For much of my life, I have been very, very active. Starting as a dancer and a (pretty bad) gymnast at age 5, and then moving into martial arts (primarily capoeira and later tae kwon do). I used these skills in life and in my jobs as a stunt performer. I was strong and fit and pretty damn tough.

After some health issues, I spent several years away from any consistent physical activity. I’d have short spells of taking classes here or there, but nothing as dedicated as I had previously been.

As I write this, I am 3 months in to an attempt at renewing my focus on physical health. My goals are increased strength and endurance. I want a useful body.

Even though I far prefer learning an art form over training at the gym, I also recognize that the gym might be what I need as I nomad around the world. And, to be fair, I do rather like some of the weightlifting. Especially deadlift. Makes me feel strong.

But there is danger here. As I feel my strength growing, as I lift heavier & heavier weights, I start to compete with who I used to be. This 41-year-old body is not the same as my 30-year-old body or my 20-year-old body. I start to think in terms of limitations, and it frustrates me.

There is a great deal of strength in gentleness. And there can be a power in respecting boundaries. I have great admiration for the physical strength I once had. I’m learning slowly to have respect for the different strengths I have now.

Here’s to competing with our past selves and hopefully walking to the finish line arm in arm.