You cannot tell whether a person is good or bad by his vicissitudes in life. Good and bad fortunes are matters of fate. Good and bad actions are Man’s Way. – Hagakure
Three serious surgeries in four months — the dude faced it all, head-on, like a champ. And he never complained once. My brother is my frickin’ hero.
Honestly, I know you really don’t give a shit about my brother’s lot in life. Most people read blogs just to acquire very specific information — learn a new healthy recipe or exercise, figure out just the right amount of carbs to eat for fat loss, hacks to add zeros to your bank accounts or followers to your fan base, etc.
It’s a greet and tweet-style world these days baby. You want to get in, grab the goods, get out, and get on with your life. I get it man.
Sometimes when I’m reading a fitness blog and the author goes off on a tangent (like I am about to do today) about their personal philosophy, life lessons, role models, or worldviews, I start thinking to myself, “Shut the hell up already and just tell me how many grams of protein to eat to pack on more muscle. Go write about your feelings in a fucking journal Angela Landsbury.”
Hahahaha…ironic coming from me, huh, the master of philosophy infused fitness and long-winded posts? But I at least know the truth — most people online these days, including myself, think our opinions matter way more than they actually do.
The democratization of media platforms has created an illusion that we’re all mini-celebrities living in our own reality shows. Well, as we know, regardless of the ratings, most reality shows are full of useless crap. For the most part, they are really just about ego building, ego projection, or ego masturbation for the self-proclaimed “stars”.
But then again…
I also think that sometimes being an open book about pretty much everything, and speaking (or writing) about whatever is on your mind at that moment in time, without a filter, is one of the best ways to help those around you. I mean with most content these days being pre-scripted with a hidden agenda, that rawness is one of the few places where some real value remains.
So it’s kind of a Catch 22 for me as a writer. Should I share what’s on my mind from time to time based on my life experiences, or never drift from the 6-pack script?
I don’t know man. I’d rather roll with the randomness of it all then try to fit everything into some fake online persona or PR-crafted brand. So sometimes I favor an artist’s mentality — puke some stuff up from the gut and then just see where it goes.
This is one of those posts. And I respect your time enough to forewarn you of that.
But that’s the beauty of blogs. We both win regardless.
Whether its the straightforward strategies or the extra stuff once in a while, you get to decide whether you want to click away to something else (keep that hippie bullshit to yourself homeboy) or continue on because the topic for the day sounds relevant to what you got going on in your life.
As a writer, I get to ensure that the blog stays an authentic expression of who I am, and what I’m passionate about. And right now, at this very moment in time, I’m most passionate about motivating people to stop fucking complaining about everything, and to start taking action about whatever it is that they are constantly complaining about.
Because baby, I just can’t take it anymore.
THE BEST LESSONS COME FROM THOSE WHO LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know…The Master doesn’t talk. He acts…He teaches without teaching. – Tao Te Ching
There are plenty of pontificating gurus that talk one way, but live another. That’s why their advice sounds good in theory, but falls flat in the real world. If you constantly follow frauds, you might get that “rah-rah” feeling once in a while, but most likely will keep getting nowhere with your personal growth or goals.
I’ve always learned the most from people who live a certain way and lead by example. They take action and just do what they do infinitely more than they talk about it. They are the grinders, not the attention grabbers. They prefer the solitude of the process more so than any praise that comes from the glorification of it.
But ironically and unfortunately for the rest of us, these types of people are rarely writers, coaches, teachers, or blog posters. They don’t like theorizing about strategies. They don’t care to commercialize them. They are too busy living them.
If you want to learn from these rare people, the only option is the old school method of apprenticeship. You just spend as much time with them as they will allow, and absorb what you can along the way.
Much lesser men like me might write about these people from time to time, and attempt to translate lessons from the way they live into some actionable strategies. That’s what I am trying to do with this post.
It’s an honorable task for a hero’s sidekick I think. Otherwise, those valuable lessons would be lost amongst the modern sea of bullshit artists. At least with some strategies that have passed the real world effectiveness test, the rest of us get to try to do the best we can with them.
A WALK TO REMEMBER
What IS is more important than WHAT SHOULD BE. Too many people are looking at “what is” from a position of thinking “what should be”. — Bruce Lee.
One such glorious hero I’ve been lucky enough to learn from is Chaz Michaels Michaels. But that’s mainly in the physique, performance sports, and performance art realms…
Since this is a post about personal philosophy and living life a certain way, I want to tell you about another dude I’ve been lucky enough to learn from — my brother.
You don’t need to know the details, but suffice it to say that my brother was born with a variety of serious medical conditions — so much so that he had over a dozen surgeries by the time he was 18. The hospital was a second home for him as a kid.
At my mom’s funeral, my brother told us a story that he had never told us before. It has been stuck in my head ever since. That was almost 18 months ago.
He told the story about how one night he was up late in the hospital after one of his surgeries, complaining away, and asking questions like, “why me, why me?”
My mom took his hands and told him that it was OK to be angry, it was OK to cry, and it was OK to be scared. But the one thing she didn’t want to hear from him was a bunch of whining and complaining.
