Irony At Easter…


One of the great ironies I see in the social media era is this…

I have a network of friends, liberal, open-minded people, who would fight to their death to protect my human rights. If I were gay, transgender, smoked pot, or preferred having sex with inanimate objects, they would support me. Yet there is a duality in how they view people’s religion – they are against it.

By the way, being against religion doesn’t make one an atheist, it makes one an antitheist, and that’s dangerous. Simply put, if a person is against religion as a collective, or a specific religion, that is a form of prejudice – period. To be against anyone’s beliefs in favor of their own is an undeniable act of bigotry, and cannot be justified, only rationalized. Hint: when you rationalize bigotry, you don’t look so good.

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Religion has been part of our cultural DNA since hunter-gatherer times. If we accept that cultural evolution parallels biological evolution, and that over time it weeds out traits that don’t serve the cause of advancement, then cultural evolution would have weeded out religion millennia ago. This has not been the case. Though religion has changed through the years, its practice is at an all-time high.

Religion, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of culture. All art began as sacred art. All social structure began as sacred law. All wonder, I believe, is rooted in sacred awe.

As millions of people celebrate Easter this week, I am saddened to see so many of my open-minded friends poking fun at the Christian faith in the forms of memes, sophomoric observations, and childish ridicule. We should do better than that.

To all my friends who celebrate Easter, may you celebrate in peace. To all my friends who ridicule the former, don’t be so gutless. Please support those who wish to celebrate in peace, as you would support those who would rather not.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this more recent twist on a classic from Dwight Yokum  Enjoy….

Insistency Of Consistency…

What’s In A Name…

I’m often troubled with how religions, as well as how religious people can be treated on social media.  I see memes and assertions daily poking fun at religion, at religious people, and in many instances, calling for others to step away from religion.  I find this unsavory on one level, and sad on another.

I have many atheist friends, and I understand why so many doubt or disbelieve in a higher power.  I get it.  For many, atheism is the right choice.  I would defend a person’s right to be atheist with all I have in me, despite that I am not one.

As a point of clarification though, if a person is against religion – if he or she speaks out against, or puts effort toward to pulling people away from religion, they are not an atheist, they are an antitheist.  They would also be a bigot.

Raise Your Hand If…

By the cursory definition that an atheist believes in an absence of deities, somewhere between 2-13% of the human population are declared atheists.  This suggests that the remaining 87-98% of the human population are either unsure of deities, or otherwise committed to one.

One data source I used suggests that 6.5 billion of the planet’s 7.1 billion people believe in a higher power.  Of that 6.5 billion people, 78% claim a religious affiliation of some sort, though many are not active within their associated affiliation.

If that large a percentage of the world’s population believes in a god and has even a lose religious affiliation, and if a person feels compelled to make fun of or to attempt to pull their friends and loved ones away from religion, they are not only antitheists and bigots, but they are also fighting the largest of losing causes.

On Simple Amusement…

One of the great ironies I see with those who poke fun at religion, and of those who would have religion abolished if they were so empowered, is that very often these same people are socially liberal.  That is, they are defenders of causes such as LBGT rights, cannabis legalization, and freedoms of expression, yet they are actively against a belief in the divine.

The antitheist, despite the probability that they are socially liberal, are too often compelled to tease and even torment believers, and to treat them as though they are doddering ignoramuses who are lucky enough to keep from tying their own shoes together each morning.  Again, I find this unsavory, but more deeply, I feel that making fun of a great majority of all humans to be repugnant.

If I, in the presence of a socially liberal friend were to poke fun at a gay or transgender person, I would be immediately rebuked and taken to task.  Still, the urge to poke fun at those who find salvation in prayer is entertaining, if not uncontrollable for many who I have just described.

tolerance

Give me light.  Give me life.  Keep me free from birth…

Be Consistent With Your Hate, As Well As With Your Love…

All I’m suggesting here is consistency.  If you’re okay with other people smoking pot, having same-gender consensual sex, and implore on behalf of the freedoms of choice, and you don’t make fun of anyone for it, then please be okay with someone who believes in god and chooses to pray.

As there is no need to shame or criticize someone because they have a pot leaf on their t-shirt, there is also no need to shame or criticize someone for having a cross or a star as their profile picture.  Conversely, if you’re going to poke fun at someone for believing in god, please take time to pick on the coloreds and the fags too.

