“Most men die at 27, we just bury them at 72.” – Mark Twain
“Are you planning on becoming the world’s oldest personal trainer?” My friend’s question did not have the sincere enthusiasm I would have hoped for. If the tone had been used by a stranger, the words “derision” and “contempt” would have immediately jumped to my mind. I have to admit, his words and tone did cause a momentary tear in the fabric of my eternal optimism. I also knew that he would not be the only one making negative and barely veiled judgments about my new career direction. After all, how could Princeton and Columbia University degrees lead to this?!
I have recovered quickly. I had a warmup for this kind of status game when I left the practice of law to start my first independent school. I did that with $25,000 in start-up funding, an infant daughter, and no health insurance. Charter school legislation was only a vague dream. Education reform and school choice weren’t quite as sexy then as they are now. I guess that after having started three schools for under-served youth, working in the U.S. Senate and as a prosecutor, and turning around a large youth development organization, it might now appear as if my “give a shit” is malfunctioning.
I’ve been silent on the blog as I drafted this post in my head. It was never quite finished – there was too much to say, too much to explain. Finally, I accepted the fact that like so much of my life, this post was part of a process, a journey. Getting it “finished” would mean about as much as accomplishing my longtime dream of becoming a lawyer did. It’s about reinvention and creation. I have learned the hard way that pursuit of these things is regarded as rebellious and irresponsible – however,”La Luta Continua.”
I am a serial entrepreneur and I have chosen to employ my ability to take action in a different direction. I am now putting my bucket down into the well of wellness. The reasons are many. I am no longer interested in taking orders from cynical people who combine arrogance with a depressing lack of moral courage and integrity. With two parents who committed themselves to the service of others and who died before their time, I am intrigued by the possibility that, God willing, I can temporarily outrun my genetics. I want to help others to live fully engaged. I want to model for my children and my former students the skills that may help them to master their own professional fates. I want to work with people who are honest, committed, and who share my vision of justice and what it truly means to be human, and so…
I now work with people who are in physical and/or emotional pain. I work with people who refuse to be “zoo humans.” I work with people who are trying to manage their stress. I am providing nutrition and wellness coaching to poor people who are victims of the metabolic derangement brought about by governmental collusion with Big Farming and Big Pharma. I work with women who want to define beauty on their terms – terms that include the pursuit of physical strength. I work with tough women seeking balance, movement, and complete expression of their humanity. It’s been interesting to discover that they have more balls than too many of the men I have recently encountered (see Kay Hymowitz and “Manning Up” or John Eldredge and “The Way of the Wild Heart”).
In fact, my personal training career actually started in 1981. I took it on as a way to help pay for law school. It was quite a cast of characters at places like 21st Century Nautilus on East 57th and Better Bodies. I am proud of having competed in the USA Bodybuilding Championships in Las Vegas (Couples Division) in 1982. I felt more comfortable in that world than I did among my law school classmates and the glib, ambitious but dead-eyed lawyers I worked with during my summers.
I have had the option of being dismayed, depressed, or disgusted by some of the people who have crossed my former professional path – and it has been a tempting option. I choose instead to see them as people who are trapped in pain, confusion, and insecurity. My only regret is that I didn’t have a chance to be their personal trainer.
My study of Reiki, hypnosis, Neurolinguistic Programming (that began almost twenty years ago), and my sports coaching certifications were never meant to to be the powder for a magic bullet that was going to change the world of education, eliminate poverty, or any other such grand plan. They were tools to help me express my humanity and to help other people express theirs. This is my Hero’s Journey. It may not be up to the standards of some of my accomplished and erstwhile friends but I’m loving it.
By the way, my “give a shit” is working better than ever.
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