My man Elliot asked me to spit some lyrics for this here entwined blog, so here we go. Since we went to high school together, it brings me to a more spontaneous place than normal when we interact.
You remember that time. The uncertainty. The emotions. The elation. The terror. All cycled throughout a single day, sometimes even within the same period!
So here we go. Step into the cipher with me. It’s about to get REALLY real up in this biaatch.
You might notice my Ebonics flow. 40-year-old, suburban raised white man here -- but my formative years coincided with the 90s, the Golden Era of Hip Hop, so the lingo never left me. I used to suppress it in my late 20s when I was worried about being something called “professional,” fearful that I’d never get solid footing in this world.
But screw that. That was wasted time pursuing some stuffy standard that was someone else’s. All that matters are your intention and the results produced. Everything else is just style points. Do it your way homey.
And that is where this brief essay is going to take us, a lesson anyone can glean from hip hop culture.
“Celebration of Life”
Desperate circumstances, lack of hope, and constriction, can paradoxically force a sort of freedom at the same time. There’s no fear of losing status or being judged. It’s assumed that the status quo thinks less of you anyway so eff them.
Their approval isn’t needed. “Who are they to be equal to?” -Ice Cube
The external might get bleak, society may feel rigged, but laughter, style, expression, and celebration become a form of resistance, an act of rebellion.
The hands can be shackled but the spirit cannot.
Ask yourself which audience laughs deeper: one at a Seinfeld performance or Def Comedy jam?
Hip Hop culture embraces the stoic reality of the street: handle your business and don’t get caught slippin’, but have some style, some swagger while you do. Live free. Any moment could be your last...
No matter how serious life gets: as a father, a business owner, a trainer, I try to accomplish two things without settling for one or other:
1) handle my responsibilities and 2) be outrageous while doing it.
It makes me laugh and that’s reason enough.
The sands of the hourglass keep falling and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to celebrate every moment on the way to my dirt nap. I strive to be serious as a heart attack but silly at the same time. It all matters and doesn’t. As an entwined listener (and reader), you get that duality. I don’t even need to expand on it.
“Stay Gold Ponyboy.” - The Outsiders
Keep it fresh. Keep it lively. Keep it moving or you’re lost.
Want more motivation? Your kids. Or any youth you hope to impact.
The youth in general can sniff out irrelevance a mile away. If you’re not fresh, you’re stale. They’ll be polite if you hold position over them or they need something from you, but you won’t be able to “influence” them without this bold philosophy and ability to celebrate the moment, having fun, authentic, unscripted interactions with people.
A pattern interrupt.
They may not know a lot, but they understand a broken down, joyless adult when they see one.
Alright, I’ve begun to overstay my welcome here and get a little preachy. But it would be incomplete to leave you with some flowery lines without some practical nuts and bolts, a “how to” recipe in bringing back the spark if you fear yours might need some rekindling.
Of course there is no one recipe. And I guess the standard advice here would be to identify something way outside of your comfort zone and commit to it. I think Ramit Sethi has a challenge where you’re supposed to negotiate with your local barista on a cup of coffee.
There was that plank thing going around a couple years ago. There are unlimited ways to get silly or practice being bold. But I want to go a level deeper:
Your fitness: specifically, full range of motion resistance training.
It’s the most powerful anti-aging tool there is. It’s my career as a gym owner and personal trainer. I see it every day. Come visit my clients in their early to late 60s and see for yourself how fun and crazy they are.
Don’t just settle for any old lifting. Get help from a top notch personal trainer on a few sessions and tell them you want to learn the fundamentals of lifting and improving your mobility at the same time. Sound lifting technique, owning the archetypal movements at every point in the lift, means you have the raw materials for physical expression.
If you’re locked up in your shoulders, or wobbly in certain positions, you lack autonomy and awareness. The boldness of your personality is capped in some ways by the physicality which houses it.
What if I am restricted due to an injury or handy-cap?
The swagger we speak of is more a function of your trajectory than absolute level of physicality, although the power of that can’t be denied.
But utilizing and maximizing your available range of motion, regardless of what that is, and safely increasing your training volume over time will do wonders.
Be bold. Be outrageous. And get results. Don’t fall for the 'okey doke' I did where you have to choose between being a fun flake or a responsible downer.