Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 298

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 298

I have a new book coming out, Attempts.
I tried to write about the things that come up most often in my podcasts, forums and Q and As. Much of the time, people ask questions that are truly “hands on,” but the rest of the time, they tend to focus on health, fitness, longevity, and, yes, Easy Strength.
So, I put together these ideas and concepts. It’s funny about Easy Strength: The more I explain it, the more confused some people get. It could be, like most of life’s great joys and sorrows, you have to experience it.
Now, I have to be careful. I don’t want to have Easy Strength considered in the same pantheon of love, marriage and parenthood (yet), but sometimes you have to go “all in” to understand something.
It’s hard, for example, to explain what it is like to hold a grandchild. I find teaching someone to do three sets of three far easier to explain.
Once you squat 315 for 30, 275 for 30 and 225 for 30 in one workout (I did this in June of 1979 and I will again as soon as I recover), it’s laughable to answer a question about “rest periods” after a set of concentration curls. When someone does an easy set of five in the incline bench press, how long does the rest period need to be?
Dunno. Not long? Enough?
I try to answer questions about goal setting (my opinion has changed a lot since I first started coaching goal setting in 1979), the basics of life and living (and everything else), and, of course, issues regarding lifting in the new work.
Tim Anderson helped out here, too, with his help with Original Strength and my work with the military. Tim’s work is intertwined with basic lifting and loaded carries in the Post Deployment Program. This was put together, with a lot of help from people who have been deployed for literally decades (off and on), to rebuild and realign someone who has been asked to do the near impossible.
I do my best to explain this rather straightforward “do this” program that is, as always, easier to do than explain.
I know there is a life lesson there.
I dedicate this new book to my brother, Phil. I have seen all of his kids a lot in the past year, and my great nieces and great nephews, too. His legacy is secure…not many people’s funerals are immortalized in a documentary (see National Geographic’s Rebuilding Paradise directed by Ron Howard). Yet, I had to remember him in print. Phil taught us all to “Show Up.”
And, well, as our father taught us, “Let’s be honest,” there is nothing more important.
Brian sent this in about the DJU:
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Episode 53 of the podcast is here.
We also added a couple of short videos to the YouTube channel this week. One on how to make a beginner program and another on how Dan writes so much.
Don’t forget that Dan is also on Instagram. We both found it quite amusing that this post was so popular.
Have a great week!
In the world of podcasts, I have been busy.
Pat “chose” to ignore me last week…broke my heart. But, here we go, back and better than ever, this week with Pat Flynn.
A few years ago, I met these guys in Boston and we had a wonderful night. It’s an honor to be back on their podcast.
I enjoy reading things on the internet. I really do. I get such a mix of information from areas I would never had explored. Sure, I love my old books, but sometimes my eyes get opened. This is the BEST explanation I have ever read on mental resilience.
It’s like dumping your garbage on someone else’s lawn. It just stinks.
Well, that certainly got the point across. But wasn’t I allowed to vent just a bit?
As it turned out, no, no I wasn’t.
“Focus on the process, not the luck. Did I play correctly? Everything else is just BS in our heads,” Erik tells me. “Thinking that way won’t get you anywhere. You know about the randomness of it but it doesn’t help to think about it. You want to make sure you’re not the person in the poker room saying, ‘Can you believe what happened?’ That’s the other people.” he said.
I hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but the words hit home. That was the moment I realised just how much poker might teach me about one of the single most important tools in our mental arsenal: emotional resilience. How we frame something affects not just our thinking but our emotional state. It may seem a small deal, but the words we select – the ones we filter out and the ones we eventually choose to put forward – are a mirror to our thinking.
The language we use becomes our mental habits – and our mental habits determine how we learn, how we grow, what we become. It’s not just a question of semantics: telling bad beat stories matters. Our thinking about luck has real consequences in terms of our emotional wellbeing, our decisions, and the way we implicitly view the world and our role in it. There is no such thing as objective reality. Every time we experience something, we interpret it for ourselves. How we phrase sentences can determine whether we have an internal or external locus of control, whether we are masters of our fates or peons of forces beyond us. Do we see ourselves as victims or victors? A victim: the cards went against me.
End quote
As if??? Clueless is 25 years old?
Though Austen once joked that Emma was “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like,” the key to the novel’s success is the affection Austen clearly feels for her serenely self-delusional protagonist. And that’s exactly how Heckerling feels about Cher, the queen bee of Bronson Alcott High School who wields her powers (mostly) for good. She looks after her father’s health. She fully intends to break for animals. And she views makeovers as the ultimate act of charity. Like Emma, Cher wants to help people. And like Emma, she lacks the humility to keep her worst meddling impulses in check. “The real evils, indeed, of Emma’s situation,” Austen wrote, “were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.”
Clueless subs in teen cliques for class distinctions and high school ragers for balls, but it otherwise keeps most of Emma’s plot intact. Cher adopts a charity case in the form of a lower-status woman (Brittany Murphy’s brassy transfer student Tai), steers her away from a guy who’s clearly perfect for her (Breckin Meyer’s sweet stoner Travis), and ultimately comes to realize that she’s actually the one who’s totally clueless about matters of the heart, especially her own. Much as Emma discovers “with the speed of an arrow” that she’s in love with her haughty neighbor Mr. Knightley, a glowing fountain punctuates Cher’s own revelation that she’s “majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love” with Josh (Paul Rudd), her pretentious one-time stepbrother.
End quote
Shane sent this in. It ties in well with the concept of mental resilience…accept it with enthusiasm!
Amor Fati is a concept that has been attributed to many philosophers over the years, and the Stoics of ancient Greece and Rome were some of the earliest proponents of the principle.
The Roman Emporer and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius never explicitly used the term amor fati in his writings due to writing in Greek rather than Latin, but in his Meditations, he wrote:
     Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.
 Epictetus, another Stoic philosopher, said something similar in his Enchiridion:
     Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.
 The point of Amor Fati is, as the Stoics wrote, to not only accept whatever happens to you but to accept it with enthusiasm rather than wishing for anything else to have happened.
End quote
Once again, I notice I haven’t really had enough lifting articles, but, as I noted last week, this time of year often doesn’t tend to have a lot of good material on lifting. And, of course, many of us are far more busy worrying about health and finances.
All I can do is quote the last lines of The Count of Monte Cristo: “Wait and Hope.”  I’m an optimist and I know things will be better. I will continue doing what I can to help.
Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 151

