The burden of responsibility places you in a relationship with your own choices, whether you want it or not.
The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre says, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
According to Sartre, we are all free to make our own choices. He uses the word “condemned” because he recognizes that we did not have the choice of being created but yet, here we are.
Therefore, the moment we reach self-awareness, which we all eventually do, we inevitably make choices and must accept that those choices result from the very fact that we are free to choose.
Ironically, the only choice we do not have is that of having choices. In other words, even if you decide that you do not want to choose, that is a choice and therefore, you are still choosing, just maybe without the same conscious responsibility that Sartre suggests we should have.
A person fighting against Sartre’s description of reality often manifests that conflict with their language when using words like “I must,” or “I have to” in reference to their ongoing responsibilities.
These phrases mean nothing in the context of Sartre’s examination of personal responsibility because in actuality, you do not HAVE to do anything if you choose not to. The only thing we do is make choices. Once those choices are made, we are responsible for all of the outcomes and those choices are inevitable so we are condemned with the freedom of choice.
Take a deep breath, it’ll be okay.
Here, watch this puppy dance for a few minutes.
If we replaced the heavy lifting, hard gymnastics, and grueling sweaty workouts with smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and long philosophical discussions with friends late into the night, I think Sartre would have liked CrossFit.
I think he would have enjoyed the fact that the prescribed workouts are not some pre-existing essence of CrossFit that have been ordained by some all-knowing higher power. Instead a workout only has meaning in that athletes execute it and facilitate the stimulation of an intended outcome.
Sartre’s expansion of the philosophical movement known as existentialism posits that “existence precedes essence.” As he says, “Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.”
Requiring that a coach, a workout, a movement, or some other external construct define meaning for you is absurd. You will not find it. What you will do is make a choice to be satisfied or not. In making that choice, you have, wait for it…made a choice.
So, if your choice does not satisfy the stimulus that you desire, make a different choice – that is your ultimate freedom and responsibility as a conscious human being existing in the world.
The Rx vs. Scaled conversation comes to an end with one final thought – the journey of fitness is yours, no one else’s. Along that journey, you will have help. You will have ups. You will have downs. But, in the context of CrossFit’s stated mission of increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains, there is only one person who can do the work – YOU.
That’s a lot of responsibility and that is why Sartre says we are condemned to be free and why we experience the anguish of existence.
But we are CrossFitters and we thrive on anguish. We relish the opportunity to do hard things because that’s how we know we are existing in a world that is innately hard. That’s how we know we are still growing.
As Albert Camus said the secret is not wishing for Sisyhpus to have to stop pushing the boulder up the mountain but rather, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Happy boulder rolling. I’ve got a high five for you when you get to the top.
See you on the creek. -Coach Jack