We all have the right to stand for what we believe in.  There is no need though, at all, to make fun of someone’s beliefs for the simple satisfaction of a smirk or a laugh.  We can do better than that.  As a species, it’s time we practice to understand.  Be well.  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Rick Astley.  Don’t blame me on this one.  I put it to my social media community to choose this week’s song.  You can all blame, Drea!!!!

A Call To Think Before We Follow…

Richual…

Arrive. Light the candle. Do the gesture. Say the words. Sip from the cup. Eat the thing. Read the verse. Talk with some like-minded folks. Leave.

Arrive. Unzip the bag. Lift the thing. Do the stretch. Sip from the bottle. Eat the thing. Read whatever, while your legs move. Talk with some like-minded folks. Leave.

When viewed in these terms, it’s hard not see parallels between the observance of religion and the observance of exercise. Largely, both are based on ritual in the day-to-day practice. I think it’s fair to say, whether we are talking about religion or we are talking about exercise, many who observe these rituals don’t viscerally understand how their rituals, or that their rituals have evolved over time.

It’s also fair to suggest that many who observe these rituals don’t understand how those evolutions have been influenced by those of varying levels of intent through the decades. Often, people have been indoctrinated into these cultures and rituals superficially, without adequate study, and have only the feeling that they should be observant.  Many people feel if they aren’t observant, they will be seen by others as missing something important in their life. That is, they go through the motions unwittingly, because they feel they should.

The Bible Of Fitness…

Lore has it Rabbi Hillel was approached by a student to recite the entire Hebrew Bible while standing on one leg. The story goes that Rabbi Hillel took to one foot and spoke,

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, the rest is just commentary. Now go you, and learn it.”

An early Hebrew interpretation of The Golden Rule.

The only rule that matters...

The only rule that matters…

Most religious scripture is just that; commentary on a very simple theme which, when lived by, serves us well as individuals and as societies.

I have been told many times that this book or that book is the bible of exercise. I have purchased dozens of so-called bibles in my fitness life. Each one of them has contained variations and over complications of what can be reduced to a simple theme; eat properly, exercise regularly, be consistent. In a sense, that is the golden rule of fitness.

Most exercise scripture is protracted commentary on the theme of proper eating and movement. A lot of words, variations, and agendas assembled, rewritten, manipulated, and utilized for good and for lesser intent. None of it though, more important than the simplicity that Hillel prescribed to his student while standing on one foot.

The only fitness bible you need. Hint: There are no pages inside...

The only fitness bible you need. Hint: There are no pages inside…

Who Wears The Collar: Dogma And Leadership…

I can’t pinpoint the year, but somewhere in my mid-teens is when I made the connection between religious leadership and leadership in exercise. When I was 15 years old my church gym was the Eisenhower Park Recreation Center in suburban Denver. The biggest, strongest guy there was Gary Dorren. Gary was in his mid-20s, puffy if not muscular, with red curly hair, and made his living as lineman for Mountain Bell.

Being the biggest, strongest guy in the gym made Gary the go-to guy for advice from us smaller folk. In a sense, he was our minister, and he even sold himself to us in this way. One problem; Gary was the beneficiary of good genetics and quality pharmaceuticals, not the pinnacle of wisdom nor education. He was qualified to be a telephone lineman, not a gym priest. It was poor vetting and high expectations of my friends and I which elevated his stature in our naive eyes.

One of the first pieces of advice that Gary offered me was that if I wanted to make good gains, I needed to eat a loaf of bread a day. So I took the sacrament, and for several weeks thereafter, I ate a loaf of bread every day of my life. I gained nothing but body fat.  That wasn’t the only bad advice Gary gave me, nor was he the only one who sent my eager mind down counterproductive paths through the years.

As I grew older I sought fewer answers from the exercise clergy – men like Gary who stood on the mountain top.  I quit listening to others and began looking for those answers within, where I would ultimately find them. At the heart of my search, alongside common sense, was the golden rule of fitness; eat properly, exercise regularly, be consistent.

Though I would advance to make this a career, create and share my own commentaries on that central theme through the next several decades, I have always kept my opinions streamlined and easy to comprehend, for myself as well as for those I teach.  With leadership comes responsibility. From my own perch, the responsibility I take most seriously is the idea of keeping things simple, and keeping agenda filtered out to the best of my ability.

