We all have different versions of ourselves who show up from day to day. 

There’s the “parent you,” the “partner/spouse you,” the “roommate you,” the “boss you,” the “employee you,” the “I just want my coffee so please don’t talk to me, you.” 

The list is endless.

In their enlightening work, Your Symphony of Selves: Discover and Understand More of Who We Are, Dr. James Fadiman and Jordan Gruber explore how so many of our problems arise when we find ourselves holding onto a false illusion that all of our “selves” should inherently fuse into a unified whole at all times. Too often, we feel a sense of dissonance when we want to be a different self for a specific situation but we are held to some arbitrary standard of being one way all the time by various elements of society.

The reality, according to Fadiman and Gruber, is that we organically develop different selves to deal with different aspects of our lives and the seamless or sometimes not so seamless transition between these different versions is normal. If we DON’T transition or CAN’T transition, that’s when problems arise. 

Interestingly, Buddhists will tell you that there is no self and holding onto the illusion of an “I” leads to unending suffering.

Though a slightly different take on the whole idea, I see a similarity between them. Whether the suffering comes from thinking there should be one, many, or no “selves,” there’s a shared thread of suffering coming from holding onto a false illusion concerning what should or should not be, rather than simply seeing what is. 

In the end, I’m not sure where I fall in this philosophical debate but I do appreciate the metaphoric sense that there are lots of “Jacks” driving the bus upstairs in that noggin of mine and it’s a moment to moment debate about who gets to hold the wheel.

To imagine that no one is at the wheel or that there isn’t even a bus, well, I’m not quite at that state of nirvana yet but if I ever ascend there, I’ll be sure to let you know how it’s going…or not, because I won’t exist.

As I was thinking about this concept of different “selves,” I began to ask what makes a CrossFit gym special in this existential journey of figuring out our place in the world. Now, I know that not everything comes back to CrossFit. But who are we kidding? Everything can come back to CrossFit if you try hard enough. 

I began to imagine our affiliate not so much as a place, or simply the equipment, or really anything physical but rather as a moment where we inherently join in a collective act of being seen.

People want to see your cool new shirt, your car, your swanky new lifters. These are the tangible totems in which we adorn ourselves to signify our CrossFitter-ness. Perhaps many of us bristle at the attention, or feign indifference, but deep down these are the outward signs that suggest we actually love seeing ourselves as part of something more than just ourselves. 

Look at how we behave on our virtual platforms. 

We post, we comment, we fist bump on SugarWOD because we want to see our score, our PRs, and we want to see others. We yearn to feel a metaphysical sense of place and belonging manifested in a physical reality and shared across virtual mediums.

I’ve seen Netflix’s The Social Dilemma and I can hear someone argue that this is all an unhealthy, narcissistic, 21st Century version of basic navel-gazing where we aren’t actually seeing each other but rather watching the world from behind the illusion of safety that restricts us into our own unhealthy emotional echo chambers.

But I don’t think that is actually true in this case. 

At Fairwinds, the act of seeing and being seen is a shared act. No one is simply looked AT. Sure, your coaches watch you to see your movement. We assess you, we look at points of performance, and we see those improvements while trying to help you overcome obstacles you are still facing.  But our scope of practice is not defined as “teach, WATCH, correct.” Nope, the CrossFit Level 1 manual defines a coach as a professional who “teaches, SEES, and corrects” movement. We see you.

On the creek, each athlete shares a level of investment in this game of human interaction and because we each have a literal and figurative amount of skin in the game, it’s not simply a process of watching each other.

That’s where the idea of different selves seemed to be the philosophical glue to hold this week’s musings together.

On many days, I’m not always ready to coach and athletes aren’t always ready to move. On others, we all hit the ground running and it’s beautiful.

Many mornings, I do not want to pick up your emotional baggage and you don’t want me to. Then again, maybe we meet and it’s a full on soul-swap where we boost each other up and turn those frowns upside down. 

Either way, no matter what version of us has shown up that day, we see each other’s faces. We recognize that there is another human standing in front of us and we have the ability to let each other know that we see the other person. 

I can tell you that even if I can’t feel what you are feeling, I can hear what you are saying, and I can see you for who you are.

It takes just a little bit of effort to know each other’s names, to acknowledge those fancy new shoes, and to see someone trying as hard as possible to make the next 60 minutes worthwhile, even if today, just showing up was our win.

At Fairwinds, and I would argue at most of the CrossFit affiliates around the world, we work really hard at giving you the chance, for at least an hour of your day, to be whatever version of yourself you need to be.

I think that’s pretty cool.

And see, it all comes back to CrossFit if you just try a little bit harder.

We’ll see you down on the Creek.

-Coach Jack