by Brad Manchester
This past Tuesday began as had every other day at the gymnasium. I entered the building, inserted my headphones, and began listening to the latest compositions by Kendrick Lamar.
In my quest to improve the general aesthetics of my pectorals (and perhaps in so doing win the heart of a woman), I undertook the movement commonly known as the “bench press,” lowering a weighted barbell to my chest while lying flat on the titular bench and pushing it upwards again with raw but controlled power and aggression.
I performed this maneuver with two 45-pound plates on either end of the barbell, resulting in a total weight of 225 pounds, or approximately the body weight of a male giant panda. I’m sure you will agree that this was a most impressive total.
In an effort to share my accomplishment with the widest possible social circle, I recorded my bench presses on my mobile phone and uploaded the video to Snapchat, a popular media-sharing app commonly used by my numerous friends and acquaintances. I was aware that the video would only be available for viewing for a limited time, but the true enormity of that fact would remain unknown to me for a few blissful hours.
From there, I went about my daily routine; I attended my classes, I ate hearty meals, and I slept undisturbed. The next morning, I opened Snapchat once more and (oh, would that I could return to this fateful moment and call out some sort of warning to my past self! The agony that such a simple act would have averted!) looked at my bench press video, sure I would find dozens of views and encouraging comments.
But instead, I was shaken to my very core: the view counter read zero.
Zero! I was forced to confront the true horror of my reality; not one soul had viewed my triumphant posting. And now it was lost forever to the ether. I cursed Snapchat to the skies, knowing that no one would ever experience my triumph on their mobile device. I cursed my own ineptitude as well, for I had neglected to post the video to a more indelible medium, like Facebook or Twitter.
“All is lost!” I wailed, praying for the mercy of any god that would listen and take pity on me. But no mercy came. I had bench pressed 225 pounds, and no one knew but me.
I spent the rest of the day mired in shame. Anyone who dared speak to me felt the coldness in my gaze, and the weariness in my step. I was a man undone, and I felt as though I could never be made whole again.
But as I lay in bed that night, pillow still damp with tears, I suddenly achieved a clarity of focus the likes of which I had never experienced before, and I had an epiphany to rival those of the great Zen masters: although no one had seen my Snapchat story, that did not mean that it never existed. For those 24 glorious hours, the internet had played host to my display of prowess and strength, and although it may not do so any longer, it did once, and in that moment, that was enough.
Upon first reading this may sound cruel, but I hope that everyone has the opportunity to go through such an experience. It may cut to the deepest part of you, and make you question your most firm convictions, but you will make it through, and you will be all the stronger and wiser for it.
I, for instance, have made a pact with myself to post all future videos directly to Instagram, so that such misery does not befall me again.
I can now bench press up to 245 pounds, if you would be so kind as to follow my account.
Article actually written by Alex Tranquada