Risk – is so risky. What if I fail? What if I make a fool of myself and still fail? What if I succeed? How will I top this success and find a new risk?

What a life! If I live it safely, it is too one-dimensional and quite frankly, boring. If I take risks, I run the chance of flopping miserably and being embarrassed. Not only that, but maybe I will bring shame to myself and those who believed in me.

How much of this self-talk limits me or anyone else? No way to really know. Perhaps adrenaline junkies love this stuff. I’m not sure how weenies are supposed to manage. I am a weenie. Do we talk ourselves out of things that are too risky and so avoid falling on our faces? Or do we miss the chance to be awesome because we never took that fateful step outside our comfort zone?

I’m pretty much afraid of everything. Fear is constantly whispering to me, telling me what could go wrong. Perfectionism is my excuse. I want to be perfect; I am human; humans are not perfect, ever. Hence, I never ever meet the goal. Why try?

The first time I stepped into a racquetball court, I was playing with Dick and Cousin Bill. Bill would helpfully tell me “You should have been over there” every time I missed a shot because I was nowhere near the ball. I hadn’t yet learned to read the walls and know where the ricocheted ball would be located for a good hit. I learned it. I eventually challenged Dick and Bill to a game of cutthroat. Bill is left handed and I served to both their forehands. I won. That was my intention. Every time Bill missed a shot because he was in the wrong place I helpfully said, “You should have been over there.” I’m a bitch, too.

I turned out to be a pretty good racquetball player. I played often, practiced my “trick” shots which were just perfectly placing the ball for a Z-shot ricochet ending in the front wall corner about two inches from the floor. I even did it backhand.

But then we moved and I worked full time and the racquetball club didn’t really work well with my new schedule. I stopped. I stopped playing and I stopped most exercise of any type. That’s because I loathe exercise. I love playing a game and having the chance to win. But to just exercise is mind-numbingly awful. Hate it. Abhor, detest, despise, abominate it.

I got old. My son says I’m fearless because I have switched careers a few times. I thought I was just responding to new circumstances. When I couldn’t work in OR because of migraines, I went back to get a second degree and taught computer classes to anyone aged 5 and over. Really. I taught kindergarten through high school and did adult classes. Then we moved. Now I’m doing administrative work which used to be called secretarial work but the bigger word (rather than bigger pay) is supposed to make me feel better.

Nothing about my life is particularly challenging. I learned the new programs and systems the first year I was underemployed and can whiz through that without much challenge. Life without challenge is not all that wonderful. That’s the whole problem with retirement. There is no more challenge unless you make it up yourself. That leads some of us into strange choices.

My choice was CrossFit and for some reason, I don’t see it as exercise. I have no idea why I picked something so onerous. I have no idea why I’ve stuck with it. Except that it scares me. Almost daily. I look at the WOD and try to figure out how in the world an old coot like me is supposed to manage this shit. And that’s after working so hard for so long. There is no earthly reason for me to not have quit after the first month. I could do exactly nothing. I would say I could do jack squat, but I couldn’t even properly squat.

I whined. I complained. I whined some more. I went back and tried again. Do or do not, there is no try – said Yoda. But all I could do was try. I couldn’t really DO, but I didn’t exactly NOT DO, either. I couldn’t do a pull-up so I did ring rows. I couldn’t do a real pushup. I fell over when trying to lunge so a weighted lunge was out of the question. But I tried. Again and again.

I risked myself into various injuries. I’ve been to chiropractors and massage therapists. So far, no ER visits have been needed (unlike racquetball where I actually had a couple broken bones and uncounted bruises and other injuries).

Am I awesome yet? I hear CrossFit makes you awesome. I want to be awesome. It’s been a long time since I felt awesome so maybe, CrossFit can do something for me even at this late date.

I know what I am now that I’m challenging myself four times a week. Well, besides sleep deprived. I’m stronger, fitter, more flexible, more resilient. I can do banded pull-ups instead of ring rows and real wormy pushups. I can lunge down the mat without falling over. I can clean, jerk, deadlift, squat with or without weight – front and back. I have calluses on my hands and bruises on my shin – still. I have muscles where old people usually don’t. I have a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

And four times a week, I’m scared. I’m taking a huge risk. I could fail. I could make a fool of myself. I could hurt myself. Or perhaps, maybe, I could prove myself to me. I’m not old and feeble. I’m just old. And powerful. And … awesome?