I am soaked. I feel the hot sweat dripping down, its sting in my eyes. Something inside wants to give way, to void my stomach of its burdens. My mind shuts it down. Everything unessential is suppressed, so that everything unwanted may be carved away.
Some young yuppie milling around behind me taking a breather from five minutes on the treadmill mutters to his friend about how much I am sweating. How I'm working out in boots and long pants. How rude it is. I breath, steady and in rhythm to my body and focus on self improvement.
The tide rises, the urge to vomit argues that it would be a phenomenal act of defiance against the yuppies in the gym with me. Lean sideways and puke on their carpet. Who carpets a gym anyway? They've probably never done anything until they vomited. Not worked out, not run, cried, fucked, or lived until their body couldn't take it and started shedding everything unnecessary. These yuppies, their lives are a monument to the unnecessary – It is their idol, and identity. I breath again, and let them fade away. Vomiting is unnecessary. They are unnecessary. All that matters is self improvement – If they were improving, they'd be too busy to even notice me. Each breath in, my focus returns to me. Each breath out carries something hateful.
Something screams quit. In the mirror I see myself, breathing, sweating. I am ample, and full looking. The man in the mirror snarls at himself. I snarl at him. That fullness must be reduced. I drive on, push harder, sweat more. I wish death upon the man I see: A fundamental stripping down, to sinew and bone, to sheer necessity, to existence alone. A tearing apart until he is worthy of that womans touch he's felt. Until he is worthy of his own goals. Because if I don't, if I cannot become unmade in this act of physical will, then I will succumb to pain, to fear, to neediness. I scream back at the quitting voice, tell it how much it sucks if it can't do these things. Another ten minutes of force is a small goal. Not a woman, not a mountain, not a complete act of deconstruction, much less rebuilding. It's just a few minutes. The man in the mirror can't do it, but I can. Staring him down, killing him a mile at a time, I keep going.
Someday, I will do this to maintain. I will look at the man in the mirror, and I'll keep going for preservation, rather than revelation.