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‘What gives value to a diamond is its cost, to virtue, its difficulty, to penance, its suffering; to medicines their bitter taste.’Michel De Montaigne
Recently, I wrote this on twitter: ‘Don’t let your insufficient self undermine who you could be.’ I had that thought as I was closing a heavy set at the gym. Immediately, I thought ‘There’s no way I can let this (thought) slip’ as I briskly went ahead and wrote it down. Luckily, it didn’t, and I’m glad as it encouraged this piece.
Oddly, it appeared especially significant at that point in time. When you’re struggling with weight, rigidly putting your vital force in it, you get a rather meditative flow of thought that drifts candidly and involuntarily. In fact, any time I do any tough training, my mind tends to naturally engender creative thoughts; some are more interesting than others, of course.
Nonetheless, it is always somewhat beguiling to me how remedial this rivalry comes to be – it injects every struggle with impassioned fire, agony, and a fierce sense of commitment.
Direction and Intent
Where passion is concerned, weightlifting has always served me as a way to discharge and release. It realigns you with your immanent strength and purifies your masculine spirit. And, I find it rather incongruous how of all good things lead by proper lifting, most men find the upgrade in appearance the most likeable reward. But I shall digress with this judgement; if you look below the surface, you would find that the most worthwhile reward is the continuous refinement of your manly nature. Rigorous training not only expands your strengths, it uncovers your defects, giving you the right occasion to mend them to your benefit. Traits such as discipline, diligence, persistence, and constancy are highlighted in the weightroom; they are tested and fortified by struggle.
Most men I see at the gym are strayed, they lack direction and understanding; both of what they are doing and why they are doing it. It appears like they made it there fortuitously and not deliberately. It is not so useful for me to pressure you to hit the gym when your frame of mind is radically messy and you are merely adhering by obligation, not purpose. If you don’t have an objective, your plan is ill-defined and undecided. You must specifically define your incentive, with an evident purpose, direction and plan of action. If you don’t know the necessary what’s and why’s, what merit do you pick out from it? Hardly anything effective.
Man ought to know why something is good for him and how to apply himself appropriately for a certain practice; you should not feel compelled to get a membership simply to abide by convention, this is fruitless and silly. If your necessity is ignorant obedience, you are not training for yourself but for others who are just as blind. You may think compliance is fruitful for a little while, but it quickly fades away by fickleness and instability – when there’s no heartfelt intent and a firm purpose, constancy is transient and idleness an irresistible impulse. In truth, it is genuine intent that holds you liable, fueling your needfulness and driving you to carry out your duties.
Competence and Persistent Practice
In the absence of intent, man starts to wander aimlessly with no explicit point of focus. Part of having an unmistakable course is good knowledge and a sound method that is useful and practical. But the larger part of men who undertake strength training lack will and purpose, hardly moving forward. I would go so far to say it is better to have intent yet lack understanding, if you can’t have both, rather than vice versa. Intent without understanding will make progress, acquiring knowledge from failure, but understanding without intent will faintly make strides; it will be held back by inertia, unsureness, doubt, and lack of discipline. On the other hand, intent is persistent, devoted, firm and reliable.
‘A man’s worth and reputation lie in the mind and in the will: his true honour is found there.’Michel De Montaigne
Consequently, it will discover what is useful and good by way of experience through sheer resolve, interest, ability and competence. Intent is an essential fragment of competence. In truth, the man who ardently desires something beneficial with great determination will meet it. What separates the doers is their competence, they practice more than they preach; this is their gift. There are natures who confront battle with real vigour, their insistence pushing them to endure a course of action with laudable stability until they meet their desired aims. So on the one hand, there are natures who have been endowed with a far-reaching potential for tenacity, and on the other, there are natures who have cultivated these traits by industrious application and strict practice.
Whether by fortune or fight, there is no conceivable way to cheat hard-earned goodness. Remember, man is made by hardship, the road is onerous for good reason; no weak man merits the prosperity earned by diligence and strength. The consequence of pursuing meaning is that its indispensable privation incites self-discovery, naturally leading to a process of honing details that were laid asleep or have been mistreated by debility. You come to deeply grasp your inner workings, you come to know distress demands and what self-discipline entails. When this resourceful state is sustained, it engenders a profound and enduring transformation in your psyche that can’t be stolen from you. What you gained from battle leaves a lasting mark on your soul; it fosters prosperity and endeavours to defy boundaries.
Transforming Pain Into Purpose
Men solve problems, they are disposed to order and discipline. Thus, when you stray from your strong inclinations, you are subverting your nature and pushing away merit. Pain, failure, rejection: these you don’t find so agreeable, but their intrinsic value springs from their bitterness. If you can learn to repeatedly put up with and accept them, they will teach you something valuable. In fact, you will notice they are not as sharp as you imagined and they are certainly not bad by nature. But you have grown accustomed to labelling things – labels that seldom fit the frame of reality. It is not unnatural, then, to suffer and endure, for you are inescapably invited to deal with these things when they come, so with failure and tragedy.
Whether you resolve to turn down tragedy is not pertinent, you will still cope with its sharp consequences, as existence engenders its own misfortune when it so desires and you ought to learn to courageously bear it when it comes – be a valiant warrior, unphased by life’s calamities. Remember: there are incidents in life that you can’t in any way determine. Remain unmoved by things outside your control, not carelessly but perceptively. Caution yourself against allowing externals to rule over you and engulf your sense of reality. Emotional mastery is one of the most exacting practices. When passion builds intensity, it grows heavier to bear and requires an increasingly firm nature. Still, one of the most compelling means to fortify your temper is to be confronted with a tragedy.
‘Each man’s morals shape his destiny.’Erasmus
We engage in the most rigorous self-analysis in the face of terrible misfortune. It aids you in scrutinizing your life more earnestly and with greater zeal. It is at this point that you reach a pivotal breaking point that incites rapid improvement, as you are altogether bullied into rectifying things: not tomorrow, not in an hour, but right this very moment with the utmost gravity and tenacity. Take, for instance, an awful heartbreak, one that leaves you crushed in pain. You can’t imagine yourself engaging in commitment ever again, as you see the world crumbling under your feet with nothing left to lose and one shocking heartbreak.
But similarly, it is through severe trauma that you interrupt your debility and inspire transformation as you discover, if you’re not so ignorant, what you did poorly and where your deficiencies lie. Man learns to tighten his screws when his weakness proves to be futile in the face of misfortune. Discernibly, I can’t speak for every man, but if you carry a reasonable capacity for introspection, you will almost always find yourself at least a little stronger after a tragedy big or small.
Undoubtedly, there have been innumerable incidents where man was faced with grave tragedy and by its effect managed to radically transform his situation both inwardly and outwardly. In my experience, this is the sweetest glory of all and the most commendable. Lastly, you never know what will be the result of neither tragedy nor good fortune. It is obstructive to dare say fortune is antagonistic. Consider instead why that estimation is likely erroneous and how, above all, it is distinctly agreeable, not detrimental to your purpose.