(Author’s note: this one kind of got away from me as I was writing it. Real heavy on the philosophy, not so much on the lifting).
I’ve already addressed the topic of utilizing nihilism in competition to your advantage, but today we’re going to extrapolate even further and discuss how absurdity and nihilism apply when TRAINING for the very competition where we exercise nihilism. As much as absurdity and nihilism tend to carry a negative connotation in everyday vernacular, the reality is that it is how we utilize these concepts that dictates their effects. Absurdity and nihilism are not inherently negative and, if understood and used properly, will actually be incredibly liberating for your training and allow you to reach levels that were previously unobtainable.
Gotta admit; pretty absurd
Let’s start with the basics; training IS absurd. This is a point many don’t want to realize, but it is absolute, 100%, undeniable truth. The sheer act of training to get bigger and stronger is completely absurd. In training to get bigger and stronger, we are ignoring the reality that, one day, we will die and all that we worked for will mean nothing, and all this time invested in this activity will be worthless. Those that train are investing in a body that will one day fail, break down, grow weak, decrepit, crippled and fundamentally worthless. Ultimately, training is a waste of time.
However, simply because something is absurd does NOT mean that it is not worth pursuing. Extending even further, LIFE is absurd. We are the only species fully aware of the reality that, one day, we will die, and this puts us in such a unique situation. Every action we take, we take knowing that, ultimately it will be meaningless. When we EMBRACE this, we liberate ourselves. The only way we harm ourselves in the presence of absurdity is through denial; attempting to convince ourselves that what we do matters and our actions are important, and therefore it is our moral imperative to perform the most significant actions to have the greatest contributions. Instead, when we recognize the absurd for what it is and then choose to still go forth, THAT is true bravery. Clinging onto meaning is cowardice; the brave walk into the abyss knowing that it holds no promise.
You can try this at home
We exercise our mastery over the absurd IN our training. We train being at peace with the absurd, knowing that everything we do is meaningless, so why not have our ONE thing and make it the one thing we do well in a meaningless world? We make our OWN meaning. And in doing so, there is no need to worry about the end game of it all. Train for NOW. Train for immediacy. Train so that you get the results you want, not so that you can keep training in your twilight years and eventually train on the day that you die.
This is where nihilism and the absurd liberate you, because the people still clinging on to meaning in a meaningless world refuse to take the risks necessary in order to succeed. When you still have hope that you’re going to be spry and energetic in your 90s, you don’t want to risk pushing too hard on a last set of squats and potentially blowing out a knee. You don’t want to risk rupturing a disk on a set of deadlifts that was maybe a little too heavy. You don’t want to put it all on the line in a contest and leave it out all there on the field, because what if you get hurt? But when you’ve made your peace? You do these things knowing that there are no “risks”. Life has a 100% mortality rate, and ultimately nothing that you do, for good OR for ill, has any real consequence. If you blow out your knee, it won’t matter in 500 years, because you won’t even be a memory. That pain, agony and regret will be long gone. BUT, in your one moment of greatness, in your one point in the present, where the stars lined up and everything worked out and you finally achieved one of your absurd goals, you will HAVE that moment AT that moment.
Only weak people find themselves asking "why"
We reverse the power of the absurd and nihilism; turn it on its head to OUR advantage. There are no consequences to our actions; only rewards for the brave. If we get hurt, sick, injured, it’s all immaterial, for one day we will pass on. But if we achieved greatness in pursuit of OUR meaning; the meaning we decided to pursue in an absurd world? THAT is victory, and we bask in it. Because we are all inevitably heading to the same end, it becomes a question of simply who will spend their time pursuing their meaning while they embrace the absurd vs who will hide from the absurd through denial and refuse to even entertain the notion of finding their own meaning. Will you choose your own meaning and pursue it as hard as you can, or will you only pay lip service to your meaning, in the hopes that you will somehow “save yourself” for the end?
Take the risks no one else is willing to take, because you understand that they AREN’T risk. Train too hard, too long, too often. Train with the goal of getting as big and strong as possible, NOT with the goal of being as safe as possible. Throw caution to the wind, be ridiculous, get hurt, get rebuilt, and do it all over again. Have YOUR goals, and pursue them irrespective of if anyone else likes them or agrees with them or supports them. Choose YOUR meaning, knowing it is an absurd thing, and when anyone feels the need to point it out, AGREE with them, and then train anyway. You need no other reason other than the fact that it is YOUR meaning.