The overcomplicated, relentlessly dogmatic, and ever changing trends in fitness are selling a lot of gym memberships, DVDs, books, magazines, and supplements. Cardio theaters fill like pews on a Sunday, pockets get lined with cash, and though there are some beneficiaries from this process, many more just go through the motions not knowing why, and with little to show for it.  At the end of the day, most answers will come from within, and individual success will be the product of simplicity and consistency. Go now, and learn it. Be well… rc

Post Script:  Please feel free to superimpose this message over the ideals of religion, business, higher learning, and politics….

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Harlem. Enjoy!

Mixed Thoughts On Religious Tolerance…

Calling 9/11…

In the days after 9/11 people went to books stores and got online in droves to attain, read and better understand the Qur’an. Presumably, so they might better understand the motivation behind the attack on the World Trade Centers. Huston Smith once wrote, “nobody ever curled up on a rainy night with the Qur’an.” Honestly, on the heels of 9/11 the need to better understand Islam never crossed my mind.

I guess I was fortunate inasmuch as I didn’t feel a need to read Islamic text to better understand Muslims. I simply saw them daily and up close. I had two Muslim clients at the time; hardworking business people with dreams, beliefs, shortcomings, puppies, and tonsillitis – just like me. Because we were social in and out of the gym, I saw firsthand through their extended families and friends what their surface lives looked like. With the exception of names which were often difficult to pronounce, their lives and mine were surprisingly similar.

My friends, both female, didn’t dress in what we think of as traditional Islamic women’s attire – unless sweat pants and ponytails fall into that category. From their gym memberships, to their favorite chocolates, to Wiggles concerts and all in-between, they were Americans.

They didn’t remain clients too long after 9/11, though they do remain friends. Despite that they dressed and conducted themselves like normal Americans, they had middle eastern names, darker skin, and did little to hide their Muslim faith, though they were not overtly Muslim. Their Islam, like many people’s religion, was just something they carried in their back pocket, to be taken out as needed.

Celebrate difference...

Celebrate difference…

In a conservative town though, it became increasingly hard for them to go out without having their faith publicly questioned, and often persecuted by the ignorant. In watching this take place I would learn that ignorance can be overpowering. So overpowering that my two friends eventually left the area in favor of the more forgiving downtown San Diego where there is a more broadminded populous.

To think, from that singular day in 2001, and from the actions of only a few, every day thereafter my friends, like many Muslims in the US, would have to pull their Islam from their back pocket and present it like some kind of cultural ID card to be scrutinized whenever questioned by the ignorant. How old that must have gotten. Rarely do I see Christians and Jews have to explain their beliefs or justify their intentions while buying detergent, based solely on the act of a few on a given day.

Broad Brush Strokes…

I was asked recently by a young woman I mentor about the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I was quick to channel her toward seeking the commonalities between them, explaining she would learn more by directing her attention to how similar the 3 faiths are. She kept pressing me though, as if she might discover some major difference(s) if I were to better divide the 3 religions for her.

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I explained that broad brush strokes usually paint blurry pictures, but I would do my best to reduce it to three fundamentals differences which I see to be as much cultural as they are religious:

– Christianity is fundamentally about forgiveness over indiscretion.
– Judaism is about repairing indiscretion.
– Islam is about living life in a way that there is no need for forgiveness or repair.

None of those 3 explanations is more noble than the other two. I’ll even suggest that it is the goal of each faith to combine all 3; to forgive, to repair, and to move forward in a better way, but that each tenet noted above is central to its corresponding faith. However broad those brush strokes might be, I actually stand with them. I feel very good about offering this perspective to my young friend.

Atheism, Islam, And Prejudice…

One of the great ironies I see in the social media era is this: I have a network of liberal, open-minded friends who would fight to their death to protect my human rights. If I were gay, transgender, or preferred to have sex with monkeys, they would support me. I find an unsavory duality with the knowledge that many of those open minded friends are against all religion and call themselves atheists.

By the way, being against religion doesn’t make one an atheist. It makes one an anti-theist. In an even more inverse irony, many of these anti-theist friends are now standing up for immigrant Muslims, yet take a hard stand against American Christianity. This makes no sense and can’t be explained, only rationalized.

Simply put, if a person is against religion as a collective, or any particular religion, that is a form of prejudice – period. To be against anyone’s beliefs in favor of their own is an undeniable act of bigotry. So please, don’t defend my right to have sex with monkeys if you won’t also support my right to pray to a god – any god, or every last god in the pantheon.

