Sunday, October 29, 2017

ON BEING HUMAN


Anyone familiar with my writing is most likely aware that I am a misanthrope.  My distain for humanity en masse is great, and I take great delight in pointing out the constant foibles, pit falls, mistakes and failings of humanity.  From the nature of humans to their actions to the societies they create, I am never at a loss of something to deride and denigrate.  Yet, amazingly, what I find most despicable in many humans is their constant striving to NOT embrace their humanity, but to instead attempt to shed it someway.  In something of a paradox, while I can’t stand humans, I feel like I am the only one actually trying to BE human.

Image result for mariusz pudzianowski
Or, at least, whatever this is

“Hey, isn’t this a lifting blog?”  Yeah, stick with me, I’ll get to that.  We are a flawed race, that much is certain.  But many choose to ignore these flaws rather than to recognize them, embrace them, and then OVERCOME them.  People experience bugs and hiccups as a part of existing and are in such a rush to “fix” them and return to a state of equilibrium that they miss out on the experience of “being”, and more specifically, of being HUMAN.  There is so much concern with eliminating all feeling of pain, suffering, adversity and even mere inconvenience and boredom to manufacture a state of constant nirvana like bliss that is alien, and in doing so we make ourselves weaker.

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about how people want to know how people who train in the morning have energy for the rest of the day.  The answer?  They don’t!  They get up, they feel exhausted, and then they train and they feel miserable, and then they go through the rest of their day feeling tired.  Because that’s what happens to an actual human when you deprive them of sleep, wake them up from their natural circadian rhythm, have them engage in rigorous exercise absent of sunlight and then force them to have a full work day after that.  That is a normal human way to feel in those situations.  But people want the answer; they want the cure, the fix!  And others create the cure, and you take caffeine and pre-workouts and upper and you time your nutrients and perfect your sleeping ritual to ensure you get your maximal restful allowance and guarantee that, even though you aren’t getting enough rest, you feel rested.  What sort of abomination have you become?

Image result for South Park WoW
I mean, this guy ALSO sees no sunlight, works all day, and seems to be constantly energized

How do I trick myself into thinking exercise is fun?  It’s not!  And yet people try all manner of hypnosis and self-talk to try to trick themselves into becoming a masochist.  They want toil and hardship and pain and misery to be fun.  To be recreation!  To be blissful.  How horrifying!  What sort of deviant have you become?  Surely not human, but some sort of sick, twisted monster that exists of pain and suffering.

What of those that refuse to suffer the indignation of a bad day? They ponder and question how they can control every external variable to ensure that they always present peak performance.  Optimal sleep, optimal nutrition, optimal time of day training, optimal recovery protocol, an optimal life for a NON-OPTIMAL LIFEFORM.  You are human; you are imperfect.  You are damaged.  Your attempts to ignore and avoid your imperfection prevent you from learning how to live with and, therefore, thrive through your imperfection.

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
Some of us are more damaged than others

You are not overcoming; you are simply becoming.  You do not become super-human in your attempts to become inhuman.  Relish your humanity, understand your nature, and embrace these shortcomings, because it is only once they have been acknowledged that you CAN overcome them.  You do not have a bug in your DNA; this is simply what you are.  You don’t need to cure, it; you need to endure it!  You need to beat it through persistence, determination, will and tenacity, for THESE are what make us human. 

A necessary quality of a “super-human” is in fact that of BEING human.  The super-human still maintains their humanity, and still feels the pain of training, the anguish of toil and the fatigue inherent in exhaustion, but they continue on in spite of these feelings because they are well accomplished and practiced in overcoming this adversity.  They acknowledge the pain as real, and they acknowledge that it is happening to them, and they in turn also acknowledge that it is within their power if they will continue on or stop, but they do NOT try to convince themselves that the pain is positive and a joy that they seek.  They are, in fact, still human.

Image result for superman bulletproofImage result for wolverine bullet holes
On the left: alien.  On the right: human (mutant).  Note the difference.

And when it gets to be too much and you breakdown, HAVE that breakdown.  Do not hide from the feelings of shame, disappointment, pain, regret and fear.  Do not try to convince yourself that this is what you wanted.  Do not try to hide with drugs, social media, self help gurus and other distractions.  Feel these human feelings and know them, so that you know that you find them offensive and have even more reason to continue on. 


Attempting to hide from these feelings of being human is what creates mediocre humans.  The blissful nirvana that one attempts to create through the absence of human feelings is tepid and lukewarm, with no real thrills or actual feelings of satisfaction.  There is no success to be found here, because there is no failure to contrast success against.  Become MORE than human by first choosing to be as human as you can be.  

17 comments:

  1. Its not a glitch, its a feature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup! This kept going real close to that piece I had already written too, but it's amazing how much people want to "fix" their humanity.

      Delete
    2. Had a similar discussion with my mother over my erratic sleep schedule, she couldnt understand how i managed to not be tired. Little does she know....

      Delete
    3. Isn't it such a bizarre assumption? "This person sleeps less than everyone else. They must have some sort of secret that allows them to feel rested with little sleep".

      Using a little Occam's razor, much easier to go "This person sleeps less than everyone else. They must be tired."

      Delete
  2. Couldn't agree more about the value of overcoming rather than avoiding. Can't say I always practice it, but I try to.

    Thanks for another enjoyable and interesting read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much appreciated dude. As long as you recognize when you are failing to overcome as failure rather than success, you're at least on the right path.

      Delete
  3. Man - The Carnivore!

    "It has taken countless evolutionary epochs to make man what he is, the most ferocious hirsute beast of prey that inhabits the caverns and jungles of earth.

