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Weight Training is Character Building

Pride, Self-Centeredness and Selfishness

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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 This is my first impression and enduring description, never to be rescinded.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. To the diminishment of its later distinctions I dedicate my days. I am not unlike you.

I don’t 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 today. That is, was one thing that happened -- a flood, a blaze, a war, a newborn, a moved grain of sand -- not to have happened, the world would be different. The perfectly imperfect world we know would not exist as we know it; it would not be. Thus, what has been was meant to be. 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. There’s hope for this fruit basket, if it wasn’t 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.

I only allow myself to think on these impossible things when it’s three o’clock in the morning and my eyes are like quarters staring at the darkened ceiling over my bed. Laree is quietly breathing by my side and Mugs is stalking mice in the wilds of Western civilization. Otherwise, I’m as deep as rain in the desert sand. Why we complicate things, I’ll never know.

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

Or, at least, I think I know. Pride. Self-centeredness, mankind’s 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 man’s pride as his underlying sin. The Good Book is full of forewarnings, guidance, preventions and solutions, but we can’t go there without a lot of explanation, apology and, ironically, hateful feelings. Thus, I’ll 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. “Factual conjecture is worth a thousand pointless words.” Phonygeus, 3000 BC

Curiously, it is self-centeredness -- AKA selfishness -- that gets me to the gym. And it is within the gym walls, paradoxically, that I modify the damning creature hang-up, the ego, and make it a livable and almost adorable companion. I love the gym because it soothes my soul, my most inner place, as it builds my muscles, my most outer place. The gym entertains me, focuses my mind, rallies my resources, teaches me how to count, how to plan, how to perform and endure and enjoy endless exercises that make me bigger and better, healthier and more resilient, smarter and stronger, faster and more agile, wiser and more patient. You might think I’m 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 stockholder’s meeting, an old-time revival, a gun show, a bar mitzvah, blues festival, rock concert or wedding ceremony, have it in the gym.

The gym, or any version of a gym, whether it’s 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.

I can’t help myself. Wrong doesn’t belong, but there it is, perfect imperfection, staring us in the face at every bend. Sometimes wrong looks like right, and it mystifies me how. Imagine someone crashing a jet aircraft into a most magnificent structure full of people and saying it’s right, it is good, Allah be glorified. How and why a handful of whacks for their perverted illusions oppress nations of millions I find impossible to understand and accept; more impossible is that I would join a world that would allow it. Sorry for my humanity, not to be misconstrued for politics, which I hate.

When I’m President, there will be a 110-pound barbell set in every household rec room. World’s crises -- crime, violence, immorality, terrorism and such -- will be obviated as we shortcut their source: lethargy, physical weakness, lack of discipline, absence of compassion, loss of focus, obesity, poor self-image, and vanishing purpose and inspiration.

There’s another wrong gaining notoriety and worth mentioning. Have you not seen, have you not heard? The world at large is becoming large, its individuals, that is. People are getting fatter every day in every way: bottoms, tops, hips, feet, thighs -- the whole body is growing plump. It’s no secret -- been going gangbusters for at least 40 years -- though we still use sensitive words to define the catastrophe: weight challenged, mucho weight challenged, mucho grande weight challenged and so on. It’s killing us steadily and surely, one by one. Worse, it’s the diseases behind the disease that are frightening: apathy, ignorance, chronic gulping, agitated masticating, stuffis mouthosis and whatever.

It goes back to self-centeredness, which you might have suspected is the main warehouse of greed and power and the other human failings we possess in inestimable abundance. Look here: In getting rich and to support the economy the food industry massively advertises their junk foods consisting of sugars, fats and chemicals, addictive by nature, tasty and cheap. Somebody’s making big bucks. We, the 99 percent who are hungry and blind and resemble sheep, eat the food and poor imitations suggested by indoctrination again and again and we eat it a lot. We eat it to entertain ourselves and distract ourselves from the dull pain of reality. We eat it because we desire to please ourselves, our taste buds and appetites, and because we seek swiftness, ease and convenience. We eat in abundance cuz it’s become a habit. In short, we are lazy and dumb.

There, I said it and I mean it. Shoot me. But before you pull the trigger, I love you, dear friend.

Dumb -- lazy, powerless and not thinking -- is an unnecessary condition that is undone in the gym, if one chooses to undo it. Dumb grows like a weed and is about as attractive and useful. Dumb grows out of cracks in the concrete wherever dirt collects. The moment you think of going to a gym and exercising, “dumb’” is put on notice. The moment you enter the gym’s door -- bedroom, basement, World or Bud’s Gym -- and commence exercising, dumb is under attack. Each rep and set, every curl and press, reduces the size and shape of the destructive element. Dumb soon resembles a peanut. Persist, dumb dies and smart is born.

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 -- engaging the body in exhilarating muscular activity, stretching and extending, flexing and contracting, breathing deeply and pumping the heart -- living becomes less resistant, larger and more fulfilling. One aspires when one has discipline and perseverance in one’s 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 one’s 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! There’s more. I don’t know anyone who exercises with integrity who doesn’t improve his eating habits to complement his 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 over eating and unfriendly genetics have them boxed in and at their wit’s end. Double-XL obesity cannot be corrected entirely, but it can be stopped, reversed and managed. Early confrontation will remarkably limit the toll obesity takes on one’s 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 they’re gone, mine, yours, your friend’s, your enemy’s. The idea is to make the most of each day every day, sunrise to sunset, without flogging yourself or others. Light a campfire, but don’t burn down the forest. Take the elevator to the penthouse, but don’t jump from the top to be the first to the bottom. Take the stairs, one step, one day at a time.

If you insist on jumping, bombers, take your chute, practice your emergency procedures and land with aplomb. They’re watching us.

Better yet, fly... with God’s speed.

Dave Draper

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