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Religion has been part of our cultural DNA since hunter-gatherer times. Like any trait of biological evolution, if religion did not serve a sound purpose in carrying our species upward and ahead, cultural evolution would have weeded religion out long ago. Clearly it has not. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Jellyfish. Enjoy!

A Fair Comparison…

I’m about to compare people’s desire to spot-reduce body fat to their need for religious salvation. To amuse you even further, I will also compare myself to Confucius.

A Day At The Beach…

About 10 years ago I took a day off to enjoy the beach with a few friends. At the time I was in my mid-40s, pretty lean, and definitely in good aesthetic and functional shape. I kind of like being at the beach – it’s a nice reward for the efforts I put into my exercise and eating regimen. It was just a casual surf day, a little chicken on the fire, some cold beer, and some sun on our backs… and hips… and bellies.

The gentlemen I was with though – my social contemporaries, had a little less back, and a little more belly and hip. As the afternoon unfolded we lay in the sun, chatted, and eventually questions began to come my way about what exercises can be used to lose body fat; hips, bellies, etc.

The Lost Diet-tribe…

I went into my normal diatribe about how fat loss is almost exclusively related to dietary concerns, and that there are no exercises – NONE which can foster or expedite fat loss in a particular region of the body. My response was based on two factors; empirical science, and my time in position working with others. Or as I like to call them, knowledge and wisdom. Confucian-like wisdom.

High on the mountain top...

High on the mountain top…

My friends appreciated my explanation, but as is always the case, they were not pleased my answers. The very idea that one has to eat less and be patient in order to lose body fat is far too similar to the story of eternal salvation; live a long time, be patient, do all the right things, and heaven awaits – but not until then!

Savior Questions For The Beach…

Later that afternoon we played some pickup football in the sand with some younger guys, two of whom happen to be defensive backs for a local junior college. One of the guys was extremely lean – shredded, and was impressive to look at. He and I began talking about the weight room when my friends joined in, asking him what he did to get his abs so developed.

First point of clarification: This was a 19 year old man who was genetically gifted, both athletically and aesthetically – that’s what skill position players in college football are.

Second Point: His only job was to spend his mornings and afternoons running sprint intervals at top seed on the practice field, tear up the weight room, and to sleep through classes and meetings. This is what college football players do – even more so at the JC level. Guys like this can and often do eat whatever they want. And by JC, I mean junior college – for now.

Now if that contradicts what I said earlier about spot-reduction, understand there is a big difference between doing a few sit-ups to lose inches, and spending a majority of one’s day running sprints and lifting weights.

No, Spot. No!

As my friends watched and listened, the JC player began to describe what he did to get his abs. I could feel the knowledge and wisdom I had shared with them earlier disappear as they created more room in their heads for something which better suited their high expectations – JC wisdom. The fact that my friends could see this man’s abs in action was all they needed in order to have false hope. And a savior was born – if not anointed.

JC, but not JC...

JC, but not JC…

Notwithstanding, the ab exercises this guy described were not only unnecessary to condition the abs, they were unsafe for anyone not already in excellent physical condition. They were abdominal exercises which offered more risk than benefit – but that’s another story.

Looks perfectly safe -- and smart...

Looks perfectly safe — and smart…

The Lightbulb…

And that’s when the light went off for me, what does it say about the human condition that when we want something so badly we often pin our hopes on things which not only seem too good to be true, but can steer us away from sound wisdom, common sense, and even science…?

We see this in all areas of life, from Keith Urban’s instant guitar success course, to investment advisers who too often throw darts on our behalf when we aren’t looking, to houses of worship claiming they alone possess the exclusive path to salvation.

There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to abandon wisdom, experience, hard work, and patience, in order that we get more of anything and get it sooner. Sadly, this includes deliverance from evil, or from adipose.

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Those same friends did not benefit from the exercises they learned from the young football player that day at the beach. They probably never attempted them. More to the point, my friends did not accept or benefit from the sound wisdom and experience I offered them, and they could have – if only they hadn’t been looking for sooner, easier, and miraculous. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from John J. Presley. Enjoy!

