Well, one thing I did not expect on this fine Thursday evening was to feel seen and understood by NFL player J.J. Watt during his post-workout recovery ice bath. Yes, it’s true: Watt (along with fellow NFL players Brian Peters, Derek Watt, and T.J. Watt) submerged himself in the torture chamber also known as an ice bath, which in his case is just a chunk taken out of a frozen lake, which is pretty badass and also very picturesque. Ice baths are a nice/painful way to prevent inflammation (which causes muscle soreness), but truth be told, I’m not here to talk about health benefits. I’m here because from the moment I first saw these photos, aka about an hour ago, I have felt seen. I have felt understood.
When I look at these photos, I see: an existential crisis, but also, pouting. I see Thanos gazing out over an apocalypse of his own making. I see resilience and calm acceptance of fate, and yet, hints of turmoil buried deep inside. I see the whole roller coaster of emotions I, personally, have been experiencing over the past *checks calendar* year-that-might-also-have-been-a-decade. I look at J.J. Watt in an ice bath and somehow, some way, I see someone who knows what I’m going through right now. Look at that determined gaze into the distance. He gets it.
Look, I didn’t expect this and you probably didn’t either. And maybe I’m alone in having this feeling, because for the past 15 minutes I’ve been scouring Twitter for memes and all I’ve found are people debating whether ice baths work (they sure do, friends!) and commenting on how slow of a sports day it must be that this is what everyone’s talking about (I mean, yeah). But I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Look at J.J. Watt. Look at his enormous biceps and his determined, deeply troubled, pain-masking stare. That’s a man who’s seen some sh*t. That’s a man who knows.