Do you work to exercise or do you exercise to work, or perhaps they are one in the same? This riddle of a question centers around the question of integrity. Are you one thing with many parts or simply fragmented with many parts and no cohesive philosophy to hold it all together?
I first heard the concept of integrity as a young child through the constant condescension of adults and people in positions of power to get me to follow their rules. If I didn’t follow their rules, they told me I lacked integrity and I learned to misunderstand and despise the concept. Later, through my own philosophical inquiries, I learned to love the term. It gave me an endless personal struggle through which I receive the fruits of freedom as a reward for my constant quest for integrity.
I came to the tautological truth that every person at any given time is always doing their best. This is backed by the understanding that if they could do better they would (or else they would simply be insane, in which case not only would not be responsible for their actions, but they would also most certainly still be doing their best, just in their own crazy way). This line of thinking follows Socrates’ famous trial defense in which he claimed to not corrupt the youth and if he did do so it was unknown to him since he would not intentionally corrupt the youth which would in the end be a harm to himself.
All of this led me to the understanding about my own ethical conduct, that what I needed was not to unravel and understand all the rules those in a position of power were dictating to me, but to simply do what it is I already knew I should be doing. I needed not to strive for the moral compass of others, but first stick to my own heading without wavering, and that alone would lead me to the understanding of a more universal code of conduct.
I needed to learn to always do my best before learning what others thought was best.
First I tackled the basics — how do I get rid of stealing, cheating, lying and generally harming others? Then I could stand behind some of the basic core beliefs I had with integrity. Simple yet hard, eliminating the contradictions in my own life became my goal and eventually led me to take a hard look at exercise.
I knew I should exercise so I had to become the kind of person who exercised regularly without fail and come to a place of innermost acceptance in order to rid myself of the arguments within myself that opposed becoming this kind of person. Over many years I began to make progress in this area of my life and I knew it was progress because it led me to the next area to be uncovered as progress so often does.
Exercise for me had a dark and selfish tinge to it. I wanted to leave work early to work out or would dread going to work after a workout. I worked out so others would think I was strong or looked good. Sometimes my intentions were not necessarily bad but most certainly just about me, my fun, my health, my time for me. I began to think about how occupational or functional fitness could take precedence in a personal training career. Making workouts purposefully enhance the quality of daily life became my goal.
Limited only by my earnestness in seeking, I began to unravel more and more truths pertaining to integrity within my own personal practices. I saw the waste and excessive nature of what was taking place in the gym so I built my own gym and streamlined the efficiency of what it meant to exercise with purposeful intent to restore integrity. How could I help people do what it is they thought they should do in the first place? If I could do this I could help people… after all pretty much everyone I encountered knew what would benefit them, they just lacked the power or integrity to do so. They would say things like, “I know I should…but I…,” and “I really want to…but every time….”
Personally I knew the ultimate source of health, wealth, and well-being was nature so if I were to teach others to do as they believed I needed to go to the source I believed in and train like it. I turned towards farming, or more appropriately the relentless pursuit of connection and interaction with one’s own surrounding for the purposeful benefit of all life forms. I bought a farm, I built a farm, and every day I asked myself, “What ought I do know and how do I gain the strength to do so?” My training was launched into a new dimension, I felt my body, mind and spirit unite for every rep. I felt as if every set were carefully constructed towards the unbending intent of what I was to accomplish that day. Every breath was taken purposefully and with integrity towards a unified end.
The process was simply magical and as my mentor had taught it was the combination of the mental, physical and emotional which created the spiritual. I needed to unify these parts of myself in order to get into the territory of the spirit. I needed to stop putting off one thing for another, to stop using things as means and see them all as ends. I needed to heed the advice of my own personal death and make every moment count.
I had run out of time. No more time to wait, my work must become my play and my exercise as well. I needed it all. So out of necessity I stepped into my innermost predilection and I understood what in meant to never be idle and never be hurried because I am never idle and never hurried.
To live with integrity and realize the scope of a person’s life in its and entirety, seeing the inner purpose of every moment, is one of the greatest gift a human being can experience. What is so wonderful about the whole affair is we are all on a level playing field. All one needs to do is to simply do what they think they should; after conquering that task the next we be illuminated and we all march on.
We march on endlessly in our quest for knowledge, but be careful of what it is you see and learn because once a thing is learned one must take responsibility for it in order to live with integrity. Living life with integrity is most certainly an endless challenge but to live without it is most certainly and unnecessary loss. Cheers to you and your journey as you become more and more you through this process and if you ever need help I will do my best.
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– Finally, there seem but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbors. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry.- – Benjamin Franklin #rootsfitness #putitintheground
Andre can be reached at [email protected].