Fundamentally Speaking…

You can’t spell fundamental without mental…

Disappointed, but not surprised. That is the feeling I got last week when the emails started to trickle in. That they showed up at all verifies something I have felt for a long time, though I have chosen to swallow those feelings rather than broadcast them. To have expressed them would have been to pick an argument not worth arguing, resulting in no conclusion. In politics, religion, or social subcultures I rarely criticize – not even those things I may disagree with. I believe the world works better in nonzero terms. Shut up. Coexist. Move on.

We’re all familiar with the idea of fundamentalism. In this era we often associate fundamentalism with religion, though there are other forms. At its base level, fundamentalism is the belief in, and the strict adherence to a cause or ideal. I think we can add to that cursory definition, the disapproval of any ideal counter to or not consistent with the core ideal. And by “disapproval” I mean, disrespect.

Disagreements between fundamentalists of a particular group, and those outside that group often evoke passion, raised voices, and increased friction. Fundamentalists often get defensive with regard to their core values, and ideals. Occasionally defense turns to offense, and the result can be violence, death, and even war. This week I was reminded that that the ideal of fundamentalism isn’t exclusive to religion; it even exists the community of fitness. And though I hope it does not result in war, I’m sure a few grenades will be launched my way for writing this.

Satire night live…

It was a simple action; I posted something to my Facebook page last week, and in doing so invited a new genre of fundamentalists into my life, opening the gates to fractured friendships, aggressive rhetoric, and outright hate mail lobbed my way. Here’s the back story:

The Duffle Blog is an online satirical publication similar to The Onion. The Duffle Blog focuses exclusively on the US Military, and the Department of Defense. I have regularly posted articles from the Duffle Blog to my Facebook page. These articles are usually irreverent, often crude, and always funny. In three years of posting them I have not experienced one person taking offense – not one. And then, with the posting of this Duffle Blog article last week, the subculture of CrossFit set in…

Here’s a quote from one email I received just minutes after posting the article: “I don’t get you Roy. You criticize CrossFit yet you don’t even do it. CrossFit has changed my life. Maybe saved my life. I’m disappointed in you as a trainer.”

An excerpt from another email:

“Those who can do. Those who can’t teach. You’re jealously is obvious. You wish you could.”

Those are just samples of how some people responded to my CrossFit bashing. Okay, this is a good place to interject this thought; I DID NO CROSSFIT BASHING! I simply posted a satirical article poking fun at the US military – not CrossFit. And that underscores my point; that the very nature of CrossFit has become a fundamentalist cause, to the point where people involved with it feel they are above satire or criticism, and seem to be too often on the defensive – or offensive.

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 You can’t spell warrior without war…

In recent years I have seen many diehard CrossFit warriors take their subculture too seriously, in a fundamentalist kind of way. In doing so, they often disrespect, and under appreciate the fitness values of nonparticipants. Anyone who exists in the immediate periphery of CrossFit has likely seen evidence of this in social media.

That’s where CrossFit ultimately breaks down in my opinion; not in the ABCs of the workouts so much, but in its own projection of itself. There seems to be an almost universal smugness, and lack of social decorum throughout the subculture. Often it seems practitioners talk about CrossFit as if it is the end-all for all things fitness, and that no fitness genre, fitness ideal, or practitioner outside of CrossFit are valid, or have anything to offer – unless of course they involve the Spartan Race or Paleo eating.

What resonates for me deepest though, is that those who often tout it the most, are relatively new to the subculture, and to the ideal of exercise itself. These are people in the group who could not explain the cross bridging principle of muscular action any more than they could explain protein synthesis, or even tell me what the eccentric phase of an exercise is. Sadly, there are many newbie CrossFit coaches who could not explain those things.

I see a haunting similarity between the religious fundamentalism of the Abrahamic traditions, and the exercise fundamentalism of the CrossFit subculture in the way it is both excessively proselytized, and defended. Or more succinctly, as religious fundamentalists each believe their tradition has the exclusive rights to being right, it now seems CrossFit thinks it resides highest in the pantheon above all things fitness.

 I’ll state clearly that I see value in all forms exercise being practiced safely, and mindfully. I also see utility in the communities like-minded exercise enthusiasts create. I have no doubt that thousands of CrossFit practitioners benefit from, appreciate, and respect their endeavor. As a collective though, it seems they have some growing up to do. Be well… rc

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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’s this trippy little nugget from Bad Liquor Pond.  Enjoy!

