Balance

Balance

Dec 30, 2012

Balance

By Josh Hunt

If you shut your eyes and try to reimage and redesign yourself, what would you change? There are an almost infinite number of things that one can try to do in order to create a better self; because at the core of it all, we are all flawed and in need of improvement (unless you can honestly say you’d change nothing about yourself; in which case, I would love to meet you because I have never met a flawless person). When I shut my eyes, I think about how I can be more physically fit (especially in the vein of powerlifting), more spiritual, be better dressed, be a better employee, be more selfless and charitable, advance my financial savvy, improve my diet, increase my mental capacity; the list goes on and on and on. As an example; I tell myself that I am going to better read, but sadly I make jokes referencing Dostoyevsky, but I have never read Crime and Punishment nor any of his other works (yes, this is the type of pseudo-intellectual hypocrite I am). I spend a great deal of time reflecting upon the person that I want to be; however, l I don’t spend enough time actually engaging upon the ideas that I have.

I believe this is the case for most of us, because this lack of action is part of the human condition that plagues us all. We all want to be perfect; you know have a quick wit, look amazing naked, be the cool and funny guy (or gal) in the room, have sufficient sympathy and enough empathy in order to connect with anyone, and so forth. After long periods of introspection I have come to the conclusion that this archetype that I want to be is always changing and therefore, for all intents and purposes can’t be achieved. This being said, I believe that we shouldn’t stop trying to be that dream person. We should in fact work our asses off to get as close as possible to that imaginary character and realize that our current idea of the apex human we want to be today, will be a different idea in the future (for example I don’t have children, but if I do I will want to be the best father I can be, but this is not something I need to concern myself with yet). The corner stone of the road that leads to this unattainable yet extremely desirable goal is the simple, yet complex, idea of balance.

What I mean by this is; we can’t be everything we want to be, nor can we be what everyone else tells us to be. When it comes down it there are a few rules that we all are forced to live by. One of which is; who we are is a combination of genetics, environment, and the sum of our experiences, and one day it will all end. Two, there are only twenty-four hours in a day. Of course there are other mortal rules that we can’t escape, but let’s not get onto that tangent.

I will first start to dissect the latter rule. No matter what, there are only 1440 minutes in a day. Most of us have to spend time at work, some of us work longer hours than other, and we all need time to tend to everyday occurrences like eating, cleaning ourselves, and traveling to and from work and places we need to be. If one is in a relationship, time has to be dedicated to that special person or suffer the fate of losing an important part of our lives. Additionally, time has to be spent maintain friendships, no one can do it alone, and without a support network of people we care about we are essentially nothing. If we have children, it is paramount that quality time is spent with them. Then of course we all need to deal with the sister of Death, Sleep (for those that are not comic book fans this is an allusion to Neil Gaiman’s glorious work Sandman, totally worth the time to check out). Sleep is an interesting subject because it is time that we have to take from our precious 1440 minutes during which we can’t be productive, yet it is something that most of us don’t get enough of. Speaking in generalities, the majority of us spend somewhere between sixteen and twenty hours dealing with the everyday drudgery that is the ‘modern life’: work, sleep, and other endeavors. This leaves just a fraction of our allotted time that we can actually use to do something to create a better version of ourselves. This being the case, our ‘free time’ is one of the scarcest and most valuable assets that we have, and thus we shouldn’t squander it.

Not to sound like a hippy, because I hate those patchouli oil wearing, crap music listening, filthy individuals that don’t want to be a part of productive society; but everything is interconnected. If I have a bad day at work, I am stressed out. In many cases I carry this stress to the gym, and find myself weaker than I should be. This leads to poor work outs, which leads to poor competitions, which leads to me being a sullen jerk to my friends, which leads to difficulties in my personal life, which leads to a bad attitude at work, and more bad workdays. The cycle is set on repeat like a soccer mom’s shitty party playlist; you know the type with that damn Goyte song, Aerosmith, Maroon 5, and Nickelback (just thinking about these craptacular bands, is going to force me listen to a mix of Thorns, Agalloch, Woods of Ypers, Emmure, and Type O Negative to get my head straight). On top of this possible (and often probable) vicious cycle are all the other things I need to do in life; clean my house, run errands, do favors, cook, etc. If I am not careful I spend so much time doing other things my life gets way out of sync and way out of balance.

My objective is to identify what I need and want to do, and put forth the correct amount of time and effort in order to achieve my goals. One of my biggest focuses in life is to become a 500 plus pound bencher (impressive I know, but please keep the snickering down, everyone has to start somewhere). In order to do this I need to know that I can only give so much of myself to things outside the gym. I can only give so much of myself to my job, I can only give a portion of myself to what I want to do and have to do around the house, and I have to budget my time and effort in all other facets of my life (I find that I get wrapped up in projects and neglect other aspects of my life). At the end of the day for me to become the bencher that I want to be I have to devote more time and effort to the gym and compartmentalize other aspects of my life. With this realization I have to optimize my time as a lifter. I can’t go full bore at everything I do, because I’ll burn out, I have to ration my time and effort accordingly. Remember you can only give 100% of yourself. Not only do we have to consider the fact that work and life take its fair share of that 100%, we are constrained by our 1440 minutes. Essentially we are fighting the two headed monster day and night and losing every time we go to sleep, but must be prepared for battle when we roll out of bed.

