The shot-putter was really very good to me. He introduced me to several other participants and explained to me the discipline of putting the shot. In theory, one must train and develop his muscles so as to be able to put the shot as far as possible.
And he was very good at it. Why, he was always carrying that shot around with him. All sixteen pounds of it. He would toss it from his right had to his left hand, building strength in his wrists. He would squeeze his fingers around it and massage it. He never let go of that shot. It was always with him. A man has to be pretty strong to carry around that much extra weight. The shot-putter taught me everything he knew.
So I concerned myself with strengthening my body. I was constantly squeezing little rubber balls and other artificial devices in order to strengthen my hands and wrists. I exercised in order to build up my muscles and I ate special foods to add weight to my body. I, too, became a shot-putter. In fact, I was pretty good at it.
When the time came, when my motives were right, when my mind was in the proper frame of thought, I would put the shot. I would spin around to gain momentum and get every part of my body behind the shot and I would put it as far as is humanly possible. But it never went very far.
Then, of course, I would always go and pick it up. After all, it was my weight and I wanted it and I was going to have it. No one else could have my shot. I carried it with me everywhere. I wasn't running, but I was performing. I was doing something. I had my weight which was always with me. And I was happy because I told myself I was happy, but I wasn't running. Something was missing and I was sad.
I felt the best whenever I threw the shot far away. But that happiness always left when my weight returned. In fact, the only pleasure I then received was in throwing the shot. But since I always picked it up my triumphs slipped into sorrow.
As I looked around me, I noticed the other performers. I watched as they ran and jumped and threw. There was the discus thrower. He too, carried a weight with him, but it was a different weight. A better weight for throwing. Why he could throw this weight three or four times as far as I could throw mine. And I thought about changing weights, about getting a new weight that I could throw farther away.
But I noticed that he, too, picked up his weight and carried it with him. There seemed to be little sense in changing from one weight to another. Because there was little difference, I kept my weight and cherished it, because it was mine and I thought I wanted it.
Then I watched the javelin thrower. I watched him run and throw his spear through the air. I watched it fly long and far. And when it landed, he would pick it up and put it away. He didn't carry it with him, but he still owned it. It was still his. He just hid it in his closet and took it out on game days. But he still had it. It was still his. He just didn't have to carry it all the time.
I thought of changing, but why change if there's so little difference? Why have a hidden weight which is still a weight? Why pretend you don't have one when you really do? Why not get rid of the weight entirely?
Then I watched a jumper. And he didn't have a weight. Not even a hidden weight. And that's what I wanted. I wanted to rid myself of this weight that was besetting me. But how? How does one get rid of that which he has become attached to? How?
It was then that I noticed the coach, and he noticed me.
"What's your trouble, my son?"
"It's this weight, I'm tired of it. I want to be rid of it."
"Are you sure you're through with it?"
"Why not give it to me?"
"Will you get rid of it for me?"
"I can if you want me to."
"I do. I do want you to. Here, take my weight from me. I don't want to see it again."
And he took it in one of his hands. He didn't look as if he could even carry it, but he said he could and he did, and I knew his hands had carried the weight of many shots.
He took my weight and smiled at me as if nothing had been added to him that he had not already borne. He took it and with just a flick of his wrist he sent it hurtling through the air. Not just sixty or seventy feet, mind you, but thousands, no, millions of feet. Why, my weight flew out of the stadium through the heavens, over the mountains, across the valleys. He threw it into the depths of the deepest sea where no man will ever see my weight again.
I was free again. I was free like I was when I entered the arena. No weight, no added burden. No shot to put.
And I hadn't done it, I couldn't throw it far enough. But he did. My coach did. He had freed me from my weight and I was no longer a shot putter. Instead, I became a jumper.