The Great Peace…

One of my favorite compiled statistics from Steven Pinker’s, Better Angels Of Our Nature is this…

If you were born the day World War I began, and died the day World War II ended, you lived in the most violent period in human history.

However, if we extend that window just a single year on either side – if you were born 1 year before the start of World War I, and died just 1 year after the end of World War II, despite the millions of deaths from both wars, you would have still lived in the most peaceful time in human history.

That’s how peaceful we had become as a species by the mid-20th century; that the years prior to, and post the two World Wars were such a time of peace, that it adjusts and offsets the skew of the two greatest tragedies of that period.


It’s easy to think we live in the most violent time on earth. This is part of why I believe the biggest crisis we face today is the crisis of perception – most people believe we live in extremely violent times.

Most people believe what they see, read, or hear – so long as that’s what they wish to believe, this included.

Historians though, social scientists, and even amateur body counters agree, we are living in the most peaceful time in human history. We have bounces, but the direction is clear… Jhciacb


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 the child Elvis never knew he had, Dale Watson.  Enjoy…


Bombs away…

I first wrote this back in March for my Contemplative Fitness Facebook page.  It’s been a heavy week of bombing here at Camp Pendleton, not far from my back door.  I absolutely support these activities, though I always hope the exercises of war will only be played out when necessary, and hopefully not at all. 

When I begin to feel these concussions though, as I have been feeling them this past week, I get reflective, and concerned…

Bombs away…

When I was young I read the following sentence by Bill Dobbins in an article published in Muscle Builder And Power magazine:

“Watching Frank Zane train, his concentration is so severe that one gets the impression a bomb could go off in the gym, and Zane would neither let go the bar, nor lose his concentration.”

As a 15 year old, that statement left an impression on me that would be both formative, and long-lasting in my approach to strength training.

I have always prided myself on my ability to maintain a high level of concentration during an exercise – even if bombs were to go off around me.

Funny, now they actually do.

I live not far from the back gate of The Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. The explosions I hear daily can be so concussive that my windows can rattle, the mirrors shake, and occasionally the pictures on my walls tilt to one side.

When this happens during a workout I never miss a beat. I don’t lose focus. I will continue until my set is complete. My concentration is so severe that people in China can feel my intensity.

Despite this, my mind does drift some when I hear, and feel the bombs.

As I hear the explosions in the distance, and feel my walls rattle, I can’t help but think about the Marines firing those weapons – of where they have been, what they have seen, and if they will use explosives again in a genuine scenario.

On the days when the bomb’s concussions are as severe as my own concentration, and make the walls shake, my mind drifts even further in-between sets.

I wonder; what must it feel like to be a mindful fitness enthusiast, innocently working out in a gym in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, or anywhere else, and feel bombs exploding during the workout.

Would a person wonder, while doing arm curls, is their mother ok…? Are their friends ok…? Will they be ok…?

I wonder how quickly someone living exact that scenario might let go the bar, duck, and cover, biceps be damned.

Yes, I can hear a bomb go off and my lat-pulldowns will continue until the very last rep is completed. In-between sets though, my mind does wander… 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 North Mississippi All Stars.  Enjoy…

The Long Shadow Of War…

The Convoy

My fitness studio faces onto East Mission Road, in Fallbrook, California.  At one end of Fallbrook, lies the back gate of Camp Pendleton; a Marine Base where Marines train to, among other things, blow things up and to kill.  I’m actually ok with that – the training of how to properly blow up and kill, we need that – just in case.  The actual acts of blowing up and killing, I have mixed feelings on, but I’m not so naïve as to deny the utility of force.

About 90 minutes from Fallbrook is Twentynine Palms, California where there is another base, and another area where Marines train to blow things up and to kill.  From the vantage point of my studio windows, all day long I see Marines transporting their artillery, mobile weapons, vehicles and tanks of all sizes, from Fallbrook to Twentynine Palms and back for training exercises.  Like good Marines, they do it convoy style.

With essentially one road in and out of Fallbrook, getting caught in or behind a convoy might make for some grumpy commuters, though nobody complains too much about it – there is great deal of respect for our Marines here.  I’ll suggest these days that folks caught in one of these convoys are probably more humbled than frustrated.  There is always a good bit of honking, waving, and offering of the thumbs-up sign to show support for our troops.

A New Toy For Uncle Hulka

One type of vehicle which I have seen going back and forth a lot lately is the LAV25 (Light Assault Vehicle).  The LAV25 is piloted by an exposed driver behind a small windshield at the lower front of the vehicle.  Several other crewmen also ride exposed, stationed at the top of the vehicle, with several more inside.  The new Chevy Camaro be damned, the LAV25 looks to me to be “the most powerful convertible on the road”.


It must be a great relief to the crewmen to ride on one of these through the gorgeous aesthetic of the Fallbrook hills, and be in a place of peace.  A far cry I reckon, from the stress of turning a corner in Iraq or Afghanistan, and not knowing what apocalyptic mayhem might be waiting on the other side.  Though I enjoy watching these vehicles and these men travel back and forth, it forces me daily to take a moment and contemplate the sacrifices they and their families have made – regardless of my feelings on imperial war.

I often marvel at these vehicles as well as the larger, scarier killing machines for their size, their power, their rugged off road capabilities, and of course, their ability to destroy.  But in a moment this morning that “marvel” turned to fright as I remembered that these aren’t just training vehicles and weapons.  These vehicles have been beyond Fallbrook and Twentynine Palms – far beyond.  That at some point, most of these vehicles I see from day to day have probably been used in war – to kill and to blow things up, and that men might have died on or in the very vehicles that I marvel at as they drive by my gym.

I wondered as I watched several pass by this morning, was there once human blood and guts and body parts strewn across the camouflage surface, and subsequently squeegeed away with some soap and water from the very deck I was looking at…? Where there shots fired by those very men stationed at the top of that vehicle, into a crowd of combatants, or worse yet – into a crowd of civilians…?  These vehicles began to cast a shadow on me and my gym door – the shadow of a war reaching 8,000 miles away.

Something’s In The Air, And Over The Hill Too

It happens when I look up too; the instruments of war appear.  In addition to the convoys rumbling through town, Fallbrook locals see attack, survey, and supply helicopters flying overhead all day long.  We hear explosions from the heavy artillery firing range on the other side of the hills concuss to the point of rattling the windows and even shaking pictures on the walls – sometimes for hours at a time, and into the night.  It’s like living in a war zone but we locals all wear the immunity necklace.

Tanks on the roads.  Choppers in the air.  Explosions heard into the night.  I’m lucky, I live in a beautiful area, surrounded by good people, and I have plenty of anything – including freedom, and with no fear for my safety when I see the machines of war.  These machines though, they have seen other streets and other airspace, where the people who have seen them have feared them, and for good reason.  The people who have seen these machines on their streets and over their air 8,000 miles away just hoped for the best – or dropped to their knees and prayed.  And at the end of the day, I know these machines have closed their ears to those hopes and to those prayers, and just done their job.

It’s hard to live in Fallbrook without seeing – without feeling the shadow of war cast over our town – it’s everywhere we look.  I wonder on this day, what machines out there will ever cast a shadow of peace…?  Be well.  rc

Oh, and there is this from Daniel Lanois.  Enjoy…