The blade cuts both ways though. If I focus too much on the physical goals I have set for myself I will start walking down the path to becoming a person who isn’t quite what I have imagined I want to be. As I mentioned before I want to increase my mental capacity. I am not going to do this if I spend all my free time at the gym. In some cases I will, but it will only be knowledge of training and not that of a better understanding of those artists that inspire me, or the ability to comprehend the works of Nietzsche, or knowledge of how to become handier around the house. Additionally, if I spend too much time or focus on my training the quality of my life will be affected. I don’t want to skip an awesome show (for those of you who don’t speak ‘scene’ a show is a small concert i.e. I’m going to the Faceless show) that hits the area just because I needed to do a third or fourth auxiliary work out. I don’t want to miss spending time with my friends because I feel that I need to go to the gym on an off day to work on increasing the size of my biceps to fit the bench shirt better. Sometimes an additional rep or set will actually hurt us, ever hit a good test weight then gotten cocky and put too much weight on the bar, and get crushed? Rest and relaxation is underappreciated in the sport of powerlifting. Sometimes taking time off will result in a stronger weight lifter. In these cases the goal has to be clear, and proper balanced steps must be taken. There is the possibility that at some point the law of diminishing returns catches up and I will over train and be negatively affected. By not experiencing or doing some of these things outside of physical training, I will be inhibiting other portions of my energy; which, could end up having a negative effect on the outcome of my physical goals (damn this interconnectivity!). Sometimes one has to focus on non-primary tasks in order to improve the way forward on completing a primary objective (just because a shirt needs to be pressed doesn’t mean it is clean). There is also a possibility that by not shaping myself holistically I will fail at my physical fitness ambition. A home needs a foundation, frame, roof, walls, paint and character, without one of these pieces it is just a structure.

Touching on the former rule (you know the one about the summation of your experiences, you might have forgot because I have droned on so long). We can’t really change our genetics, they are the presents that our mothers and fathers have given to use. We can’t change our past environments, we can only remember what they were and identify what made us strong and replicate that and what made us weaker and try to cut that out of our lives (although sometime it is necessary to revisit the negative because I have found truly interesting people have usually been forged through some sort of turmoil. Bruce Wayne wouldn’t be Batman if his folks weren’t slain). We can mold our current environment to be the best possible for us and/or our families and only try to control our future environment and hope it is better than the one we are living in now (things can always better, but conversely they can always be worse). This leads to the sum of our experiences. The ones in the past have shaped us into who we are today. The possibilities of our future experiences will make us who we are tomorrow. To me this means we should take every opportunity we have to live life. In my travels I try to do as much as I can, I eat the local food, drink the local drink, and say yes to different experiences. These new stimuli will help us redefine and reassess who we are as people. Don’t say no because it is different, say yes because you’ve never done it (as a disclaimer, one should not do anything that violates their own moral code). Coming back to the concept of balance; as humans we need to maintain our spiritual, mental, emotional, social, and physical sides. Don’t focus on one and neglect the other. If that happens one cannot be well rounded, in fact it is an unhealthy and uninteresting place to be. We should challenge each facet of ourselves in order to create an improved whole person. I’d rather be an interesting balanced person with a multitude of experiences when I die (I want to have some depth and complexity), than be just the smartest or the strongest person in the world (not that I am in the running for either I am just trying to drive the point home, please bare with my hyperbole).

Balance is key. If we have only one focus we can try to take huge step to achieve what it is we want. But, fortunately or unfortunately most of us have several goals and focuses. That means we have to take small steps on each of those paths. This is not a sprint, it’s not even a marathon, it’s a journey and the desired destination is our future hopefully as close to perfect self. We also have to be cognizant of those goals that are diametrically opposed because by trying to move forward with both at the same time we stagnate. Our goals should be in parallel. We can’t choose to pay too much attention to one thing and ignore other things. A good example of this is trying to lose weight while getting stronger. In most cases it is either one or the other, the bottom line is most of the time if we lose weight we get weaker. In the end think about who it is you want to be. Identify how to get there, and unlike my current self, take more action (I am trying). But please remember to do this is like walking on a tight rope, it’s easy to fall, so balance must be something in the forefront of your mind.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of my diatribe. I have much more to say about this subject, but reading Swamp Thing and cleaning up old WWE Raws from my DVR now a seems more enticing than writing more and pretending I have more depth than I do.

-I’ve got a handle on the fiction. I’m losing my grip cause I’m losing my fingers. Glassjaw

Josh Hunt a California native has been involved in several sports at the
organized, intramural, high school, collegiate, national, and international
levels.  He began weight lifting at fourteen for football and has continued
in the sport into the present.  He currently is a resident of the Metro East
St. Louis suburbs and has been competing in the USAPL since 2009.  He trains
at the Belleville Weightlifting Club, lifting in full power lifting meets
and bench press meets, raw, and geared.  He is an avid traveler and food
enthusiast.

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2 comments

  1. Nice read Josh! Very deep brother. Reminds us to look deep into ourselves and determine who and what we are with who and what we want to be. Thanks man.

  2. Jesse Waletich /

    Josh,
    This type of holistic knowledge about ones and physical and emotional place in this world is rare. Not many people know who they are and where they are going and your theories on what makes an individual balanced are succinct and true. Thank you for enlightening me.

    P.S. This should go viral!

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