A thing that I have struggled with on and off throughout my life has been related to body issues - to a degree. In my youth: middle school and high school aged I was pretty heavily into sports, mostly cross-country, track, and basketball and I worked out a lot. My basketball coach asked me to join cross-country to stay in shape for basketball and cross-country ended up being what I most excelled at, for a while. I was always active. Although, I had such a high metabolism that I could not gain weight, and struggled to build muscle and then for years, after high school, I stopped putting effort in. Eventually I would try to get back into running and then every year I would, unintentionally form new habits; I seemed to be living a completely different life towards the end of a year than I was at the beginning, and I would have to start over again to reform the habit. This was pretty consistently the case through my early to mid twenties, and during that time I moved between Idaho, Utah, New York, and New Mexico and I lived and experienced, probably, the equivalent of what an average person would live and experience through their fifties.
That’s not exactly what this column is going to be about, though.
Living in New Mexico was probably, both the darkest and most enlightening period of my life; I developed a lot of who I had always wanted, and sometimes already—in a sort of an idealistically way—saw myself as, as well as lost a great deal of myself, of which it took years and years to realize, only that I would never get back a lot of who I had lost. Once I did finally realize this I was able to, again work on building and developing that self image that I had both always wanted and, in some ways, always saw myself as.
I put a great deal of effort into disciplining myself, and practically—and actively—applying that discipline to my life.
The foundation of which was always in building, and maintaining my body, my mind, and my emotions. Roman and Greek philosophers understood that without balance we could never be whole in our humanity, and therefore never truly experience the human condition: what it means to be human; therefore apply the test to whatever, exactly comes next.
One cannot understand the mind without maintaining a healthy, and fit body inasmuch as one cannot consciously acknowledge emotion without a sound, and reasonable mind, and in view of the fact that without acknowledging emotion as well as an open and sound mind one cannot discipline themselves to frame and manage the body; without the balance of the three it’s impossible to truly accept and to understand and to enjoy our present condition.
I grew up being asked to develop my mind, and simultaneously, through incidental spiritual development, my emotions. I was exposed to a number of religions when I was younger; my grandparents were Southern Baptist and Catholic and while my dad never really applied religion to his life my mom spent much of her early adult life searching for a religion that she felt comfortable with, it took her away from Catholicism but the endeavor enveloped my family in spirituality. My mom would attend Sunday services and if my sister and I didn’t attend, we were asked to explore spirituality/religion in other ways. I’ve been a reader for most of my life, and I think a large part of that is because I chose to read about a variety of religions, and to understand them academically or, rather, theologically. I consumed authors and their books: C.S. Lewis, Piper, Young, Warren, Freud, Jung, Hume, Aristotle, Plato, Aurelius, Campbell, etc., and then began to explore fiction: Wallace, Franzen, Bolano, DeLillo, Pynchon, Gaiman, Tolkien, Wolfe, Proust, I could get lost naming authors, and eventually Musicians, Filmmakers, Artists, etc., as well.
I have withdrawn into conversation with people that I have not understood and fundamentally disagreed with, and in doing so have had to learn to curb my expectations and my assumptions; which, in turn, has taught me that expectation runs deeply, and is one of our archetypical conditions; this helped me to evaluate mine, because most of our expectations are developed when we’re too young even to recognize them and they follow us throughout the entirety of our lives. Acknowledging this allowed me to create my own axiom from which to revise, and re-balance.
There’s a great TED talk by Ken Robinson in which he describes how our society, through the pyramid of our education system, has elevated the role of college professors, as if the position in life were our objective, and academic conquest was the most important aspect of our societal endgame. Robinson says that, in our society, we’ve come to perceive our body as a means of getting our head from one place to another—I’ve always loved the ideology of that—and that we depreciate the arts, many of which such as drama and dance effort our bodies and our emotions more practically.
These are things that most people ignore because of our preconceived expectations and the fact that we, almost too literally, live in our heads; as a result we condition ourselves to ignore our senses, our emotions, and our bodies, and yet these tell us more about ourselves, each other, and our immediate condition than our head(s) ever could (part of the reason is that our education system is an outdated, obvolute system teaching us that 1. there is a right way of doing things and a number of wrong way(s) and, 2. it’s designed around memory as the primary function of thought.
Once we escape our heads and understand how to apply the balance we’re limited by almost nothing; and the easiest way to begin the effort is by working out, the easiest way is to build your body: run and do push-ups, every day or as often as possible the combination of the two works, nearly every muscle—especially if you change up the push-ups (hover push-ups, and try shifting your weight from left to right, wide gripped, diamond, pike, Spider-man, etc.). When you work your body and you maintain a routine your body begins to recognize that you’re willing to listen to it, and it will start talking to you; now you’ll have to start to learn how to listen. Once you’re body and mind are working together consider reevaluating your expectations, and then start recognizing how your emotions are reacting to your, and the actions/reactions of others.
I’m still working through some of those emotional reactions, things that have developed at different points in my life that have remained dormant because new, similar situations haven't presented themselves, and when they begin to, again, for whatever reason, that emotional “baggage”—for lack of a better word—will, again present some of those developed emotional triggers and responses, especially those that have existed, passively and they can be a real pain-in-the-ass to work through, but understanding them mentally and physically, and recognizing what you’re feeling when you are feeling something intentional it becomes a lot easier to both work through, and to relate to the human experience.
I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)