that cave. The real world does not have cosmic level super villains lurking in the caves, nor does it have Batman to save you from the darkness. What it does have is choice. We are all given a choice to become the person we most desire or live in a life of regret. Unlike Batman’s world, the real world does not have a superhero to swoop down and save you. It has you, you are your savior.


Years ago during high school cross country we were lined up at a tree to start our next interval at the local park where the ocean meets a rocky beach and my legs were beginning to feel heavy after the half dozen 1200 meter repeats my coach had already instructed us to perform. While waiting on the line, coach could tell we needed a little pick-me-up so he said to us, “God helps those who helps themselves.” I don’t know what it was about that statement that hit me so hard, but I questioned it thinking, if God helps those who help themselves, then aren’t we really doing the work? From that moment I realized no one is your savior and if something in your life is not the way you want it, then you better make a change.


I entered the cave on that day, shuffling my feet through the darkness with my hands in front of me feeling around for who knows what, but eventually I found it. My treasure, the ability to see what it is I want and chase it down. There is a famous saying, “every day the lion and gazelle wake up and every day they both must run to survive.” For the most part, there are no super heroes and villains in this world, just people with different perspectives and their perspective is not necessarily to stop you from your dreams but to reach theirs. With that said, what you desire may also be the treasure they chase. The key is not in hating the other, but becoming the “faster runner.” The lion is not evil for eating the gazelle, just as the gazelle is not cruel for denying the lion of his meal. It is simply a matter of perspective. They both have a cave of fears before them and the winner is the one who is willing to enter.

Stay active, 

Chris Johnson 

Categories: Coaching Theory, Chris' Journal, Contemporary Issues in Sport

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