Tuesday, February 18, 2014

C.S. Sloan - On Literature, Beer, and the Joy of Heavy Squats (Among Other Things)

This comes from C.S. Sloan's Integral Strength blog. Sloan is a contributing editor for Iron Man magazine and Planet Muscle Magazine, strength athlete, martial artist, and convert to Orthodox Christianity (with a Stoic and integral bent, I might add). I have featured his writing here several times over the years.

I resonated with this new post because I love to read (and to discover new authors), I love good beer (i.e., not mainstream and corporate), and I love heavy squats.

On Literature, Beer, and the Joy of Heavy Squats (Among Other Things)

I am sorry that it has been so long since I last posted something here. It has been a few weeks. I will try my best to do better with more frequent postings. That being said, I hope you enjoy my latest (slightly philosophical) rant...

There are a few things in life that I love. I love studying philosophy. I love the feel of a new book in my hands—along the same lines, I love discovering a new author, for it is a deep joy; and I worry deeply about people who do not understand the joy to be found in such a discovery.

But there are still greater things that I love even more. I love God[1]. I love cold beer[2] (and worry even more deeply about those who do not understand how great a thing a beer can be). I love holding my wife in my arms.

Last—but certainly not least—I love the feel of deep squats with a heavy barbell on my back. (Oh, what a loathsome life it must be to not love literature, beer, and heavy squats.)

I love all of these things because of what they have taught me in life. And, to be honest, they are all integral to one another. For instance, I trust God, however much I may not understand the Mystery that lies at the depths of the Divine’s Existence[3]. And because of this trust, I can say with conviction that my life is not my own. Whatever God decides to give to me or take away from me, that is His business. It is not mine. Mine is to live my life to the best of my ability with what has been given to me, and with what is under my control. The things under my control are my thoughts and my actions. And because I understand this—because I know this, and am not concerned with the frivolities that many men spend in the baneful existence with which they claim to be a life—I can focus all of my strength and willpower on what is important when lifting, or, hell, when drinking a beer.

The beer—when it’s good beer, at least; please do not waste your money or time on cheap beer just for its alcohol content—is a joy to drink because it, too, is a gift given to me by God (or by Fate, or perhaps the Fates themselves, if you choose to be of a more non-theistic bent[4]). I enjoy it, but I know that it may be my last, for who knows how much longer I have upon this earth. I certainly do not. The beer is in the present, where things actually exist for now. How many men concern themselves with thoughts of the past—worries over what might have been, or reliving “glory days” that they can never get back? The past is gone. Do not give it one more thought, except to learn from your mistakes so that you might live with the utmost dignity, self-respect, and values for the things which do matter. And how many men concern themselves with thoughts of the future—worries over their inevitable losses or fixations upon owning more monetary things? The truth is that the future will take care of itself—and it will be a good future—if you but live for today, concerned only with doing what is right with the thoughts and actions under your control.

Live for the heavy squats that you must do today. Give your attention to them, your time to perfecting them and other heavy, basic lifts. If you want to be big and strong (or lean and strong), then that is a good goal to aim for, but it is not something that you should be fixated upon. Train your squats heavy—learn the joy of simply squatting heavy weights without thought of the results they will bring—and the results will naturally come of their own accord.


[1] When I use the word “God” I am talking about the ground of all Being, not the mythical “sky god” that so many take to be God, but is nothing more than a construct of their own making, for their own whims.

[2] Beer is great, but you must choose a good beer. My favorite beer—as far as the more popular brands go—is “Newcastle.” It’s a brown ale that, perhaps people who like their beers “hoppier” might complain to be too bland, but I have found that it’s what I usually return to the most after trying an assortment of others. By and large, I do not like mainstream American beers. There is little worse than a Bud Light, a Miller Lite, or a Coors Light. Sure, Bud Light sells more than any other beer in the U.S.A., but that ought to tell you something about how bad it is, not how good. I do enjoy drinking beers from smaller breweries in the U.S. Currently, my favorite beer from a local brewery is “Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale” made by “Back 40 Beer Company” right here in Alabama.

[3] I am using “existence” more for nomenclature than any kind of ontological proof. To be honest, you cannot say that God “exists” at all. He doesn’t. Created beings and creatures exist. God is That which is beyond all existence.

[4] Although I don’t agree with it on either metaphysical or epistemological grounds, I am not opposed to good, well thought-out non-theism. Much of the philosophy espoused in this article is of a Stoic bent. Stoicism can certainly be very good and still be non-theistic.

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