The Right Hand Path 

by Machine

For what seemed like an instant, a long time ago, I aspired to be preeminent in the world of bodybuilding. Truthfully, all I really wanted was to do something rarely done by any athlete. To step out there on that island and to say to the world, “Look… Look at what I created.” There is something that is almost artistic about the transformation of the human form through sweat and toil. I admit that I was seized by the rapture of all that possibility; I woke up everyday to the possibilities which were plenty regarding my bodybuilding fate. I worked as hard as anyone can imagine in carrying my goals to fruition, and I wouldn’t have dreamed of entertaining the possibility that it couldn’t happen. I was as driven as any man I have ever seen with regard to my physical development. I trained with almost religious zeal; I cared for my nutritional needs in the same manner, and I was as disciplined and consistent as a Franciscan Monk. I was truly devoted to learning my lifelong craft and to being the living representation of physical culture incarnate. And for a while, things were going very well, after I really got to know my body, I could weigh what I wanted to—275 then 305 then 315 then 335, etc. You can imagine how the world was opening up to me, I felt as strong as a charging bull elephant. I could perform all manner of physical feats of strength. Pressing dumbbells—100s then 120s then 150s, then ultimately 180s. Squatting 225 then 405 then 525 then 615 and on and on. Reality was becoming what I willed it to be and that felt unimaginably good.

But things didn’t work out quite as I had imagined they would, and the reasons it didn’t where as distressing as I could have imagined. But there is nothing in the world to be down about; I am alive and vitally engaged in the struggle each new day brings. But the most beautiful thing of all was the knowledge that the first test is always a test of your strength; and the next test is a test of your weakness. The reason I find that beautiful is both my strength and weakness have been tested and I am still here, still spitting venom, still pushing back. still telling the underdog that he must bite back. And best of all, I found the true joy that comes from helping people, helping anyone accomplish anything. Finding that I had all kinds of strengths I hadn’t showed the world until I was confronted by my own mortality. I began to understand that age old sage wisdom, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” That means that I am just as comfortable speaking to the board of directors, as I am with speaking to a group of inmates imprisoned for life, as I am to a group of kids playing ball in the park. That means that I find great utility in speaking plainly to people that I can reach on matters with which I have had experience. To give of oneself so fully that there is danger of becoming lost within the struggle and then learning that being lost is so close to being found, and earning the freedom from that knowledge to strive in the face of pain.

But having strength and knowledge comes with the terrible burden of giving people what they need in place of what they desire. So I try to have the strength to show people the truth about us all, that we are all flawed and imperfect, that our desires are fleeting, and that the champions among us are made not born. We all think we know exactly what it is that we want until something comes along to knock us on our ass. Know that as your desires are revealed to you, your strengths will be tested first, everything you are good at will be used against you. Know that as your strengths become your weaknesses, you will be tested without benefit of your armor; you will know what true weight is. I prided myself on fucking with gravity, on pushing the limits of my physiology, and on pressing past my internal and external limitations. That was my strength; and it was also my weakness.

Ask me if I would do it all again, and I’ll tell you that I would do it all again without even considering it for an instant. There were, and there still are, truly magical moments. Moments in which my world stopped turning, the breath in my lungs was hotter than fire, I spoke no words, I thought of nothing, I heard nothing, I saw myself as a mechanism of primal force, bent on surviving the test of the weight. And in those moments I became vision, I became reality, and I became hope. And still people ask me if I ever wished that things turned out differently; but this is who I am. This is the will I have come to forge from molten desire. And even when my desire to win was supplanted by my desire for mere survival, I never regretted one single moment of the life I chose, the circumstances I wrought, the fate I sealed, or the risks I have taken. Sure, I think about the things that people believe they have to do in order to be successful in this game and it saddens me… But never enough to sway my love for the purest thing I have ever known. One moment, one man, one desire, one will, one purpose and one chance to create a legacy that will outlast the very iron in your hand. So where will this twisted road end? I don’t have the slightest idea, and if my life’s tumultuous history has taught me anything, it’s that I will never give up a rep, I will never give up on a set, I will never abandon a battle plan, I will never give up on myself no matter how large the odds are stacked against me. I am living proof that it is better to be stubborn than talented. And when it comes time to fight, fuck, or hit the fence, my example dictates that you should look fate squarely in the eye, steel your nerves and load heavy, because you just might surprise yourself.

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