First Things First

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We Can Control It


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I was out in the field patching up the old bomber the other day when it occurred to me some of you are only 20-something and to you, age -- the number of years you've gathered while here on earth -- is incidental. Your birthday rolls around (once a year, as you recall) and you might fuss over a special dinner and a few cute cards, some gifts if you have those family traditions, and then it goes away. If asked, you remember a twinge of change when you turned 18 (I'm legal) and a feeling of melancholy at 20 when you bravely left the teens behind. But as you slip and slide in those busy, invincible and seemingly unending 20s, collecting years is no more on your mind than collecting string.

Yeah, well, live it up. Thirty will probably get your attention (who am I, where am I goin' and why ain't I there yet?). And the Big Four-O is always good for a few phony laughs and some restless days -- nights, weeks, months and years (where did my life go?).

Not everyone embraces the 40s with open arms (they hide under the bed usually) and those truly wonderful years can cause a good man or woman to do some really strange things. They often dress funny, wear gold chains over tanned chests and accentuate the makeup; they color their hair, transplant it like the potted plants on the front porch, throw an accenting toupee over it like a politician or shave it off like a Sultan. The lonely adopt a golden retriever or a four-pound terrier or chase the opposite sex; there's the two-seater sports car, the nip n' tuck, the consuming introspection and, not infrequently, the bottle nestled in the bottom of the laundry basket.

Of all our pathetic blunders, the strangest and most disturbing is losing those priceless years while trying to save them. There's a problem, but we don't know what it is. We misunderstand it, attempt to hide it from view or chase it away. We need not resist the passing of time, as if life was slipping by and we were diminishing. That is to support the misperception of aging, to feed it, to fear it and become its victim. Big mistake, like allowing a spoiled brat to rule us by kicking and screaming to get its way.

Discipline the brat.

We see ourselves as having reached our peak after too many years of worry, sacrifice, poor choices and bad food. We further burden ourselves with fear, doubt and anxiety. It's the wrinkles, sagging skin, flaccid biceps, abounding midsection, achy back, wobbly legs and chins, plural.

Youth gone by, if only I knew then what I know now. It's true what they say: Youth is wasted on the young. Phooey.

Instead, we need to recognize the willing and able companion we are, the friend who deserves our love and encouragement and support. You're not old; I'm not old; George Washington is old. He's the father -- we're just kids in a body that needs our help. Get back to the gym with purpose and zeal, eat right, for cryin' out loud, and the youth that left will return. To outsiders I say, start exercising, today, and discover real discipline and fulfillment. Get rid of the sugar and eat protein, and give your beloved body something to feed on and live for. Stop grumbling and chasing your illusive midlife daydreams. Grasp authentic strength, health and action with willing hands. Stand up. Be strong.

Shift gears.

Things don't go from bad to worse. They go from better than you think to terrific. The years of your life add up, yes, but you add years to your life. Youth isn't wasted on the young, nor are the 40s and 50s wasted on you. You're in control at the prime of your life with all you need to know. Fix what's broke and soup up what's workin' good. Zoom zoom. We got places to go and things to do.

I have a special affection for those middle years, 40 to 50, because I beat the 30s, that season of princes and princesses, repeatedly with a blunt object and was reborn in the 10 years that followed. I was 42 to be exact, when I got to my feet, dusted myself off, surveyed the burned-out territory in which I stood and commenced the act of walking forward, one step at a time.

Get to the point, please, oh sorrowful fallen victim.

The 40s are really good for that sort of thing, making magnificent strides over peaks, plateaus and beast-ridden countryside. The 50s work very well also, but you've got to be, like Jack, nimble and quick, alert and ready. While I'm at it, the 60s, it seems, takes a nickel from one pocket and put a dime in the other. You don't know whether to say, hey, hands off or thank you, thank you, thank you, uncle time.

During the early years when we were growing up we ate what we ate 'cuz it was there and did what we did 'cuz we were told. Later, as we got older, we imitated our surroundings, what we viewed on TV and saw in the media. For most of us, none of it was ever really good or bad. It was sufficient.

Today, with the passing of time, the good has diminished and the bad has increased. We eat like horses and act like hogs; we do what is easy, what is a habit or what little we can. And we know it: We're not doing anything about it and it doesn't have to be that way.

We can control it.

I trained for a long time, more or less on the pursuit of muscles and strength since I was a kid. Even when I was messin' up, I was training and eating tuna. Talk about a dizzy dude. The last 35 years have been as straight as an arrow and I've been attentive to life around me, the days gone by and the days ahead. How to keep the stone rolling and free of moss became my hobby. Keeping you periodically informed of my observations helps me observe.

Remember, dear reader, whose eyes are yet to require magnifying glasses to read this newsletter, this stuff's for all ages and conditions, breeds, makes and models. Listen and learn, or not.

Train for muscle and power, health, fun, expression, stress repression and because, once bitten, we must. When you train for maximum response, that is, muscle growth, definition, density, strength and intensity in performance, train with ultimate focus and concentration.

Don't let your attention veer from the work before you. To the extent that it does, the work is compromised. The physical and the mental and the emotional become entwined, tightly strung. You will love your training the most when it is at that level. Only then is it really training.

Other times, it is play.

Bombers, you're a grand team. Fly high and go with God.



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