It’s interesting to reflect on the most formative moments of our lives. They also seem to come unexpectedly and rarely with the pomp and ceremony that we feel that they should. Small moments that escalate into big changes, a new theme building softly in the background, the sensation of a soft breeze coming at just the right time to cool our bodies and warm our senses. These are not the grand struggles of the soul that you read about or see performed, these instances are almost perfectly normal save for the upheaval they leave in their wake.
It is also of note that these formative moments can come both from the great and pleasant events of our lives, as well as the vile, dark and cruel vicissitudes of fate. What shapes us, changes us, makes us into what we become isn’t always the sweetest slice of pie, and these horrid and horrifying transgressions are no less important to us as anything else. It’s an inescapable fact that we do not lead flawless existences.
And, even as I reflect on these darker parts of my history and see how they lead me here, even though these points of misery shaped me and molded me into who I am today, I find myself unable to be thankful for them, which I am sure is only right.
I reject the idea that “everything is for the best” not on the grounds that I think the world is a tragic place, but because it is a place that has such great tragedy. I am made more empathetic for the abuses that have happened in my life, but that doesn’t make the abuses any less abhorrent. I tolerant of others only for the sheer number of times I have craved that tolerance from others while only trying to be myself. I carry with me patience and drive and trust, and also fear, self doubt and anxiety. I know that the great goods are only possible because great evils exist as well, but that doesn’t make me happy or grateful for the evil done to me, or to those around me.
Perhaps the most that can be said of these negative moments is that they are necessary. I can’t dispute that without them I wouldn’t be who I am today, but they still are stains on my past. Simply because something is necessary doesn’t make it good or even acceptable. Patients with an injured limb need to have it amputated, but this necessity isn’t good to anyone’s eyes. We need to eat, even when doing so might bankrupt us. These needs that we have are often our greatest limitations.
I have read of beliefs where desire is the great suffering that is inflicted upon us, but desire has led to some of the best and brightest moments of my life, desire has helped me push through some of the worst events that I’ve experienced. Desire is the ambition to be happy. When we desire something it gives us purpose and intent, it makes us feel as though we have something to hope for, something to aspire to. The desire to get better has helped me recover from the necessities in my life. The desire to be happy has pushed me to mitigate the necessities of my past until they are manageable.
Desire becomes a vice when it corrupts itself into greed, avarice or arrogance. Desires when kept private become selfish. We open ourselves to the aspirational spirits of others when we share and make social the desires in our lives. It becomes a group endeavor to see each other happy and successful, when we build the networks to create the means to reduce the necessities we all experience.
I have experienced first hand the strength I’ve seemed to generate for people simply by openly embracing this desire to be a bodybuilder. I’ve had people tell me that It’s inspired them to find their own new paths and delights in life. I feel a great sense of achievement just in having helped people feel more passionate about what they want to do.
I suppose what I’m driving at is that as I reflect on my life, it seems that the best moments were things that I feel like I should feel guilty for wasting time on, and the worst were stark necessities that I’m told I should take pride in for getting through. I can’t in good conscience continue to believe that I should feel bad for being who I am when I can bring so much joy to people simply by pursuing a passion.
Photo: me back in the gym for the first time after two weeks of forced rest following from having pulled my upper back.