This, I Believe…

Christ-miss…

December 25th, 2013, Christmas day.  I was blessed to have been invited to spend time with my daughter, and her mother on Christmas Eve; to stay the night and to wake up with them on Christmas morning.  We shared good food, laughter, and created memories.  To me, that is what Christmas is about – regardless of faith.  I am now back home, in a house which now seems far too big.  I am alone with my dog, and my thoughts.

Like many secular Americans I still appreciate, and take time out for Christmas.  I embrace it as a holiday of both internal and, external peace.  I get to step outside the flow of the world, if only for a day.  A sort of, world peace day.  Christmas day, save the occasional school shooting day or profound natural disaster day, is the only day of the year I feel connected with my fellow man in a way which helps me feel good about my species.  The inevitability though, of religious argument this time of year, if not religious confrontation, is a given.

or

North of Coos Bay, August 2010. It felt like a doorway into another dimension…

Baby overboard…

Several days ago I explained to a friend that I was excited to be celebrating Christmas with my daughter, and her mother.  My friend was quick to suggest that we would be spending “just another day” together.  Meaning that, unless we had planned to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a dogmatic way, we would not actually be celebrating Christmas. I strongly disagreed, though I did understand the foundation for his argument, probably far better than he did.

I suggested that Christmas means different things to different people, and that to me Christmas represents a time of family, of giving, and of peace – regardless of faith.  My friend accepted my reply as an insult to the birth of Jesus, and did not stop short of attempting to sell me on the ideal of a conversion in an, it’s never too late kind of way.  I was left with the feeling that an unnecessary judgment had been directed at me, and I was labeled a non-believer.

 Step back nonbeliever…

I am a believer though, and I have pity for anyone so ignorant as to doubt what I believe.  My beliefs exist to my core.  They are malleable to be certain, and as the winds and rains of a changing society reshape and redirect my life’s path, my beliefs may change as a result, but they remain imbedded, and are not for sale.  When somebody suggests to me that my beliefs require changing simply because they are not consistent with the beliefs of another, what they are telling me, in unmistakable words, is that they believe my very existence is invalid.

The only painting that has ever mattered to me...

The only painting that has ever mattered to me…

What I do believe…

I believe in absolute universal oneness – period.  That is, underlying everything that has ever happened, every person who has ever lived, all the things and people yet to happen, and in times, spaces, and dimensions which may parallel, crisscross, or piggy back on the very dimension from which I write this, that we are all interconnected.  I am you, you are me, and some day we may be that tree.  That ideal is my god, if not my God.  I believe I have a responsibility to live as such, which is why I’m usually the first to apologize, even if I’m first to pick the fight, because I believe that in fighting with you, I am fighting a part of me.

What may make this idea of oneness so challenging for others to accept, I believe, is that clearly in the here and now we are separated by tribes, borders, values, circumstances, and intentions.  In a word, individuality.  We fear losing our individuality.  It is negotiating these divisions though, in my opinion, that our individuality is cultivated – or not.  These divisions are where we are tested.  Of course all the answers to the test are located in the back of the book, and we don’t get to see what’s in the back of the book in this lifetime.  We choose our answers based on faith.  I’ll choose my answers based on my faith, and not somebody else’s.

World peace day…

I believe that a successful future for mankind is absolutely dependent on religious tolerance, and plurality.  That if we are to ever get humanity right in the head, we must to first get good with human acceptance.  That is my belief.  I would gladly accept a painful eternal death over separating myself from that belief in favor of another’s dogmatic stance.

How I feel when somebody attempts to cast their beliefs on me...

How I feel when somebody attempts to cast their beliefs on me…

There is no one day though, not yet, for people of all beliefs to put down those beliefs, put down weapons, put down agendas, and open up the boundaries and borders that we may experience this universal oneness – if only for a day.  Ah, but that is my belief, and may not be yours.  Until that day of world peace finally exists, I’ll just celebrate it on Christmas…  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Hint: It probably isn’t going to have anything to do with fitness  or exercise.  Oh, and there’s this from Tasmanian, Tane Emia-Moore. Enjoy…

On social cancers, building walls, and establising legitimacy…

No real cancer answer…

I have believed for some time that the future of humanity depends largely on religious tolerance.  I believe that through my very core.  To say the same thing from a less optimistic direction, it is my opinion that religious intolerance is a social cancer metastasizing, and preparing to deliver a slow and excruciating and death to mankind.

