First Things First

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Greet Each Day


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The days, they go by. Monday will always be Monday, blue as a bruise. Tuesday is chest-and-back day, the only way you can identify the everyday day, give it distinction. Wednesday is the day in the middle of the week, and the center of things is generally agreeable. Thursday offers hope, as most of the work week is complete and tomorrow is Friday. Yes! Friday is Friday, a rainbow of colors if you plan to paint it. And where there's a rainbow, there's a pot of gold -- the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.

Greet each day with a hug and a pat on the back; better yet, make that a bear hug and a slap on the back. Recognize them or not, they are some of the best friends you've got -- here today and gone tomorrow.

The days are separate and distinct, yet there are times when they follow each other like soup cans on an assembly line. Hum, clink, clink. You count the cans as they wobble by, bored and thankless. Hum, clink, clink. Suddenly and without notice, the machinery stops and the doors are thrown open to cold winds and the rush of traffic. Soup cans resemble scrap metal as they pile up one on the other. Urgency fills the air and things must be done. Catch a plane, consult a lawyer, stop the bleeding or console the grieving.

You adapt, and, as always, wish you'd been grateful when you had the time. Instead, you're grateful now, the best you can do.

Exciting days, those filled with hope, inspiration and encouragement, the days of production, enlightenment and achievement -- the winning days -- consume us on momentous occasions and leave us spinning. Too good to be true, we forego appreciation and anticipate their ends. Or, convinced we deserve them, we bask in their glory as if they'll never end. Hum, clink, clink... Soup's on, cream of celery, your favorite.

We're learning, day by day. Thank heaven for weightlifting and musclebuilding, we are able to make every day a special day. Once past the front counter and dumbbell rack, we can finesse our training into a fulfilling challenge or an engaging game, a skillful sport, an uplifting activity or a delightful diversion. Soup-can days and days of eruption and disruption can be transformed into entertaining, productive and healing days.

Does your workout seep into your work day, or does your work day seep into your workout? Do you succumb to the follies of life, or do they become dust under your strong strides? Are you hampered by momentary intrusions, halted by daily obstacles or propelled by the power of a vigorous spirit, mind and body?

Where you have control, take control: Exercise and eat right! Training rules and you're the law. It's the stabilizer when your foothold slips, the fortifier when plans are laid waste, the friend you know amid strangers, the oxygen and fruit of life in a barren place. Exercise and fitness are not options. They're essentials.

Hard to recognize and easy to forget, it's your training and the things it affords that keep you standing when others fall, pressing on when others retreat and smiling when others sneer.

We hear it all the time: I don't have time to go to the gym... the kids, the job, the man. I know; it's tough. We grow weary and hope wavers; our bones ache and time scatters; the barbells are heavy and stuck to the floor.

Poor baby! Give up. What's the use? Get a plasma and recall the good old days during halftime and station breaks. What's in the fridge?

You don't lose your health and strength; you throw it away. You don't get out of condition; you're tossed out for lack of participation.

Fitness is not lost; it's squandered like thankless treasure. Your muscles don't get soft; they evacuate. Strength moves out when your stomach moves in and stamina checks out while you're sleeping... on the couch in the middle of the day.

Sorry! You've been deserted.

No man is an island, though I sometimes see myself as a weed patch adrift in the swamp of life.

It is with this lighthearted attitude I proceed day by day, noble in purpose and gallant in pursuit. Independent, unfettered, untroubled and free, that's me. I obey the law most of the time because most laws are good most of the time. Where there is law there is order; where there is order we prevail and where there is chaos we fail. I watch, I see, I glean and I apply. I avoid convention and the way of the masses, unless, of course, the ways work. Too often they are too ordinary to be worthy, round pegs for round holes, square pegs for square holes. Not for this mutt.

I derived this sense of direction from my mom and dad, good people who put a roof over my head and pointed me forward. Now this is not the worst method to prepare a kid for the future. Thanks, Ma. To spoil and offer no direction is by far the most frightening tactic of all.

Life is serious and we're on the line and the enemy surrounds us; projectiles fly, the bandits want our things and the ERs are full; kids are without heroes and heroes are without kids; the wrongs pile up on the backs of the weak and downtrodden; the rich get richer and leaders speak with forked tongues or are misunderstood.

Ah, but the gym exists with its metal and geometry -- circles, arcs, straight lines and angles -- and pure sounds, like crash, squeak, clank and thud. The gym offers force and pain and relief. It provides challenge and struggle and satisfaction. Stress doesn't have a chance; like weeds, it's pulled and burned for fuel.

Athletes, wiseguys and gals, cool dudes and sweethearts of every age gather around piles of dead weight to be taunted and proven, purified and invigorated, strengthened and liberated. No one loses, everyone gains.

Problems are poured into vats of toil beneath the heat of presses, deadlifts and squats. The smell of evaporating woe is invigorating, intoxicating. The occasional groan you hear, honest and provoking, is a song of delight, an ode to desire, a one-syllable poem filling the air. All else is silence or rock 'n roll.

Fly high with all your might.

dd

*****

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