First Things First

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Every Day is a Challenge

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This is not important reading. You will not discover shortcuts to muscular excellence, weight loss, personality transformation or financial stability. This is an extemporaneous rambling, an unfolding of thoughts that occur to me as I forge my way though yet another day. Life is good and wonderful and filled with joy. This is my first impression and enduring description, never to be rescinded. Life is also worrisome, cruel and filled with pain.

I donít resist the notion that all things happen for a purpose; all things are as they are and they have brought us this day is proof enough of that. The world is perfectly imperfect. This is it, this is life. We can only change the course of things by what we do now and the plans we make today and implement tomorrow. Thereís hope for this fruit basket, if it wasnít for all the nuts in the world.

So, you and I and our brothers and sisters carry on day by day to survive and live well, laugh and love. In the course of events, we notice our own shortcomings and weaknesses, our sins and evil nature. So be it. Keep your eyes open; watch yourself, know you are part of the problem and contribute to its solution. Why we complicate things, Iíll never know.

Well, come to think of it, I do know.

Or, at least, I think I know. Pride. Self-centeredness, mankindís driving force, is simultaneously his most iniquitous nature, faulty beyond all others. Egocentricity is a destructive defect and hides its ugly head from its proprietor. Our overwhelming need to have things our way and resist things any other way is in our bones, a conceited madness convincing us we are first and foremost, the center, numero uno. I deserve, am owed and should have priority, control, abundance and a host of admirable qualities, humility notwithstanding.

The Bible defines manís pride as his underlying sin. The Good Book is full of forewarnings, guidance, preventions and solutions, but we canít go there without a lot of explanation, apology and, ironically, hateful feelings. Thus, Iíll dodge the silver bullet and toss around some ideas that come from outer space and mythology, scientific fairytales and the shallow depths of my mind. ďFactual conjecture is worth a thousand pointless words.Ē Phonygeus, 3000 BC

Curiously, it is self-centeredness -- AKA selfishness -- that gets us to the gym. And it is within the gym walls, paradoxically, that we modify the damning creature hang-up, the ego, and make it a livable and almost adorable companion.

The gym entertains, focuses the mind, rallies the resources, teaches us how to count, how to plan, how to perform and endure and enjoy endless exercises that make us bigger and better, healthier and more resilient, smarter and stronger, faster and more agile, wiser and more patient.

You might think Iím about to repeat myself as I tend to do, become redundant and possibly obnoxious, but I resist the temptation. Oh, wait. Discipline, perseverance, responsibility, respect, modesty, sharing and caring almost slipped my mind.

Next time you have a picnic, a family reunion, a stockholderís meeting, an old-time revival, a bar mitzvah, blues festival, rock concert or wedding ceremony, have it in the gym.

The gym, or any version of a gym, whether itís a heap of weights at the foot of your bed or a chinning bar in your basement or the Y in your neighborhood, is not a temple, and exercise is not a worship. It is not a university complete with courses taught by professors. The gym is just the simplest of places to put your body in action with the mind by its side. Together in harmony, they seek and reach, discover and unfold, develop and improve and effect the application of the strong and fine qualities of life that were meant to make you better, perhaps the best.

It all has to do with the character qualities that inevitably develop as you develop your muscles and might. Once you initiate and pursue the joy of lifting, living becomes less resistant, larger and more fulfilling. One aspires when one has discipline and perseverance in oneís strong hand. Patience makes room for a grin and humbleness reaps a smile. Any boastfulness and rudeness struck down by hard training is a good thing and the absence of the rogues allows and contributes to oneís admirable makeover.

Discipline begets true training and true training begets discipline. The energetic and enduring cycle goes on. Sound workouts beget resolve and resolve begets sound workouts. See how it works? Sure as rain. Smart exercise begets fulfillment and so the story goes. Wait! Thereís more. I donít know anyone who exercises with integrity who doesnít improve eating habits to complement these efforts. True training begets intelligence and commonsense.

No one said it was easy and some overweight folks have an extra difficult problem before them. Their weight is out of control and their chemistry is upside down. The years of habitual poor eating and overeating and unfriendly genetics have them boxed in and at their witís end. Double-XL obesity might not be corrected entirely, but it can be stopped, reversed and managed. Early confrontation will remarkably limit the toll obesity takes on oneís life and the debilitating sense of no-control or lost-control will be circumvented. Energy and endurance, strength and muscle tone, lost inches and shed pounds are addictive.

Every day is a challenge -- the best day, the ordinary day, the sleeper and the one that shakes you to the core. None are the same; they are not predictable and taking them for granted is a grave mistake. One day theyíre gone, mine, yours, your friendís, your enemyís. The idea is to make the most of each day every day, sunrise to sunset, without flogging yourself or others.

Godís speed.

Dave Draper


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