    Can his osseous mechanism and pathological instincts be summarily extinguished or reversed, merely by connecting him, per an electric wire, laid through the sewers of Rome, to the feeble dynamos of Bethlehem, and Tarsus? Can his structural anatomy, intended for conflict and slaughter, be transformed in a day, a year, or even in “a million, million of suns?”

    To overmaster and devour his neighbor, in the reasoned effort to obtain food and booty, land, love, renown and gold is bred into the very marrow of his bones. Therefore all efforts made by Reformers and Messiahs, to transfigure him into a “lamb” are foreordained to fathomless failure. Indeed it would be much more reasonable of them, to attempt the transfiguration of a grizzly bear into a parlor poodle or propose the transformation of a bald-headed eagle into a gently cooing turtle-dove."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An interesting piece. What is it from?

      Delete
    2. A fairly controversial book from 1890, 'Might is Right' by Arthur Desmond.

      Delete
    3. Calling it controversial gives it some perhaps unwarranted weight.

      I think that religion, especially Abrahamic religions, attempts to alter humans more by riddling them with shame and guilt. And the idea that humans are some sort of terrifying beast is risible.

      Anyway, too much to unpack here I'd say. But most importantly might is right and humans as apex predators doesn't seem to follow from the original post from Emevas, interesting though the discussion could be.

      Delete
  4. Then why do you do strength training? Why do you do all this hard things? You like to compete? You like to be strong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A great question. I believe the question of "why do these things" is fundamentally answered by Nietzsche's "Will to Power"; the concept that organisms have an inherent drive to impose their will on others and achieve victory. And in going with my "being human" theme, the victory is not achieve through cybernetic implants or abusing chemicals in the hopes of "creating" a superhuman but in OVERCOMING in order to BECOME something greater.

      I don't like to compete, but I like what competing does for me; it makes me stronger. I got significantly more strong when I competed vs when I didn't, because it's a driving force that makes me strengthen my weaknesses.

      Regarding "liking to be strong"; I honestly don't know if I can even say I like it. It's a disease for me. Something in my brain compels me to want to be big and strong. It's a calling I've felt since I was 4. I have no logical explanation for it, and have long since given up trying to find one. I figure it's just a Kirkegaardian-esque compulsion to find ONE thing in life and pursue it in spite of the absurdity of it.

      Delete
  5. Haha, man, you struck a nerve with this one. Are you a fan of the post-structural or Foucauldian philosophy? We're reading a paper in class this week about sport's disciplinary legacy and how difficult it is to unpack disciplinary coaching practices.

    It's a little too coaching-focused for me to think that the full text would be interesting to you, but I thought this section excerpted below applied immediately:

    In a similar argument to the one we are making here concerning the challenge of empowering individuals within an overarching disciplinary framework, McDonald and O’Callaghan (2008) critiqued the ‘truth claims’ or promises of the positive psychology movement ‘to redress the balance in psychology from a preoccupation with illness and pathology toward a ‘new science’ based on positive subjective experiences, positive traits, and positive institutions’ by illustrating through Foucault, ‘the power relations of social control operating in positive psychology’s discourses.' According to McDonald and O’Callaghan, far from liberating psychology from its history of pessimism and a focus on the negative and pathological, ‘it [positive psychology] has instituted a new set of governmental and disciplinary mechanisms by means of defining what is ‘positive’ in human existence via a prescriptive set of constructs.' For example, positive psychology’s promise of superior human functioning, well-being and happiness has been taken up by many managers as a way to cultivate workers’ ‘unique’ talents and ensure they are happy on the job. But interestingly, this cultivation of individuals’ so-called special talents never seems to include talents like ‘irony, resistance, justice, constructive criticism, reciprocity, and equality.' Rather, as a large body of research on workplace management has shown, managers only seem to be ‘interested in talents that conform to the neoliberal values of individualism, competitiveness, independence, enterprise, entrepreneurship, dynamism, productivity, and flexibility.’

    WR

    ReplyDelete
  6. Was hoping you'd chime in. Always like our discussions on this.

    I like what Focault realizes, but found his writing dry. Great subject matter though, and fascinating ideas. The shifting of values corresponds a bit with Nietsche's notion of "slave morality" coinciding with the increase of civilizing of man.

    That's a fantastic passage quoted as well. Shamefully, I will admit that one of the more driving forces behind what I wrote here was a scene from "Fight Club". When Tyler pours the chemical on the narrator's wrist and slaps him while he's trying to "find his happy place", telling him that THIS is his pain and it's HIS to experience. Just something in there resonated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Foucault's writing is definitely dry, but I really like the Foucault-inspired writings that can add new life to it and interpret the original ideas in different ways. Particularly as it pertains to coaching, most of the discussions are around how baked-in disciplinary practices are to coaching and how we invariably end up disciplining even when we try not to because of the power dynamic of coach-athlete. Where the two subjects seem to overlap frequently is in the idea of "is it beneficial to control that?" and I think that's a question people would do well to ask more often.

      I wonder what Palahniuk thinks of Fight Club these days. It's funny to me as something that certainly seemed cutting edge or novel or whatever at the time, ideologically, but has since become almost a trope of the "woke" edgey kids. Or maybe it always was?

      WR

      Delete
    2. This is an article I like that seems to me to demonstrate your core concept on this blog. I've heard the author, a tennis coach, talk about his theories of sport psychology and how positive psychology is BS. He describes the mind like a chess board--you move from light squares (positive thoughts) to dark squares (negative thoughts), but what matters is that you keep moving. He is big on not wasting energy controlling the mind, spending energy instead on controlling actions and making sure that you're making the right actions regardless of your mental state.

      https://www.tennisconsult.com/wawrinka-panic-attack-won-us-open/

      WR

      Delete
    3. That was a fantastic read. A great point many need to grasp. It's the whole "bravery isn't having no fear; it's having fear and doing it anyway"

      Delete