Ash said softly, “I am the Venus of the forest. I am pliable.”
“My dear Madam,” said a rather society box, in smirking, urban, scholastic, eighteenth-century accents, “a decoration of boxwood promotes the growth of hair, while the oil distilled from its shavings is a cure for haemorrhoids, toothache, epilepsy, and stomach worms. So, at least, we are told.”
“If it comes to being sarcastic,” replied a homely hazel, who was a good fellow at heart, although he was inclined to snap, “May I mention that hazel chips will clear turbid wine in twenty-four hours, and twigs of hazel twisted together will serve for yeast in brewing? You may be a sort of Lord Chesterfield, but at least you will have to yield to me in the matter of genteel tipsyfication practiced by the elegant gentlemen of your century.”
“As far as drink goes,” said an impossible female ivy, who was always clinging to her husband, putting her oar in, and making his life a misery, “ground ivy is used for clarifying beer.”
She simpered when she said the word “beer” in the most unpleasant way. She was a sour creature in any light.
“I don’t know why we are talking about drink,” said a dignified beech. “But, if we are talking about it I may as well mention that Virgil’s drinking bowl, divini opus Alcimedontis, was turned out of my wood.
“Great men,” remarked a close-grained svelte lime, “are always going back to the trees. Grindling Gibbons would never carve his nets and basket out of anything but me.”
“And Salvator Rosa,” said a chestnut, “was always painting me.”
“Corot,” said a willow sighing, “was fond of me.”
“How your humans do spin about,” remarked a crafty elm coldly. “What a speed they live at.  It is rather good sport trying to spot them, and then to drop an old bough on their heads if you can get them directly underneath. But of course you have to stand very still and give no signs of dropping it till the actual moment. The cream of the joke is that they make the coffins out of me afterwards.”

End quote
There is more here, of course, but I wanted to stop for just a moment. Reading this as an adult and then putting my mind into White’s life in probably 1937 or so got me thinking that this is exactly how American readers would think a typical British cocktail party would engage during the period.
Certainly, I am influenced by the movies and television shows about British royalty et al, but I actually laughed out loud reading (and transcribing this) today. I tend to have this image of the snooty upper-crust Brits being played by trees. The boxwood fits the image perfectly.
As for Lord Chesterfield, yes, he is the guy named for the couch and cigarette. He balanced an interesting life of writing, adultery and civil service. Samuel Johnson himself commented on his writing as being the delicate balance between whore and dancemaster (I’m just quoting…don’t shoot the messenger). He wrote this to his son:
There is nothing that people bear more impatiently, or forgive less, than contempt; and an injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult. If, therefore, you would rather please than offend, rather be well than ill spoken of, rather be loved than hated; remember to have that constant attention about you which flatters every man’s little vanity; and the want of which, by mortifying his pride, never fails to excite his resentment, or at least his ill will.
Oddly, still true. Chesterfield died just as those horrid colonials in the Americas were making trouble.
Virgil has been quoted with this in other sources, but it really just means a master woodcarver.   
“Pocula ponam
Fagina, cœltum divini opus Alcimedontis.”
Virgil: Eclogue, iii. 36.
Grindling Gibbons, basically a contemporary of Lord Chesterfield, was also a master woodcarver, with his work displayed in Windsor Castle. Salvator Rosa, an Italian painter and artistic rebel, would be part of the “proto-Romantic” period of art.
The trees are doing a masterful job of name-dropping here. It reminds of a dinner I had with Tom Hanks and President Obama…
Our trees are going to be discussing themselves just a bit more and our first dream will come to an end.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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