Here's Where Some of Us Go Wrong


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Perfection exists, but not in mankind. Men, women and children are miracles, but, alas, they are not perfect. Perfection happens, dear friends, but it is not by our doing. I hear a songbird outside my window and her sounds are incredibly clear and true, her repertoire a majestic spontaneous score without affect or fault. She perfectly sings her perfect song. A flower opens its pedals in unseen and silent splendor; its fragrance spreads with the light of the early morning sun, no one to influence its perfect being. Perfection is supernatural.

A thing aware of itself cannot achieve perfection. If nothing else, pride precludes it from gaining the flawless state. Perfection is not for us.

Achieving perfection is a troublesome mission, a paradox, a futility and a lost cause. None of us will ever know the grinning rogue dressed in fine lamb's wool, and in the wake of the undertaking we only become intimate with who and what we are not.

Now that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for the faultless excellence, while settling for extraordinary or stupendous, amazing or the basic "fantastic" instead. We simply keep things in perspective, accept reality, exercise humility and behead the monsters of greed, power and self-centeredness.

About the quest -- seeking perfection -- there are pros and cons. Some say of the ambitious venture that it disables, stresses, discourages, depresses and defeats. The insatiable hunt interferes with a happy life. I can hear you now, “Oh boy, this is for me; misery is right up my alley. Any promise of diarrhea or severe skin rash?”

We try so hard to improve that we wear ourselves out. Nothing we do is enough. Our mistakes are more evident to us than our successes and we experience limp-shouldered self-doubt and dark-countenance insecurity. Achievement becomes obsessive and activities not directly related to the ever-retreating cause seem trivial, wasteful and irresponsible. We can't sleep. Time off, entertainment and relaxation are off-limits -- we can't bear the guilt (or is it the fear?) of letting up.

It becomes evident that perfection and the act of pursuing it are obtuse. They paralyze. Rather than approach the darling quality, the distance increases. The frustration is numbing.

Proponents of the grind see it as a heady lifestyle, challenge-concentrated and energizing. They are a merrily driven mob that takes two steps forward, trips on its backside, bounces and thinks it's fun. They get up. They get ahead. Seeking perfection does that for the resilient, non-introspective flesh beaters. Try this and if it doesn't work, try that and if that doesn't work, try something else. Exactly, precisely, absolutely, right on and totally awesome are the colors of their rainbow, at the end of which is perfection.

And where do we fit in, cool musclemakers and weightlifters that we are, strugglers and challengers, seekers and strivers and protein-consuming flesh beaters? We track the beast, have no thought of capturing it and are content. We push, press and relax. Hit a set, miss a rep and grow. Ache, fight and persist. When hungry, we consume large portions of protein, no sugar and a little cream... and it's back to the venture with passion.

To bolt on muscle, shear off fat and charge the body with power, we must have our heads screwed on right. Try too hard and expect too much and the adventure is short-lived. Should we set goals that are too ambitious and far beyond our reach, we will flail as we fail. Our ambition is removed and our reach is shortened. Exercise, should it survive, becomes a perfunctory procedure at best to keep the buzzards off our backs.

Nuts to the birds. Grasp each day and every workout as if it were your first and last -- attitude leads the way and you are getting close, very close. You don't find perfection, but you unearth the gold-hinged hope chest in which it is contained. It's all there within the workout, the exercise, the movement, the action.

The gym, your training site, is (or should be) your refuge, a place of encouragement and fulfillment. The gym is where you go to find release, to call out your name at the top of your lungs, to wag your tail, to lick your wounds, to make things happen or to withdraw into your quiet and peaceful turtle shell. Physical pain quenches the emotional pain; physical movement, flowing and steady, eliminates disorder and restores balance.

Here's where some of us go wrong: We count the sets, we count the reps, we count the days, hours and seconds. We count calories and grams of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We weigh ourselves and take measurements. We stare in the mirror, assess and criticize and wonder. We read, seek advice, listen and compare notes. We become impatient, disappointed and doubtful. We despair. Why does it take so long... been six weeks... is anything happening?

In a very real sense we find ourselves obsessing over perfection, or rather that version of the enchantment we have created for ourselves: The 400-pound bench and 18-inch arms or small waist and cellulite-free legs. They are representative of inspiring goals, but become agents of impossible perfection in the translation and acquisition.

Seek perfection if you must, yet welcome its warm-hearted kin: daily progress, forward motion, sufficient advancement and considerable improvement.

Perfection may be dreamed of, hoped for, reached for and sought after. It can be imagined, imitated, pretended, poorly masqueraded and foolishly impersonated. It cannot be acquired. Knock yourself out.

The closest thing to perfection for you and me is soaring freely, flying high with no limits and a three-point landing after another successful training mission.

Perfection is divine.

God's speed, bombers... DD


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