In my early days of sentience, I was never the healthiest eater, with my IV drip of Pepsi and an animalistic lust for Cosmic Brownies, and physical activity was anathema to my very being, my preferred pastimes being video games and television. As you’ve doubtlessly guessed by the sedentary nature of those particular hobbies, my propensity for bitter sarcasm, and my well-known love for Cheetos (TM) *see previous blog on existentialism* I was what you’d probably term a ‘fat kid’, uninterested in sports, going outside, or ever having the opportunity to kiss a pretty lady on the mouth.
Oh, my love…often do I pine for thee, on cliffsides and hillscapes, with sprinkles and cakes. Look at it longingly. And want. Want like I want, audience.
Alarmist talk of an ‘obesity epidemic’ was everywhere and gym teacher after gym teacher did their best to cattle prod me into jogging a little faster with constant “Get moving”‘s and, my favorite, “Speed it up,”‘s truly motivating me to excel in an activity that seemed pointless and that all the kids that made fun of me were good at. I became a world class marathon runner and single-handedly proved the harsh efficiency of negative reinforcement on developing minds in the great public schools of our blessed United States of ‘Murrrrrka. Vote for Trump, or Reagan’s ghost. Winners win. Losers eat dog poo. End of story. Cut to black.
Only being facetious, of course. I’m glad I can look back on it with a sense of humor, but being an out of shape child and constantly mocked for it for years is part of what made me the lovably bitter, sardonic depressive I am today, for better or for worse. But I’m not here to make any sort of indictment against the educational system. Far greater minds than mine have stated their cases in an infinitely more eloquent fashion on the subject.
No, I’m just a humble bro here to discuss why I enjoy bodybuilding.
Here I am now. In case you’re one of the possible folk that stumbled in from parts unknown. Unlikely, but thanks for coming. Feel free to leave a comment below telling me your thoughts on body hair grooming.
Merciless torment in the blasted hellhole that is the life of an introverted, non-sports inclined boy in public school aside, I was never terribly enthralled with the shape that I was in, aware even back then that a change would need to come somehow and somewhere if I didn’t want to die of congestive heart failure at age twenty-three. But the cycle of the overweight depressive is such that the facts did little to cure my horrendous eating, (Mr. Chocolate will make everything better), and lack of physical activity.
That changed somewhat in my high school years. On a whim, impressed by their shiny words and imperious demeanor when surrounded by what I perceived to be an utter lack of professionalism in my classmates, (at age 14, mind you, and, yes, I’ve always been a fun one at parties), I joined the JROTC unit in my high school. Of course, even JROTC units are staffed by squishy mortals, so I found my own problems with how things operated.
But, I did join the team that did all of the physical activities and exercised regularly. Gradually, I went from fizzling out after a quarter mile of running to being able to run two miles at a decent speed. My tepid first steps into fitness.
But, running is not bodybuilding.
So, where did bodybuilding come into the picture? The how and the why.
In 2010, I was in college because everyone had said it was the thing to do if I wasn’t aiming for a lucrative career as a crack whore. I’d gone to university after dropping thirty pounds in late high school through running and was now the thinnest I’d been in my life. The framework for weightlifting was there, but, again, the gym seemed a harrowing place, awash with Ebola and loud, id man-children without the slightest hint of their vast cosmic insignificance. I’d not a clue where to get started even if I was interested in some casual lifting.
Enter, stage right, a friend in college. Fellow male and, more importantly, fellow college student that paid student fees and, therefore, had free access to a gym like me. We both agreed, due to our collective scant lifting experience, to attempt the hobby together as proper accountabilibuddies. It was enough to get me into attempting to lift as a lowly tadpole for the first time in my life.
While I still treasure the wee time I have to fiddle with the odd entertainments here and there, lifting has become a primary hobby of mine, one of the few constants in a life fraught with an above average amount of melodramatic tragedy. There is something profoundly therapeutic in the constant sculpting of the self, the pursuit of a physical ideal that cannot truly exist. It’s a tantalizing ritual, one that has become an indispensable part of my life.
Let’s talk about Buddhism.
Just a little. For the faithful sixerso that may still be reading.
Anicca means, roughly translated, ‘roughly translated’ being an academic way to say that translating a word or phrase from one language to another is an inherently tricky proposition akin to duct taping mismatched Legos together, impermanence. Transience. Trees die. Senescence is a thing whether we choose to think about it on this day or that. The universe itself will, one day, wither and freeze or sink inward or tear itself apart in a frenzy of theoretical vacuum physics. The impermanence of things is, in the Buddhist thought that I find infinitely fascinating, one of three fundamental marks of existence.
Alright. So, what the hell does this have to do with bicep curls?
Real complicated, next level philosophy shit going on here. You can see it in the cold, dead expression.
Who and what I am today doesn’t need to be who I was yesterday. In the same way our very bodies are so flimsy, (Muscle vs. Bullets), and impermanent, so too can we change what we are. We all live in a continuous process of evolution and death, every breath a possible fulcrum upon which to balance a new self. The fact that the bodybuilding physical ideal is unrealistic without industrial-strength HGH and low-grade horse tranquilizers, is precisely what causes me to chase it. It’s a motivating drive, a thought to strive for, a me for tomorrow that keeps me going.
I’ve seen a lot in my twenty-six years, plenty of the worst that growing up in a lower middle class household could offer. Disease, extreme poverty, alcoholism, all laced with the stubborn saccharine of austerity. My parents never thought things would get better. It didn’t leave me with much. Even now, I still feel the reverberations from what was years ago. And that’s only economically.
We’ve only one life to live and I’ve seen so many people throw away the advantages they have or use them to frivolous end.
One of the only things I have is my body. A physical ideal gives me something to work towards. Impermanence informs that. I won’t get another chance. Bodybuilding is my personal rave against anicca, the transience of life in the universe, a push towards the best physical shape that I can be in, because I know people that won’t or can’t, and, more importantly, because it keeps me sane.
Lord knows, it ain’t for the chicks. I’ve been hit on by gay males in a 5-1 ratio to females.
Well, this ended up prattling on a bit randomly, eh? Epically failed on the whole every three days thing as far as timing of the blogs. But, I do plan to get back on that train starting here. Apologies, dear readership, as duty, in the form of not starving, called.
Pleasantest of eves to yeh, lasses and laddies.