Contemplating Seneca #39

There is a quote I heard several years ago that has really stuck with me. Gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer said, “If you want to be a stud later, you have to be a pud now.” This is excellent advice for anybody wanting to develop their levels of physical fitness. A stud is obviously the top of the echelon. To become the stud means you have attained mastery. You are the best. And the pud, well the pud is the opposite, far from mastery. The pud is the novice way down at the bottom of the chain. In the real world there are only a few studs, many pretending to be studs, and then a large majority of puds.

In the world of physical fitness, the only thing preventing us from embracing our “pudness” before we become studs is vanity.  A pud may sound like a bad thing, but is it really if you are on the path to studhood? Being on the path means you are learning, developing, and gaining mastery of your own body. We all have to start somewhere, and we can’t compare ourselves to others. All we can do is compare ourselves to who we were the day before. The goal is to make progress, to become better today.

Consider for a moment, the mental and spiritual studs of the world. They too had to start somewhere. They too were at one time a mental and spiritual pud. They had to progress daily to get where they are today. They too had to travel the path. The road to studhood for them was not necessarily a smooth paved road. It was wrought with difficulties and challenges. They had to overcome their own set of obstacles to get where they are today. One foot in front of the other, they continued along their journey to mastery.

The potential for greatness lies before all of us. The only way to get there is to travel the path. It is a difficult journey but well worth it. Body, soul, and spirit. Imagine what could be accomplished if we work to develop these every day.

Walk the Path

From his prison cell, the Puritan preacher John Bunyan wrote Pilgrims’s Progress, one of the greatest selling books of all time. It is a book I have not read in over 30 years, but it may be one of the most memorable books in my mind. It may be time, I reread it.

In the book, the main character, Christian, sets outs on a journey from his home in the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. How does he get there? By staying on the path. If Christian does not stay the course, but veers to the left or the right, he will be ensnared by the temptations of this world.

In the past few years, I have spent a good deal of time considering my own path. Where is it that I want to go? Once I figured it out, I had to answer the next question. How can I get there if I do not stay on the path?

The path is straight and narrow. You have to maintain constant vigilance to stay on it. On either side are the temptations, the distractions, the snares and the pitfalls. Procrastination, laziness, and all the other vices are waiting for you. They are calling out to you to stop only for a moment. And then another. And then one more time until you no longer remember what it is you are supposed to be doing. How do we continue the journey when we suddenly find ourselves longing to stop?

Discipline. Self-Control. Temperance. We continue our slow and steady pace. We know that the sugar-high of immediate gratification will eventually turn to the bitterness of regret. We continue the march, because the “what might have been” alternative is so dreadful that we dare not taste its fruit.

We all have our paths to take. Once discovered, you have to walk it. It is the only way to partake of the reward at the end of the journey. There are no shortcuts, and straying from it only leads to evil.

Do not turn to the right or left; remove your foot from evil. –Proverbs 4:27

From Point A to B

Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. -Buddha

It is a new day. Today we start at Point A and begin the journey to Point B. It should be easy to figure out what our Point A is. It is where we are right here, right now. You have to make an honest assessment of your Point A. It does you no good to pretend your starting point is somewhere else. Be truthful. This is your Point A. The great thing about Point A is that it starts over every day. So what if it is the same place as it was yesterday. We can’t go back and do it over. The do-over starts today.

This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going. -Brian Tracey

What is your Point B? Can you see it up ahead? Hopefully we all have a dream destination that we are headed toward. Hopefully we all have a Point B. Take a moment and think about this place. Close your eyes and visualize what it would be like to occupy this point. Imagine your dream as reality.

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. –Paulo Coelho

The journey from where you are right now to where you are going is not always easy. Some, never looking to the left or the right, will trudge along always making progress. Others get distracted by what’s around them and never even realize they deviated from the path. And then there is another group that never leaves Point A. Which group are you in? If you are not in the first, it is okay. You can be there. Once again, today is a new day. Do it differently. Do it better.