“No Better Way To Fight Weakness…”

Hope you’re having a great one today.

I ran across this today and it made me pause – it was
kind of similar to how I got into strength training – it
was a personal challenge.

I don’t agree with everything in here, but it certainly
resonates with me on many levels – I think it will for
you too.

Read it and see what you think…

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“The Iron,” by Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention.
To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends.
To be yourself.

Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was
a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of
my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage
can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And
the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened
and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was
skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t
run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was
there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I
was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled
my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I
fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was
crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted
to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of
knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between
classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only
talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are
to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a
guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat
him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But
even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me a hard time.
I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built
Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn
in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground
and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad
shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked
out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take
some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of
weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I
would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that
I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never
really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but
I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at
me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He
said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going
to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the
hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would
know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at
myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the
gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I
ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that
night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot
and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students
didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding
new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing.
I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out
of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest.
I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got
home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body,
not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps
bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can
remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one
could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have
learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that
I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was
wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the
kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the
ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron
talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that
which you will come to resemble. That which you work against
will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working
out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good
comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish
a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When
something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me:
pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when
dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain
correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I
once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t
ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier
than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron
will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have
self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed
contempt passesitself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself
by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself.
When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity
exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards
for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through
character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off
strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness
and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both
physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind.
And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance
if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming
passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some
of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I
was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when
the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a
fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love
I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very
often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the
loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the
lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re
made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better
teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of
driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these
days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have
become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their
suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep,
they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild;
they become motivated by that which will eventually give them
a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and
the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body
is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away
from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick
depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is
no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the
mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s
impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all
kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron
will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference
point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon
in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend.
It never freaks out on me, never runs.

Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two
hundred pounds.”
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Definitely some gold in there…

Have a great rest of the day.

Talk soon.

Geoff

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