My mom then took him over and walked him through the children’s cancer wing. My brother saw kids his own age battling not just to get normal physiological processes functioning like he was. They were battling for their very lives.
“Someone, somewhere, always has it way worse than you do son. So quit fucking complaining.”
Now I doubt she said that to him in that situation, when he was a kid. But I guarantee that’s how Ol’ Patty would say it to him, me, you, or anyone else within earshot, right now, if she were still around.
My brother went on to say that was the one lesson he learned from our mom that he would remember forever.
And it’s something I’ve learned from him. He never actually talked about that until the funeral. But he’s lived that lesson every day of his life, ever since I can remember. And in the end, the way you live is the post powerful and impactful teacher to those around you. And that’s regardless of whether you are setting a good or bad example.
We all knew about my brother’s unique health conditions growing up. As unfair as they were for any kid to have to deal with, I often wondered why I never heard him complain about anything. Ever. Not even once! He just faced everything head-on, and persevered through whatever came his way.
SOME LESSONS LAST A LIFETIME
Courage is gritting one’s teeth; it is simply doing that and pushing ahead, paying no attention to the circumstances. — Hagakure.
Unfortunately, complications from my brother’s hereditary issues have resurfaced. And as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, he has recently undergone 3 surgeries in the last 4 months in an attempt to get important physiological processes functioning properly again.
I’ve been spending more time with my brother throughout, and as a result we have re-kindled the student/teacher apprenticeship of our childhood.
And I needed it man. Being with my brother made me realize I had developed some bad habits living in the Silicon Bay in America Y2K.
Most despicably, I had become an entitled complainer, complaining about everything. This or that happened. I deserved this or that. Such and such is unfair and unjust, I want what so and so has without actually working for it, etc.
Watching my brother deal with his situation, without complaining, was the bitch slap in the face I needed. I originally thought I was hanging out more to help him. But I soon realized despite his situation, it was really the way it always has been — he was the one helping me infinitely more, by just living a certain way.
Now it’s not like my bro is one of those happy-go-lucky, positive talk people that you know is more fucked up than anyone. “Hey, I just had 3 surgeries and I feel fantastic. Everything happens for a reason because life is all about flowers and sunshine. Lets go get a snow cone.”
I mean he would tell it like it is if you asked, “I’m in a lot of pain. Its like a 9.” “Yeah dude, I feel awful. It sucks.” “I don’t know if I can take another surgery. The body can only bounce back so many times.” Etc.
But the difference between most people these days is that his words were few and far between a ton of action. My brother did what he needed to do on a daily basis to get through. He kept putting one foot in front of the other and walking on, instead of whining on and on. That’s what he’s always done.
I meant it when I said it – my brother is my hero. Now I know he’s just a piece of shit to you (because you don’t know him, so why the hell would you care?). Regardless, maybe his story and style will help you with whatever challenges or adversity you are facing in your own life. The main lesson is this…
TAKE ACTION MORE THAN COMPLAIN
It is not what happens that counts. It is how you react. Your mental attitude determines what you make of it, either a stepping stone or stumbling block. – Bruce Lee
The Land of Opportunity has become The Land of Entitlement. We’ve become a bunch of whiners, a bunch of complainers these days. Online, in the coffee shop, at work, etc. — bitching and moaning about every little thing — the disease is everywhere. The worst part is it is highly contagious. It’s gone airborne.
The tough love truth is that every second that you waste complaining about something is one that you could have used to make a change. And no one ever got anywhere, or improved their situation, by complaining. It is wasted effort.
It’s easy to question one’s fate in any aspect of life, especially when it’s not going your way. That is the natural reaction and certainly understandable. For the most part, however, it’s wasted energy.
We can’t change the challenges that life has put in front of us. We can feel sorry for ourselves. We can wish our situation were different. But the hand that has been dealt is the hand that has been dealt.
In the end, you gotta play the game with what you’ve got. You can waste precious time focusing on what you can’t control, and then just fold. Or you can focus on the moves that you actually can make, take some bold actions, and make a play at winning the game.
So put one foot in front of the other, walk on, and make a difference. Don’t bitch, and don’t wait around for a savior to come solve all of your problems for you. Do your best to solve them for yourself.
Thanks brother for teaching me this lesson, and allowing me to share it with my friends here. It has helped me more than you could ever know. And I hope this random rant ultimately helps a few of you too.
THE (QUIT) BITCHING SUMMARY
When you understand what I am telling you, apply what you have learned to your everyday life…I am not interested with your talk about my ideas. I am more interested in your applying them to your life. ~Miyamoto Musashi
- There is always someone who has it way better than you, and there is always someone who has it way worse than you. Who gives a shit? Either way, it doesn’t effect what you need to do to get through your own struggles, and improve your own situation.
- So stop fucking complaining already (that’s from my mama).
- Instead, take action, and start changing the situation that you are complaining about. Sure, we all gotta let shit out from time-to-time. But I believe it should be at least a 3:1 action-to-bitching ratio.
- Most importantly, don’t Just Read or Talk About It. Just Do It.
- And finally, don’t expect a pat on the back. The true reward is realizing that you are the master of your own ship, no matter how rough or smooth the sea can be sometimes.