In order to better address the needs of our fitness-obsessed readers, we are introducing this semi-regular column, "I of the Tiger," to take on the vital hardcore fitness issues of our time. Today: you are what you do. Dig it.
You may be young, or you may be old. You may be weak, or you may be strong. You may have been born with nothing, or you may have had everything in life handed to you. But when you lift that weight, you lift that weight. And neither god nor man can take that away from you.
Some Zen master shit happening in here bro.
Why do society's poorest and most powerless traditionally excel at competitive athletics? Why do society's richest and most powerful invest so much effort in personal training and ostentatious physical feats? I have a theory which is correct: because the physical realm is one in which everything you get is absolutely earned by your own hard work. You can buy all the "Lululemon" pants and expensive shoes and designer steroids in the world, but that won't make you strong. You have to fucking work for that shit. Son. Likewise, you can be from society's most neglected and discriminated-against socioeconomic stratum, but when you step in a boxing ring, it's you and two hands, just like the other dude. If he's richer and more powerful than you, it doesn't mean that he gets an extra hand. It's just more incentive to whoop his ass.
You didn't earn your education. You didn't earn your job. You didn't earn your looks. You didn't earn your money, or your popularity. Sure, hard work may have played a role, but not nearly as big a role as nature, nurture, and luck. You can't really take credit for that stuff. Not really. Not if you're honest. To feel a true, honest sense of accomplishment—one that you earned and fully deserve—you have to do something hard. That no one helped you with. That you paid for in pain.
You have to do something so hard, in fact, that you can't do it—not today. But with work, and effort, and the sweat dripping off your own lattisimus dorsi, you will be able to, one day. And when that day comes, you will know a priceless feeling of validation that will allow you to hold your head high and say, "Hey Becky, you were so cool and pretty you would never go out with me in high school, because I was a dork, but look at me now, can your husband do what I just did? No, he's just some golf executive or something, in a supergay golf shirt that's not even suited to serious physical training."
The baby pictures you put on Facebook are ugly, Becky. I'm sorry to be so bracingly honest.
Pick up 400 pounds off the ground. That's an accomplishment. Finish a marathon. That's an accomplishment. (Stupid one. But still.) Fight in a fair fight. That's an accomplishment. Super Squat new personal record poundage! Now that's an accomplishment! (Most hardcore.) What do all of these accomplishments have in common? They weren't handed to you on a silver platter by your mama's teat with a side of her widdle baby's favorite cookie-wookies. They were paid for in full by calluses ripped off your hands which were the same calluses you got working toward the goal because the price of all good things is pain.
It's fair to say to yourself, sometimes: what is the point of all this? ("This"= fitness or whatever this column is about, I don't know, you're the one reading it, now who's the sucker?) It is not just about "feeling good" or "looking great" or other bullshit ass slogans that they put on the cover of Shape magazine, a magazine which, unless I've been misinformed, has not had a single feature on bleeding calluses in the past year. It is about fulfillment. It is about obtaining a satisfying sense of accomplishment which cannot be purchased for all of the money in the whole wide world. It can only be obtained by paying for it with your own effort. And when you get it, it is yours forever.
The hardcoreness achieved in One Moment in Time provides a lifetime of The Wind Beneath My Wings.