Eastern philosophy says that doing the right thing involves two separate steps – having the right view or thought, and having the right intention. Much of the latter comes down to motivation, that inner drive and rationale that takes a thought to an idea to an action, creating the habits in our lives. We at Old Man Strength hold that training over 35, and 40, and 50, requires a whole different level of intention and motivation than training when young, and earns you a whole different level of respect.
So let’s talk about intention for a moment. When we were young, it didn’t take much to have a standard level of mobility, to be strong enough to exert and defend ourselves, to feel limber enough to be able and confident in our movements, and to feel good. Much of the motivation for training therefore came from outside, from those around us, from the sports we played, the people we competed against, and the ideals thrust upon us by the outside world in relation to how we should look, feel, play, compete, win, lose and be. When we trained, often we trained to beat someone or something specific – a person, a time, a weight, an ideal. This externalising and idealisation reflected a youthful attraction to the idea of self – the attachment of identity to ideals outside ourselves, and comparisons and competition which appealed at those ages. Our thoughts were to be strong, and fast, and powerful. Our motivation was relativity. When we won, we were better people, more dominant, stronger, faster, quicker.
Things of course change over time. For many of us, children place the joint burdens of removing time from us, and requiring introspection as we teach them how to be in the world. We stop training, not because we want to – in fact, we know we should – but because the opportunity cost of training means no time with the family; and we start to answer questions from our children in a spirit of compassion, understanding and goodness. We want them to feel ok when they don’t win, we want them to feel like they should include everyone, and when they become teenagers we want them to ignore the fashion tips towards starvation and dangerous self-consciousness. In short, we want them to be happy with themselves, even when the outside world rates them down in some way.
Over time, both our bodies and our mindsets shift. We lose the tone and the fitness we had, we gain pounds, and when we start to look inside ourselves for our old motivation, its less than it was. We can’t find an enemy we want to battle, a movie star or an athlete we want to be, or a life we want to emulate. We get injured more easily and we need to regroup and rehab. Our mindsets and our lives have changed.
Starting the journey towards Old Man Strength starts when you wake up to the fact that while thought remains the same – being strong, being fit, being lean – the intention and motivation needs to change from relative to absolute. For the vast majority of us, there will be no enemies to vanquish, no sand will be kicked in our face, and no challenge will be made to our masculinity. The challenge lies within, with the answer to simple questions – who and what do you want to be, what do you expect from yourself, and how long do you want to live? Stronger, fitter people live longer, live better, and enjoy a quality of life which is far beyond that of those who never adjust to this new motivation and the lack of external enemies to beat down. Part of this stems from the fact that beating yourself – getting yourself out of bed when the soreness hits, without the motivation of competition or friends to train with, and lifting, crossfitting, rolling, boxing in the garage, the gym, in your room or in the local park – is harder than beating anyone or anything external. Because at the end of the day, if you are ten, twenty or fifty kilos over where you want to be, nobody is going to call you on that except you. And any older person will tell you that dying at 90 is better than dying at 60, and that maintaining your health is a competition between you and you.
Getting motivated is no harder than seeing the world as it truly is. Weak people die. They wither, they give up, they get walked over. To those who start the journey, maintain the journey, and those that help others remain on the journey, to old man strength, you have our respect and that of the whole OMS community. The scores don’t matter, the struggle does. So pull on the shirt or the rashie, represent and join the community of strong old men. Roll for the roll, lift for the strength, embrace the values of the community, and take life on the front foot.
At the end of the day, our bodies are impermanent. Eventually, all we will have is the self-respect, the strength of our mind, and our self-respect, all of which come from only one source – ourselves. Join us. Never give up.