Against the Flow

I wish I had the strength of… my wife


So, now it’s out there. Even in my dreams, I would not have thought that I would wish for such a thing one day, and that I also would not be ashamed of it.

The fact is that the bodies of seemingly weak women are slightly deceptive, but in reality, as you already know, they are stronger than men.

For a long time, I thought that this was not definitely my case. But I should not have married my extraordinary wife.

I found out that even I, as a former top athlete and physical education graduate, am severely disadvantaged as a male in comparison to my wife.

Not only is she five years younger than me, but thanks to six pregnancies and the subsequent care of the children, she has had more than 20 years of intensive strength endurance training. Try to hold a baby in one arm for 20 years and carry out all the necessary work with the other hand – cleaning, cooking, slicing vegetables, washing dishes… No wonder my wife has  strong arms of steel. And as if that was not enough, she practises Chinese Yoga every day for several hours with her clients.

While I, at most, except for occasional bouts of sporting activities, throw grain to the chickens and type with one finger on my laptop. By the way, my wife types about ten times faster on the keyboard than I do. Not with two or four fingers like me, but using all ten. She calmly manages to simultaneously copy a several-hour-long lecture, even relaxing when the lecturer takes a breath.

She has an incredible forceful endurance and surprisingly surpasses me in many disciplines, such as the hanging position on the horizontal bar; headstand, handstand and forearm stand; endurance with hands overhead and holding the arms… When we correct the position of a big picture on the wall, I feel as if she, unlike myself, could hold it for an infinitely long time. She has the same stamina, for example, when painting rooms which she likes to do by herself.

When we baked our sourdough bread professionally, which sometimes required 20-hour work shifts, she had the stamina that would even defeat an ox. Moreover, she was still pregnant at that time. Would that be an advantage? Actually, there were two of them doing that job. I still do not understand how she managed it. She was able constantly to endure demanding manual labour for many hours. And this in the almost 100 % humidity, and crazy, tropical 30 °C heat demanded by our sourdough.

I was exhausted just by looking at her and watching how incredibly she managed everything.

Especially during that hard work, in addition she was able to connect her wonderful energy to the bread, and fine-tune it, thanks to which her bread tasted so good to people.

And so it happened one day that I was horrified at the thought:

I wish I had the strength of my wife.

If I did not know that my wife could “connect” herself to an inexhaustible source and that she could “extract” energy out of the universe, I would almost have suspected that she sometimes drew her energy from me. While she is almost constantly incredibly charged and full of energy, I often feel as weak as a kitten (or a fly) compared to her. Actually much weaker. Since a fly carries 1.6 times its body weight, and can even fly with such weight, it is quite strong, don’t you think? Perhaps it should be said: “He has a great deal of strength. He is as strong as a fly.” Maybe I needn’t have such strength as my wife has.

I would be modestly satisfied with the strength of a fly.

But I think I’m in good company and do not have to be ashamed of anything.

Just like me, the first Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor  Charles IV had a lively and uninhibited wife, Elizabeth of Pomerania, who had such legendary strength that, at the request of their guests, she even broke swords, bent horseshoes and rolled tin plates with her bare hands.

When even such an impressive and glorious Emperor had a wife who was much stronger than he and whom he liked to show off to his guests, then why not I?

I have to invent very complicated disciplines in which I still can trump my wife.

For example, pull-ups. She can’t do them really well. But I am afraid that when she connects her neurological-muscular coordination to this movement, which she has not yet done, I will lose out again. When she beats me at pull-ups, I think I will even be delighted in a perverse way. It is as if a coach is delighted when one day his successful student surpasses him, thereby fulfilling the coach’s dream.

I still beat her at lifting heavy loads – possibly 25-50 kg bags of grain – but for how much longer?

The opening of tight lids of jars is also too much for her. Sometimes I suspect that she gives me the jars to open on purpose, to maintain the last shreds of my male dignity and vanity. I think she knows very well that it is sufficient to let in some air under the lid with the aid of the other end of a spoon to balance the pressure, and then it opens easily.

