Solve The Problem

Recently I was discussing the overarching viewpoint on training and preparation, what is meaningful and what useless. I believe the problem-solving aspect of training ourselves and others is the greatest challenge. And the most meaningful.

Too many people are mired in the "best workout" tar pit. That's an EASY answer, generally. So easy that they ask and reply to the same question over and over again, just playing on variations. They never progress the most necessary training, which is not the physical. I get it though. It must be very satisfying to be right, over and over. It must feel great to "discover" the best workout, for this week or this month. What-fucking-ever.

Why take the easy way? Because the more difficult question requires one to earn knowledge before realizing there is a question to ask at all. It requires self-knowledge to ask, and the willingness to have been wrong in the past, and the intellectual horsepower to tinker with myriad "answers" and the choices that come with those answers. People take the easy way because those choices demand decisions and decisions must be acted upon and actions have consequences that produce more, different questions and choices ... which is a much harder process than just picking shit up and putting it down in a so-called new way, or an "old" way or a recently-discovered-and-supported-by-science way.

Any form of lifting and strengthening is all well and good and much better than simply chasing after comfort, doing nothing at all. But it's still a dead end. A dog chasing its tail. Repetitive. Eventually unproductive. Done out of habit.

The first problem to solve is to break the habit, to shed expectations. Break free of the need to be right or comfortable or to know the thing. I'm wise enough (finally) to know that I don't know. It took 20 or 30 years, starting from the point of having become conscious. I am finally very comfortable with not knowing because I do something about my ignorance. I am liberated by asking the question, without being dependent on an answer. It's just a few simple steps: accept that you do not know, decide that you want to learn, then CARE enough to do so. And it is true of anything: if you do not notice, if you do not care, if you do not ask then you are destined to follow someone else's plan, to abide someone else's expectations. And you won't ever fulfill whatever individual potential you might have within you.

I read an article today about a fellow who looked in the mirror one day and decided he was overweight and sick and living someone else's life. That day he made a change. Over the next year he lost the weight. He got in shape. Fitness fed ambition and he chose a goal. He did an Ironman, then an Ultraman. It was an interesting read but not unusual or unique or impossible. I didn't find it inspiring - I found it normal. However, in the Comments section several people broadcast their own excuses for not having done the same: he doesn't have a job (he does), he doesn't have a family (he does), his life couldn't possibly as complicated as mine (hell, whose isn't complicated these days?), ETC.

This is the amazing aspect of the story: that people willingly accept and perpetuate the prison they built for themselves, and they allow others to reinforce the walls and restrictions of that prison. And then complain that they were meant for something better, if only ... if only they had answered when opportunity knocked, if only they had not agreed to settle for less. Well here is an opportunity one could seize every single day: every habit offers the chance to make a conscious choice, to change. If you can't make a small behavioral change like shaving with your non-dominant hand -- if you can't notice that you always start shaving the same place on you cheek every morning -- well, there's no need to hypothesize whether the "new, different" workout is superior to an "old, routine" workout because you won't do it anyway. You can't break the habit so you can't solve the problem. So get used to the rut.

Especially if that rut masquerades as opportunity.

Mark Twight
Mark Twight