On the wall directly in front of my desk is a string of six photos. No frames, just six 4x6s stuck up there with the blue gummy gunk that makes for easy clean up.

They're successive shots of my final bench press of the last competition. A trainer at the Y said she knew I'd get 125 after failing on the first try, so unbeknownst to me at the time, she took these step by step action shots. Benchers must necessarily perform in a bit of an unattractive position, what with the legs splayed and whatnot; couple that with my facial expressions--comical but equally unattractive--and one might wonder why I've put these where they must be faced on a regular basis.

Because they're a reminder. Of things worth remembering, many of which sound like chapter titles for an edition of Chicken Soup For the Weightlifter's Soul. Striving to be one's best; succeeding in unlikely venues; thanking God you remembered to wear the shirt that covers your midsection.

One problem.

The fifth photo keeps falling.

The very one that demonstrates what willpower can do. Number six is success: arms fully locked out, the bar lifted. In number four, I haven't yet hit my sticking point.

Five, I'm giving it all I've got. Working really hard.

Five is falling. Dangling from a corner one day, on the floor the next.

Life feels like this much of the time, doesn't it? So close to success, then there you are, on the floor. Like walking through a labyrinth: just when you think you'll reach the center, you're rerouted onto another path. Eventually you reach your destination, but not always when you expect to do so.

So you pick yourself up, wipe away the dust bunnies, and try, try again.


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