Some people are puddles, some people are rocks, and most people fall somewhere towards one of these two extremes. The goal as far as I can see is to find our way towards the middle, the center. Our muscles require tone of their own and balance with their opposites. Balance resonates for me physically, spiritually and emotionally; the search for the middle ground is to find our place in the flow of energy and hopefully the solidity to keep us grounded through a life that seeks to pull us in all directions away from the center.

Solidity is the guide that can carry us to a ripe old age but it isn’t easy to come by if you are not predisposed to it. As an adult I have always had dogs; they have always been a big part of my life. They have helped to keep me somewhat healthy because of my commitment to walk and run them extensively. Last year I took my dog Ollie to the vet for a check-up and she ran her hands alongside his flanks and commented on the quality of his muscle tone and I replied that I run him a lot. Her comeback to that was that everybody says that but the muscles don’t lie.

We need to be solid and so few of us are. I got serious about building core balance about ten years ago and that vet visit made clear that a responsibility I had always felt towards my dogs, I never applied to myself before I turned forty. We will not get solid by osmosis but the journey is easier for some than others; some people are simply born stronger than others. Whether it is a function of heredity or what, I am not sure exactly, but strong is not the same as solid. My father never exercised nor did a day’s labor yet he was strong like bull. I too am strong for no apparent reason since I barely work out in a strength building fashion.

I got solid in my forties and my father never made that happen for himself. When he got older his strength stop serving him and his lack of muscle came to haunt him. This is a conundrum that affects a lot of people as they age. One day in a class I was throwing this rap about strength and I said that if you come from Eastern European peasantry as I did you were likely to be strong. Someone asked what kind of person would be weak and I was flummoxed. The best I could come up with was academics; maybe if you came from a long line of academics who read books instead of tilled fields you would be weak but that could be a reach.

I have written before that I love my job because I get to watch weak people get strong if they invest in the challenge. It is such a gratifying thing to watch solidity take hold and serve students. It is equally painful to watch people come to work with me who are not ready to get solid. For whatever reason, the work isn’t for everyone but if you can prioritize solidity for yourself you won’t regret it.


It is Never Too Late to Learn
Sunday Morning Music: Hans Chew and the Boys