Monday, November 8, 2010

The Best

Always be on the lookout for knowledge. You never know where you’re going to find it and it’s also surprising how you can find something useful about one issue when looking for answers to something entirely different. Several weeks ago, I was in church listening to the priest talk about the latest gospel. Among the things that he mentioned, he talked about being good enough for God’s standards and how the effort to be the best at earthly things often times ran contradictory to the goal of being the person that God wants us to be.

These words hit me quite differently two weeks later. My wife and I took my grandmother to see her sister in upstate New York. My wife felt like driving, which bored me to tears. Everyone was still tired from waking up so early so with nothing to do but sit silently and get car sick from my wife’s driving (no easy task), I picked up the latest issue of Muscle and Fitness out of sheer boredom. The latest issue discussed the training of the stars of the Expendables. Actually, it only discussed the physically largest stars of the Expendables: Stallone, Dolph Lundren, Randy Couture, and Terry Lewis. The writers of the article took the time to dead-pan the cast of “300” as merely 175 lbs actors with body paint.
Guys who look like they could kill 25 people
The next article afterwards was a very interesting juxtaposition: Real life war heroes. Real life “Expendables.” Of course, none of these Expendables looked liked the previous, fictional “Expendables.”
Guy who actually did kill 25 people!
That's when something occured to me. A lot of the training that people do is to be the best, or at least better. In theory, superlatives aren't subject to people's thoughts and feelings on the topic. That's not true though. We're unable to figure out for sure who was, or is, the best. Plus, defining the best would have to be based on criteria made by other people. There are a lot of man-made standards out there. Was Paul Anderson stronger than Matt Kroczaleski? Or is Ron Coleman way more powerful than both? It's hard to say since one was a powerlifter and the other did mostly Olympics lifting. Coleman is a bodybuilder.

That brings another question up: is that standard of strength that we're judged by worth meeting? Do we really want to take enough steroids to keep up with Coleman? Do warriors in battle need to be as imposing as Dolph Lundren to survive combat? Where does your health fit into this equation? Paul Anderson was a big, powerful man but live long enough to collect social security, something most people in the USA were. He was born with a kidney condition that doomed him but could he have hung around longer if he trained differently?

Being the best in these strength games are just that: games. I'm not trying to say that's a bad thing. Certainly I'd think it's a more constructive use of time to lift big, heavy shit than to waste time on the internet arrogantly talking-up how tough you are or playing GI Joe-like strongman comparison's. At the end of the day, it's all exercise, something that most in Western society sorely lack these days too.

Let's not confuse games' overall worth in our lives. The games we play, and the training we do, should be to fulfill ourselves, be it emotionally or physically. Things go wrong when we seek a sense of fulfillment from others.

..."and may the god of your choice bless you!"


Anonymous said...

Check out the "Soldiers" clip on the Expendables facebook page exclusively from the Blu-Ray combo pack!

frequent reader, seldom a replier said...

I like to try and be as good as I can be.
The best 'me', so to speak.

It might sound cliché, I admit. But can anyone ever be more?