First Things First

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Oh, That I Could be a Tree, Thick Limbed and A’swaying

Dave Draper cover of Man's World 1967

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The winds are blowing up a storm and the redwoods are busy shaking off dead branches and loose foliage. The stately trees maintain their health and form by participating in the rigors of seasonal change and bending to the thrusts and throws of nature. Man is wise to imitate his thick-trunked, heavily limbed friend by following a course of like vigor, verve and vitality.

Be active, be life-responsive, be moved and motivated, good and mighty bomber. Pursue, explore, risk and adventure. Be ye not idle.

I have a new gig. Every day at 2:15 I mount the rigid steel and composite table of the imposing Varian Clinac 2100C Linear Accelerator and assume an exact, predetermined position to receive a dose of radiation. It seems my prostate, the lout, has gone rogue. It has joined the ranks of the common and uninspired mob. It has raised the dark flag of cancer.

No honor, or valor, or respect, or fidelity has the hapless gland tucked away in its murky recess; and after all I did for it. Girls, you’re not missing a thing.

Anywho, I’ve completed 13 of a series of 40 radiation treatments to zap the bugger into submission. No pain, no discomfort, no effort; in less than 15 minutes I’m on my feet and walking out the clinic door.

“Bye-bye, Mr. Draper. Have a nice day. Watch your step,” say the technicians.

“You bet, Suzanne. Thanks, Tommy. See you tomorrow,” I say, adding, “Train hard, eat right, be strong and smile.” I think it’s important to convey a message of commitment, devotion and good cheer under all circumstances.

Success is certain, though I might experience fatigue toward the countdown. Completion is scheduled by early December. The super cool thing is the radiation clinic is on the way to the gym. And who do you think zooms the extra mile to the musclebuilding clinic down the street to zap his everlovin muscles?

The whole thing is part of God’s plan for my life. I mean, how else can you explain these things? Two thousand and ten, here I come. There’s a new man in town.

You know a guy is reaching when he lines up his workout sessions with his radiation treatments and suggests it’s a bold and mighty move.

Whatever!

I skipped my usual Sunday afternoon muscle onslaught -- my favorite -- in exchange for a new M-W-F training routine to conform to the daily oncology visits. I’m a resourceful musclehead, prudent and smart. Kill two birds with one stone, I always say. Better yet, destroy deadly old cells and build healthy news cells in one swell foop.
 
Trouble is, the guilt and withdrawals of having omitted my Sunday workout caused an intense anxiety attack, severe catabolism, light-headedness and shortness of breath. Laree had to rush me to the gym for an emergency superset implant and a general PBN series. I lived, but it was a “very close call,” according to the on-call PI.

I’m not alone with the guilt thing. I’m convinced, along with huge, ripped and powerful muscles, guilt is the entrenched ironhead’s number one motivator. With girls, maybe it’s a tight this and a curvy that (and guys, no doubt), but guilt tops the list.

Unlike the early days when time was a nuisance and growing up took forever -- I wish I was ten, I wish I was a teenager, I wish I was 21 -- we now view time as  a swiftly fleeting resource, a poorly managed stock, a precious thing we squandered, a life-giving element we failed to save. Skipping a workout is like tossing your spare change into the street or wishing away Mondays because they’re irritable. Or flushing the toilet with nothing in it.

I mean, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

In the words of Rambo, “Toss not a day aside in vain reach for another. Too precious are they, those brief periods of time, to be dithered slightly.”

Do not waste time, make the most of every opportunity, a day lost is a day later. Skip a workout and the muscles shrink and fat grows and power goes and there’s no time to recall it. You flaked. You’re doomed.

Yeah, we get over it, but it takes, like, forever.

We are snuggling up to those crisp months adorned with the merry winter holidays. You remember: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years... and the day Rudolf was born. If you don’t, turn on your TV -- you’ll be reminded momentarily.

Turkeys, Santas, jingling bells, Jack Daniels and resolutions. Time to break out the good cheer and the credit cards, moms, dads and kids.

Gifts, shopping and too much spending; malls, traffic jams and too much hustle; parties, booze and too much food. People everywhere...

Oops! Did I say something wrong, bring up a bad subject? Right! Back to the remnants of October and the soft lingering fall: Great time to bulk up... or lean down, for that matter... or just maintain your admirable fitness, attractive shape, bright face and optimistic attitude. Life’s good.

Time to toss the iron!

Let’s face it. I haven’t tossed the iron since it became heavy a couple of years ago. Isn’t it funny how serious life becomes when the weights get heavy? Note the solemnity, the sarcasm and the resentment of my tone. Life sucks; the weights are heavy.

Not. It gets better. Each of what appears to be an enemy, a detriment and a flaw is a partner, an instructor, a tender of careful development. What teaches more about persistence and ingenuity than an obstacle? What unfolds more concentration than pain? Humility increases as injuries mount. Arrogance is shattered and patience is established as success delays its brilliant emergence.

Press on, as they say... Godspeed... Dave Draper... The Jet Stream

 

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