No Predicament to Resolve

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Yipes! Another Draper newsletter in my email. I have time to read it? Do I wanna read it? Should I? Maybe I'll come back to it later. What will the subject matter be this time?

Another monthly split routine, achieving winter muscle mass, losing bodyfat in preparation for the spring, overcoming yet another growth plateau... gag. Why can't I just take a pill... have a treatment... hire somebody... or fugitabodit?

I know where ya comin' from, friends. It's been a long day and a long climb and what we thought was a hill has become a mountain. We do have choices. We could quit, bag it, call it a day, pack it in, throw in the towel, see ya, outta here, finito, over, done, gone.

Quite a few choices, come to think of it, but none of them will do as you well know. We're in this like pigs in swill.

In so much as this is a predicament we all share, brothers and sisters in iron, let us be tough and face the facts. It's that upfront spirit that separates us from the ordinary, complacent and idle. Muscle- and power-building are not easy endeavors sought by the faint of heart. Though rudimentary objectives, they are tough to achieve -- maddening is more to the point. Only hard work and perseverance accomplish the deeds.

Now hard work and perseverance are disciplines, purposeful and noble, yet discipline is not the commonest or strongest characteristic observed among the worldwide populace. People by and large deserve outstanding mention for various behaviors (consumption, opposition, impatience, urgency, snoozing, wasting, amassing, borrowing, gambling, arguing, wrecking), but not discipline, not self-control. Discipline is the radiant crown worn by only the few.

Hard work, a jewel in that crown of splendor, could use a little clarification.

This is not the hard work of the 9-to-5 variety: You get up, have a cup and dash off to struggle with a hammer or reports or clients or the desktop and return to the house, cat, take-home and TV. This hard work begins after work, when you enter the gym and collide with the metal, battle the steel and upend the iron. It's barbells and dumbbells, cables and machines and the one-rep-max you dare not miss. Then home, food, rest and sleep.

Not everyone is clear about perseverance, either. Perseverance is not the sacrificial habit of showing up at the gym as usual, towel and water bottle in tow. After scanning the gym floor, a set of dumbbells are set in motion until the user becomes bored or dissatisfied or sleepy or distracted... "Hi, miss... I didn't catch your name... may I join you?"

Perseverance means assertively standing before the racks, bars and plates and engaging them with certainty and unbridled might, again and again, come rain or come shine. The exercises are fundamental and sure, their execution rhythmic and pure. The metal passes from rack to hand, from floor to ceiling, side to side and back and forth with power, focus and form. Like a tattooed longshoremen working his crane, the iron is moved from place to place. No distraction, wasted motion, no race or lost pace. Nothing stops till it stops, and starts again, on time, next time.

Perseverance and hard work: They work.

Can't talk about perseverance without talking about patience, and we can't talk about patience without talking about time. Furthermore, if you're going to talk about time, remember, time is money. Additionally, we'd be wise to recall that musclebuilding is a discipline, both purposeful and noble, and anything purposeful and noble is also valuable, or more clearly, worth money. And all this time you thought you were wasting time. Nope! You were getting rich. That's all I have to say about money.

A moment of truth, bombers: There is no swift way to build muscle and might. No shortcuts, no accelerated methods, no secret passages, no advanced technology, no power-in-a-bottle. Time and patience are the horns of the beast -- the co-conspirators, the twin forces of good and evil -- that we must confront, engage and overcome lest we hang high and twist in the wind.

Time is time, neither a person, place nor thing that can be controlled. Time, a condition, is out of our hands. Conversely, patience, a discipline, can be developed like a muscle. The wise and strong develop both at the same time.

A major problem, the predecessor or offspring of the above, is we either seldom believe or do not believe strongly and for a sufficient length of time that our course of action is the right one. It seems like a good idea early on, but is soon reduced to another guess or reach into space where perfection does not exist.

Doubt and confidence, a hilarious act, join the show, dancing out of step and singing off-key.

Alas, there is no perfect course of action. No perfect anything.

We can only aim and shoot and hope we don't hit ourselves in the foot. Anywhere on the target is close enough. Routines that are worked hard and consistently and diets that are followed regularly are the exact ones.

We fail when we doubt our plans and are tentative in our actions. Our minds and movements are weak, withheld and not forthcoming. Speaking directly and scientifically (as I often do), we fumble, bumble, mumble and crumble.

You know the ropes. You're a bomber. Though you haven't broken the sound barrier, you are flying.

That whooshing sound you hear is the wind beneath your wings. Steady as she goes, Captain. You've assessed yourself and acted responsibly. You've made commitments and kept them. You've listed goals and achieved them. You're en route, on course.

Apply yourself. Trust yourself.

Work intensely and be persistent. This is very good.

Do it with attention, wonder and interest; commitment and devotion and truth.

And, whatever you do, do it with gusto and high hopes. How can you go wrong? You're lifting, you're learning and you're growing in body, mind and spirit. You are consistent, you eat right and you're smart.

Not every day requires an answer or a solution. Sometimes the answers don't come; sometimes there isn't an answer. Sometimes the answer comes later, tomorrow, another time.

Often, more often than we realize, there is no question to answer, no predicament to resolve.



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