It’s been nearly a year since Oregon’s first stay-home order, and people have certainly adjusted their lifestyles to be in accordance with the rules of quarantine. Many of my friends and family described this adaptation as a serious burden on their mental health. However, distinguishing himself from the rest is Ethan J. 22’. Ethan described his quarantine as “the beginning of greatness.”
Ethan’s quarantine began as many quarantines had begun: terribly. When asked to describe the initial weeks, he referred me to Kanye West’s song “Coldest Winter.” I was “down horrendous,” he said. “I couldn’t see friends, my girlfriend broke up with me, and with nowhere to work out, I felt tired and weak.” While browsing YouTube, Ethan came across a moving video by Aziz Shavershian, an Australian fitness influencer who passed away in 2011. Aziz or “Zyzz”, as his fans called him, was famous for his magnificent impact on the weightlifting community. Through media, Zyzz inspired young people to get in the gym and prioritize their well-being over fitting in. Within a week, Ethan’s garage was filled to the brim with gym equipment. He trained daily in grueling, five to six hour sessions in order to become “the greatest ever.”
Ethan and I reunited five months ago after not seeing each other since 2018. I first noticed his change in mentality while parking in front of his house. It was the end of summer, so I had my windows down and was listening to music pretty loud, but I could distinctly hear him screaming in agony from inside his garage. I nervously walked up his driveway, scared of what I might find. I was relieved to see him sitting on a bench, alive and well, yelling at a pair of 40 lb dumbbells while he curled them. Above him hung a banner of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the word “Conquer” in big white letters.
We talked, and he told me about his lifting journey through quarantine. Through the influence of bodybuilders like Zyzz and Arnold, Ethan had developed his own theories about conquering the mind. “Many people never discover the true potential of their body, but if you’re willing to give it your all, if you’re willing to crush your body into the ground, you may start to discover your true potential. That’s why I’m in [the gym] all the time. I’m going to be the best!” He believes by working through the most physical pain possible, he will harden his mind to overcome anything. According to Ethan’s “studies,” which he did not disclose, 90 percent of life is mental, and his advanced strategies will make him the best lifter of this generation.
Nowadays, you will probably find Ethan in his garage yelling to himself, “lightweight baby!” as he deadlifts an impressive 600 pounds. Here is his final word, which he would like everyone to take with them during these difficult times: “Life is hard, so make your mind harder. Lightweight baby!”