21 reps of bench press.
21 reps of deadlift.
Meet Valeria. I can't stop thinking about her. The Right Reverend Gym Jones introduced me to a world I had never seen before. Here I met Fran and was immediately intimidated. Some people would think that she's a bit easier than Valeria. 21x15x9 of thrusters and pull-ups but quite honestly, I can't do 21 pull-ups consecutively. Valeria seems more my speed because I can break up the reps into sets.
What is it about a challenge that excites a man? And here I use 'man' as a substitute for 'human' simply for the aesthetic effect of the word. Women love challenges too. Ask any capable woman and ask them what kind of man turns them off and the vast majority will say that a limp, damp, tepid man who tries too hard to please her and clings too tightly, this kind of man downright disgusts women. And vice versa. A desperate person who believes that being more and more available and showing more and more interest is the key to being liked have got it terribly wrong. Men and women of a certain capacity desire challenge.
Has anyone considered what it must be like for a person universally considered to be beautiful? Take any celebrity, I'll choose Angelina Jolie for the purpose of this mental exercise because I always imagined her as Rand's Dagny Taggart. Think what you might of her, if you don't consider her beautiful choose anyone you wish. Think of all the attributes that you admire about them from skin, hair, proportions (bust/waist/hips for that hourglass figure or shoulders/chest/waist for that intimidating V) and then think about how unusual it is to find that in this world.
And then think about it from their shoes. How boring it must be. Oh sure, the attention and flattery and people falling all over themselves must be fun... until what, High School? College? How those people must long for someone that treats them as more than physical beauty, for someone who won't be intimidated. Whether they acknowledge other's opinions of them or not, they are certainly everyday-ordinary to themselves. When they look in a mirror, the flaws glare at them the same way it does for the rest of us. They too know what they can be doing better.
So out loud or within, I laugh when people, some who genuinely love and care for me, tell me that I'm strong enough or fast enough or anything enough. How can they say that anything I have is enough? They don't live in my life and their words alone tell me that they don't know, can't know how unbearable it is to stare at my own weakness. What is more worth? Is it worth your life? Well, it all depends on how you esteem your life, doesn't it? Do you aim to live long and thin, a nebulous cloud of gray mediocrity and soggy stances on everything? Or would you trade longevity for intensity? That's a personal decision everyone has to make.
Fortunately, it's a false dilemma for me as the very activities that intensify life also extend it. Not a candle flickering brightly before extinguishing, but the training deepens and brightens life like the hundred million nuclear explosions at the heart of a star. But these reactions are called chain reactions for a reason. Breaking even one link breaks the entire chain. Intensity ceases to be intensity if the resolution and determination, the commitment disappears. For a moment this past winter, that chain shattered. Am I repairing it or building a new one? Who really freaking cares? The reaction will continue pursuing my own transcendence, continue to rise above the here and now. The man of tomorrow must live in the today.