“My greatness is the sum of all my personality defects. Well, most of them anyway.” Me
Personality defect #1: Growing Up Cohen…
This I know: My mother and father loved me very much. My childhood was safe, and my opportunities were numerous. I was never threatened, abused, or otherwise compromised as a child. I was taught right from wrong, good from bad, truth from dishonesty, and to say please and thank you to everything that moved. And for all of this I was loved, housed, fed well, and given 50 cents per week.
My childhood might not quite have been the Ozzie and Harriet show, but it more closely resembled the TV life of the 1950s than it did the Ozzie and Sharon show. Still, from an early age I developed a strong desire to withdraw from my family, from my social peers, and spend a great deal of time in self-imposed isolation.
It wasn’t enough to be alone though, I had to be moving while I was alone. I would ride my bike, skateboard, swim, dive in the pool, shoot baskets, or just walk for hours at a time, and could not be any happier for my introverted exertions. At an early age, solitary exercise was my house of worship, and remains my sanctuary to this day.
The two go well together for me; solitary and exercise. Give me one without the other, and they will each be appreciated. Give me both, and they become trans-formative medicine.
Personality defect #2: Mass Appeal…
I can’t remember the first time I really took notice of a person’s musculature. Maybe I was 12 or so. It might have been a football player on TV, a bodybuilder, a guy swinging a sledge hammer on a road crew, I’m not sure. I do know this; that from a very early age, the sight of lean, well formed, larger than normal muscles on a person compelled me – male or female.
Not just on people either. As a child I would stare for hours at pictures of Seattle Slew and other race horses of the era. The lean musculature of racehorses had a gravity my eyes could not resist. My mom couldn’t get me out of the primate exhibit at the zoo either – the width of a gorilla’s back, and the squareness of his chest was something I wanted too. There has always been something about the ornamental quality of large muscles in motion which has captivated me.
At some point, maybe near middle school, I made this connection; that I possessed the ability to go from just looking at and admiring muscle, to becoming the muscle. On this realization, the course of my life began to take shape. Personality defects #1 and #2 were about merge into the pathway expressway on which I would haul through the rest of my life.
Personality defect #3: Hardworking In All The Wrong Places…
As my desire to create muscle on myself increased, I required more and more time in isolation to work on the muscle project. My requirement for solitary exercise would now consume me.
By the time high school came along, it had gotten in the way of my solitary exercise. I was so involved, as both the sculptor, and the sculpture, that I released myself from high school on my own recognizance.
Drop out. Chalk up. Lift.
Solitary exercise, in the form of weightlifting, had become my single biggest priority. Oh, and there were also the sprint workouts which I began to do 2-3 times per week, which I enjoyed much for the challenge, and the conditioning, but also for the solitude.
As my adult life would further unfold, solitary exercise would expand to include running, cycling, surfing, kayaking, and more. The older I got, the more important my medicinal movement became. It also became my livelihood.
Personality defect #4: The World Begins With Me…
It is this defect, #4, that enabled defects #1 and #2 to become defect #3. I put myself first in most situations – for most of my life. I think science may have it wrong. From my vantage point, the universe is didn’t actually begin until the day I was born – and that’s how I have lived for most of my life.
I like to think that I’m no longer as selfish as I was for the first 5 decades of my life. I now recognize that there are 7 billion persons on Earth not named Roy Cohen. With this realization, I think it’s fair to say that I have become a pretty giving person of my time, of my money, of my heart, and of myself.
My solitary exercise is still the largest part of my life, though I now include others more frequently as I partake in the joy of wearing myself down – wanting to share the experience. In running, hiking, lifting, and cycling with others, I have learned to be more malleable in my exercise ways, and am finding new life from my movements, and fostered new friendships that have enriched my life.
Personality defect #5: Reconciling Utility vs. Fulfillment…
As I have written before, it’s my belief that the car with the most, and the hardest miles on it will likely go to the junkyard first. Of course maintenance, quality of fuel, and quality of miles are factors, but using the body to excess is not necessarily a recipe for a ripe old age. Still, I push hard, and I push daily.
I won’t know until much later in life whether all my personality defects, and my lust for movement have served me well, or will have beaten me down. It will probably be a little of each, but that’s how life is.
Of course these are not all my personality defects, only the ones which serve this essay. I’m not a bright man, but I’m guessing I have a personality defect or two that I’m not willing to advertise. So for those who truly know me, PLEASE feel free this week to drop them into the comments section and help fuel the conversation. Be well. rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this from the Grande Roses, enjoy…