Of course the conundrum in that scenario is that humanity’s cancer can’t be treated or cured by a select few practitioners such as priests, popes, or prime ministers.  For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.  Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Cancer: Real pretty from the outside...

We can see this pattern unfolding in other areas of life as well – everyday, and all around us.  Divisions in nations, politics, the sciences, and social issues in the media are increasing as time expands.  Chasms extend.  Harder and faster lines are being drawn as cultures and subcultures push further apart, and shore themselves into deeper isolation.  As these divisions become wider, the walls separating them become more important to those behind the walls.

Let’s face it, we just need somebody to fear – or somebody to hate…

Chasms in lesser places…

There is an increasing divisiveness in the fitness communities as well. We have clean eating vs. IIFYM, Yoga vs. Pilates, Paleo eating vs. Mediterranean eating, barefoot running vs. ultra-stabilizing shoes, P90x vs. Tai Chi, and CrossFit vs. the gym on the corner.  Of course, these are just light examples of such divisions.  Hard and fast lines are being drawn, walls are being built, and unwitting insurgents are being bread by way of the social media with each new week, and with each new trend.

Think about it: the ways that fitness factions use their constituencies, information, and the media to increasingly establish their legitimacy is not too different from the ways religions, nations, and causes use their constituencies, information, and the media to establish their legitimacy.  There is a blurry line though, between establishing legitimacy, and creating isolation.  Just look at around…

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”

Oh, and when you’re done, can we please recycle the materials so we can build a new wall in Gaza, or in Texas…?

We'll teach those barefoot runners who's in charge!"  And I wouldn't want my sister to marry one...

In fitness subcultures, unlike in national or religious identities, loose borders are first established by the followers of organic trends such as barefoot running.  As an organic trend catches on and increases, speculators identify the trends and see them as profit centers.  They then seek to take control of those borders, redraw them, and depend on those who initially carved them out organically, to take protect them.  The followers of the organic trend have then become followers of a corporate trend, and the organic subculture dissipates in favor of a for-profit trend. Then again, maybe that is how happens in states, nations, and faiths…

The leaders of fitness business trends don’t scare me as much as the foot-soldiers who guard these borders do.  The followers, or devotees, of many modern fitness movements are the militia of these fitness factions.  Like other militias, these people often don’t even understand the flexibility of the borders they strive to protect, yet they make the most noise, and throw the first gas cocktails when feeling threatened.  Many aren’t too willing to try and understand the other factions.  Hope fades in fitness, as it does in Gaza.

“For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.”

Getting good with groups…

There must be some reasons that life, in biological and in social terms, unfolds in groups rather than in singularities.  We have multiple languages, corporations, skin tones, species, radio stations, landscapes, faiths, and fitness pursuits.  Life varies.  There is simply no denying the divisions of life that we live among and between.

I teach a very specific style of strength training.  I see a great deal of utility in what I teach and I’m proud of how I teach it.  I don’t, however, see it as absolute.  Nor do I see what I do as a good fit for everyone.  It’s a good fit for those who see it as a good fit for them.  So too should be Judaism, Hinduism, and Catholicism.

An open mind is a dangerous thing, and must be stopped in our lifetime...

In this age of increasing divisiveness, I don’t find it surprising that people may not agree with one way of eating vs. another way, or of one way of exercise vs. another.  What does surprise me though, is how passionate people become about disagreeing with others.

Building walls and screaming through them is our new national identity.  It just seems to me that channeling all that passion into understanding others, even if we disagree with them, might be a better use of our energy.  I guess I would also like to see that applied to the way we view nations, faiths, and causes as well…  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from the Replacements.  Enjoy…

Religiously Fit…

I often use the analogy of faith when speaking about a fitness lifestyle.  Matters of faith are where we often make our most mindful decisions.  Fitness dogma may sound silly, but there is a definite parallel between religious faith, and the realization of fitness objectives.

To succeed in fulfilling a fitness agenda there must first be curiosity. After curiosity, there must be structure, leadership, ritual, and obedience. Finally, there must be belief; the belief that something better awaits a person for adhering to the observance of the ritual. Sounds like religion to me.

I actually do celebrate my fitness as my primary religion, and I’m not ashamed to say that because it’s not where my true faith lies.  Exercise is however, where I’m best connected to my creator and to my potential.  Exercise is where the inner me and the outer me come together.

