My dad passed away yesterday at the age of 90 after a full and rich life. He was a pioneer of sorts. He was born into poverty on a little farm in Oklahoma but his parents stressed education, self-reliance and made him believe he could reach for lofty goals. He set his sights on medicine and worked until he could make that dream a reality. At the age of 40, he became a physician and started his medical practice. Over the next several decades, he helped deliver over 7000 babies into the world, including me.
My dad always thought my interest in the gym was strange. He couldn’t believe I paid to workout…to do physical labor. He said it was ridiculous, that if I wanted to work, I should chop wood or dig post holes or fix fences. He thought that I should do something useful instead of spending money to pick up heavy things and put them down. That made me laugh since I grew up in the heart of San Francisco and I just didn’t have many opportunities to bale hay or slop hogs.
When I was 28 my mother died of cancer. I used to go over to my parent’s house and keep her company. I stayed on weekends and toward the end I just stayed there full-time. It’s a weird thing, waiting for death, knowing it’s imminent but not knowing when it will arrive. We spent a lot of time watching movies and one night I rented Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life . In this film there was a scene where death came to the door. Something about the warm September night, the depiction of the Grim Reaper and maybe, just maybe the awful white wine out of the box that my mom enjoyed in those last weeks made us burst out laughing. It was one of the best laughs I ever had and probably the best we ever shared.
Indeed, Death comes for us all, pauper and king alike. The thing we get to decide is how we’ll behave during the part in the middle. The part that is now. The gym is a regular part of my days and I’m happy that it’s so. Bodybuilding teaches so many lessons…lessons in patience, perseverance, commitment and honest effort. It teaches you to control yourself, to strengthen your mind and to use it to accomplish a goal. It builds and reinforces so many of the qualities that you must have to be successful in your greater environment. It’s a practice, a discipline and the benefits echo into all the other areas of life…so although I don’t shovel rock or muck stalls…I think I’m doing just fine.
Today is the first day of spring. We’ve moved out of the winter and into the season of fresh, new life. Each day we open our eyes in the world we have renewed possibility and opportunity. May all your days forward be happy and well spent…