“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu
It’s late in the day here after a challenging period of my life but I have still gone about my work, my training, and all my other responsibilities even though at times I look back and wonder how I have managed it all, but manage it I have. I don’t claim to be a Superman, but I do believe I know what it takes to achieve things in the face of large odds and that is what I want to talk about today.
“I see dead people” – The Sixth Sense
If you ever saw that film, you’ll know it was about people who lived their lives among the living but who were actually dead but did not know it. I recommend it highly to all movie fans who haven’t seen it. Well, watching that film in the theatre got me thinking about what it would be like to be the living dead only this time instead of being a ghost you’d be a normal person.
The living dead is an apt term as in most horror movies it describes mindless, zombies whose only role in the film seems to be to stumble chaotically across the movie set at a snail’s pace yet still fast enough to catch up to the dumbass lead characters inevitably. These creatures exhibit no intelligence, ability to learn new things, or to do anything meaningful beyond the satiation of their hunger for flesh. If you see one of these guys you better wake up quickly because, as we all know, in our dreams we move about as fast as a fat kid leaves a buffet table.
Do these monsters exist though?
Sad to say, but at least in my life I must see dead people and zombies every day. In fact, the ones I see are even worse than the ones from the movies as at least the movie monsters get shit done, like kill a few people in a way that is exciting enough to get you to raid your piggy bank when a movie like that hits the screens.
By contrast, real life zombies are far worse.
I’m talking about the fat guy in the gym, doing the same mindless routine, with the same weights, wearing the same damn clothes year after year. You know the guy. Don’t tell me there isn’t one of those in your gym. He’s the guy who is always asking about training advice and talks about getting big. The jackass who thinks its okay to interrupt you just before squatting and asking you if you are using some weight plate five metres away front the squat rack. Mindless as I said.
Since I’m on a roll, what about the chump in your office. The guy who works to go out and spend all his money in one weekend and then be skins for another month. The kind of dumbo who then expects his colleagues to fund his lifestyle. I’m sure everyone who works knows of someone like this or someone who thinks that being employed means they can come into work when they like, take sick days, and generally dick about letting a few people pick up the slack. This happens a lot.
The point is that there are people out there who do things that appear to defy logic, common sense, and show a startling lack of courtesy to their fellow man and woman. How did it get to this stage?
A malign influence, returning to our horror movie theme, would be a suitable term for some spirit or entity, emitting an aura of distilled evil that makes us cringe behind the sofa and the characters on the screens transform before our eyes. Think of the evil ghost in The Exorcist and you get the picture.
In the real world where do such influences emanate from?
Someone once told me you can judge a man by his three best friends. Observe the nature or his three best friends and you know the man’s true self. Always remember this when meeting people who seem nice, but who just happen to be best friends with The Yorkshire Ripper and Frederick West. Hmmm, do you think they might not be telling you the full truth? On a more prosaic level, and to finally turn the thrust of this article towards the gym, if your three best friends are always going out drinking and abusing drugs every weekend, isn’t it likely you will find your focus on the gym gradually declining?
They say choose your enemies carefully for they will define you, but the reality is that it is your friends who will define the person you become and how you are perceived by others, so choose them with extreme care. As every horror movie character knows, once you let the demon or vampire into your life, you are screwed.
Believe it or not, this article was originally going to be rather more prosaic and focus on books I feel everyone should read if serious about improving their fitness. Given the tone of the article so far you can imagine what comes next but let’s get the book recommendations out of the way. Here are five books that inspired, taught and elevated my life. They all get my highest recommendation.
Science and Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir Zatsiorsky The Charlie Francis Training System – Charlie Francis Supertraining – Mel Siff and Igor Verkhoshansky The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho The Art of War – Sun Tzu
I remember reading a long time ago that your brain will absorb all knowledge like a sponge so once you lay yourself open to tabloid influences, and trashy tv shows you will be doing damage to yourself greater than you know.
Every negative influence you encounter will slowly permeate into your consciousness until the ideal of a strong body and mind is one which seems impossibly distant.
Surround yourself with people whose sole purpose in life is to exist and to indulge their hedonistic desires, and you will find that you swap a life of passion and purpose for cheap thrills eventually losing your identity and becoming a zombie yourself. Aim for the higher ground in life at all times and a nobler calling and all the other things will come easy.
A final word
The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. Bruce Lee said that. It means to eliminate distractions and focus on the essence of what we do. The truth of the matter is that success is actually easy for many who are successful.
The best bodybuilders absolutely love to train, diet, and read everything they can to do with the sport. It isn’t a hobby. It is who they are! The same applies in every walk of life. Business leaders don’t work for money, they work because it is what they are and helps define them. The truly great leaders throughout history have achieved things because the strength of their convictions brooked no doubt they would succeed. While people can be successful, Darwinian law holds that not everyone can be but it is in your control.
Are you going to be the lion or the ass? You pay your money and you take your choice.
© 2012, Reggie Johal. All rights reserved.