Even the strongest woman sometimes needs to be a weak woman, to be taken care of by her strong man.

A man she can lean on and on whose shoulder she can cry.

Well, recently I just had wet hands and could not open the jam jar lid. My wife said, “Give it to me, I’ll try.” She took the lid, turned it twice, it clicked and the lid was opened. Total embarrassment!  “Because you tried it, it was definitely loosened,” she said, so as not to disgrace me. Of course. I had wet hands and it was slippery. I’m not joking! But I still went into a depression because of it for several days.

If you hold the “plank” for 3 minutes, I’ll start practising Qigong

Some time ago, my wife completely fell for Chinese Yoga and so she was constantly tempting me and urging me to practise it. “It does not appeal to me,” I told her. “It’s too static for me.” And I continued to practise my press-ups, pull-ups, gymnastics and jogging.

At that time, our oldest son had just practised and tested his stamina at press-ups on the forearms, the so-called “plank”. After a few weeks of training, he managed to hold the plank for over 4.5 minutes. It is a seemingly easy, innocent-looking exercise, that is actually very demanding on muscle stamina and thoroughly tests the deep musculature of the body centre. An untrained individual starts to shake uncontrollably after a few seconds, and muscle fatigue, especially of the abdominal and back muscles, forces him to stop the exercise. When I tried the plank for the first time, I did not last for a full minute. In a few days, I managed the endurance of about two minutes.

One day, when my wife again tried to persuade me to practise Yoga with her, to get rid of her I said, “Well, when you last for 3 minutes in the plank, I’ll start practising with you. We’ll see if Chinese Yoga has such an extraordinary effect, and if it has really given you more strength, flexibility and endurance in the time you have practised it.” Of course, I’ve exaggerated the time of my endurance. What if she had beginner’s luck? My wife just asked me to explain to her what the plank was and how to do it, because she had never before tried it. So my son and I gave her a briefing and held a stopwatch with the expectation that she would give up in a minute.

When she lay in the plank position, somehow suspiciously strengthened, I thought maybe she would last for one minute. The first minute passed, and as the next one approached, I said to myself, “Okay, yes, she’ll probably beat me, but she’s also 25 kilograms lighter and 5 years younger.”

Ha! Her body began to shake, a sign of the end inexorably approaching.

It’s the end, I win!!

But wait… What’s going on? My wife suddenly breathes in and out to de-stress. She stops shaking and continues. The third minute starts to run and my wife is still stiff, without any signs of bending in her loins. I tell her not to be crazy and that she won’t be able to move later and will strain herself, as this is her first time. But it is as if she can’t hear. Immersed in herself, without any visible signs of effort, she continues. Three minutes pass.

So I am in deep trouble, I lose the bet.

“Stop!! You win!”

But my wife still goes on. The fourth minute passes and she is just starting to attack the record of her 19-year-old son. I start yelling at her to stop or she’ll cause herself an injury. But she takes no heed of me and continues.

Only when she hears my shouts to stop the endurance immediately because it’s dangerous, does she end the plank.

“Five minutes!! It’s not possible!”

The stopwatch stopped at 5:04 and my wife, showing no signs of exhaustion or strain, calmly got up.

I really think I won’t admit her performance retroactively.

Anyway she says that Yoga is not just exercise, but mainly working with inner images, soothing and comforting the mind and breathing.

Of course, meditation. I knew it was a trick.

I suspect that she could have spent the whole day in the plank. So, of course we can’t count that.

Likewise in the position called the “tree”, she lasted for one hour the very first time, and stopped only when she was told to stop, because she had ceased to perceive the time. Most people, when they try the tree for the first time, stop within five, or a maximum of ten minutes.

She simply controls her muscles through her thoughts and inner images. Is this the secret to her strength and real lightness?  

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