If one is going to toss stone tablets, one will need strength, balance, and a strong core…

If one is going to toss stone tablets, one will need strength, balance, and a strong core…

Suggesting that exercise be compared to religion may be offensive to some people, as suggesting that Toy Poodle be the other white meat.  Still, to be whole is to be physically reverent, not just spiritually reverent.  Be well.  rc

Taking Back My Potential, Part IV…

 For me, the term religion has become a synonym for fulfillment – the fulfillment of the potential within me.  My Religion Of One, will only be as real as the fulfillment of my intentions.  What it comes down to, is simply waking up each day and staying committed to the act of merging what I want to do, with what I can do, and creating results, despite the distractions and temptations which surround me.  I want these past four essays, (Taking Back My Potential, parts I, II, and III) to be more than words, because they are more than words – they have become my essence.

Priorities, And The Art Of Letting Go

Among my more immediate goals are to write a book, to volunteer in my community, to work more, to read more, and most importantly, to better nurture the relationships which matter most in my life.  I believe I have the potential to fulfill all of the above.  But I can’t approach it without disconnecting from some other aspects of my life, and that will be hard. 

Some relationships will suffer, that I better nurture others.  Some aspects of my personal time will need to be amended, others eliminated altogether.  Time will need to be maximized, and there will definitely be some “doing without” in my life for the first time in years.  Even my fitness agenda is going to be significantly streamlined.  Every aspect of my life, but for a few relationships and my business, are subject to the chopping block.

Discipline, And The Act Of Change

What I have lacked has been discipline.  I have lived the last decade of my life at standing at the intersection of Just Getting By, and I Just Don’t Want It Bad Enough.  My priorities, relative to my potential, have been atrocious. Work has been a low priority.  Though I work hard, I play in equal portion and I have not maximized the potential of my business.  Sleep has been a low priority.  Though I go to bed at 8:30, I take my laptop with me and watch lectures on i-Tunes, trade emails, or mindlessly Facebook into the wee hours, only to net about 4-5 hours of sleep over a 8-9 hour period.  That behavior must stop. 

Using money properly has been among the lowest of priorities in my life; such as the $16,000 I have spent on i-Tunes over an 8 year period (the equivalent of a used Lexus).  There’s also the $200 per month I spend on wine and tequila, the $300 per year I spend on chewing gum, or the $500 per month I spend eating out.  Those I truly love, and who love me back as much or more, have been far too low a priority; I need to reach out more. 

The forces at the heart of this lack of fulfillment have been laziness and selfishness.  That may seem harsh and excessively self-critical, but if the assertions in a prior paragraph is true, that I do have the potential to write a book, grow my business, and serve more in my community, then why have they not been fulfilled…?  Of course that is rhetorical, but I know the answer.

The Religions That Bind

So how have I made this stretch, within four essays, from building my own religion to simply fulfilling my own potential…?  Because fulfilling my potential has taken its place in the pantheon of my polytheistic madness, alongside exercise, love, creativity, and music, as one of my religions of choice – and I mean that in the most literal use of that term.   When my daughter was once asked by a friend, “What does your dad do for a living?”  She replied, “I don’t know, I think he’s just busy being Roy Cohen…” Indeed, and here I go again.

I say often that in a Mad Max world, I like my odds.  I have never been much of a church or synagogue guy.  Not because I don’t appreciate their value in society, but because I’m hard-wired to go it alone – it’s just always been that way.  I’m just a self-taught kinda guy, finally willing to admit that my religion too, must be self-taught.  And though I may be picking and choosing from the tenets of others, and may have ended up with a derivative faith, as Christianity is derivative of Judaism, at the end of the day, my faith is my faith and my brand is my brand, and they are both very dear to me.

When I look closely at those who have most inspired me, and they are many, among their common threads are the abilities to avoid distraction, to stay on task, and that they have been largely self-taught in the areas where they excel.  And for those who may wish to criticize me for taking this path, because the God you suggest is the real God was here before any of us, then wouldn’t he too have been self taught…?  And if that God did create me in his own image, then perhaps being self taught is one plausible direction for the discovery of truth…  Be well.  rc

Comments are closed this week, but feel free to drop me a line…

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Please check back in two weeks, for a new article – subject TBD.  Oh, and there is this from  James McMurtry.  Enjoy…