Shed a Little Light

Shed a Little Light

The other day I stopped at a rural gas station in Kentucky. A young mother was digging in her pockets to pay for some gas. It was clear she had seen better days and strapped for cash. She asked the cashier to give $5.35 on pump 8. I remember thinking “damn, that won’t get you far“. And didn’t give too much thought after she paid the cashier. I was running late in a hurry and waiting to pay for my coffee. I was too concerned with my own worries to give her much thought.

In line in front of me was a tall old farmer, complete with overalls. He reached in his pocket, grabbed his wallet and pulled out a $20 bill. He gave it to the cashier and told the young mom, “Merry Christmas, hope this will get you a little further down the road.” Her eyes misted up and said “Thank you so much sir“.

After the young girl was out the door and pumping her gas, the farmer gave the cashier another $20 and told her to add to the girl’s bill. This time it was the cashier who started to get misty eyes. She told the farmer, “thank you sir, you’ll be blessed for that. That girl is a regular and I know she’s such a hard worker”. The farmer simply replied, “I reckon that’s how it works”.

That simple gesture undoubetly had a profound impact that day on that young mother. It was clear she was having a difficult and dark day, all the farmer did was shed a little light.

A few minutes later I was checking my Facebook and the above picture popped up in my newsfeed:


It takes a strong person to do what that farmer did. What if we acted more like a farmer? Imagine the impact we could make, the light we could provide to people during a dark day.

Helping others requires strength, strength as defined by Henry Rollins:

“Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.”

The world is full of weakness, full of people acting like assholes. More than ever, we are in need of strong people. A simple $40 made an enormous impact on that girl that day.

Stop being in a rush, busying your mind with “me first” thoughts. Start looking for opportunities to have a positive impact on someone’s day.

Please read the remainder of Henry Rollins essay below. It beautifully explains why we’re such believers in using the gym as a tool to develop the total person.

“It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character.

Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”

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