First, Seek to Understand…

First. seek to understand, then to be understood.”

Oh, this is a good one.

I spent Saturday and Sunday in Tennessee with family. My cousin-in-law, Gary, had suffered a brain hemorrhage from an aneurysm several weeks ago. On Saturday friends and family got together to host a spaghetti supper to raise money for my cousin and help mitigate some of the financial costs of this hardship.

As you can imagine, I had my issues with the whole idea of a spaghetti supper. The concept of a carb laden sugar fest whose primary purpose was to alleviate health care costs struck me as a little more than ironic.

But I’m a good family man and I do my part. I showed up, kept my mouth shut, and served spaghetti to the 75 to 100 concerned souls of the community who came out to support my cousin, Shannon, and her husband.

For days prior to this event I carried on about the “wrongness” of it all. Shannon and Gary are both overweight and Gary’s health issues are in no small part due to life style choices.

The evangelical in me felt obligated to say something, as if this time my message would get across and they would see the errors of their ways. What would separate this time from all the others I couldn’t guess, but still…

But, like I said, I was good. I kept my mouth shut and this time I just watched.

This is what I saw.

Nearly every adult there was overweight to some degree. Most of the children were not. Of all the contributions, in terms of food, the vast majority and the greatest diversity was dessert.

Both men and women availed themselves of the dessert table, but it was the men who by and large made more than one trip.

Those were my objective observations. What follows is subjective and possibly projected. I’m not exactly sure how to take myself totally out of my observations, but it was these observations that led to an epiphany.

I am a people watcher and as such I study, not just behavior but expressions as well, especially those expressions people take on when they’re in repose and don’t realize anyone is watching.

It is my opinion that the largest people, those who carried the most excess poundage, were also the most unhappy. Of course, I can’t say this with any certainty, it was the impression I got, but that then started a whole new line of thought.

As an industry we treat obesity as the disease, but what if it’s really a symptom?

Frequently I see people, men especially, who are not living up to their physical potential. But as an adult, why should they? Once they’ve passed adolescence, secured a mate, and fathered children at what biological advantage is being fit?

Securing food and shelter no longer require the same type of work or effort they once did. Fitness in modern reality is more of a recreational accessory than any real necessity.

Sure, you’ll live better and longer, but we’ve seen time and again that the human animal doesn’t really regard long term benefits, especially when confronted with a choice between taste-good-feel-good now and a future maybe.

So what if the obesity epidemic is actually indicative of a deeper more insidious problem, a reflection of a national depression, a society where fire and passion have been thwarted and replaced with Ho-Hos and Twinkies?

If I’m right, how do we rekindle that passion?

Here’s my request. If you do train, why do you do it? What’s the spark that ignited your drive and separates you from all your brothers and sisters?

Comment below and share what you’ve done to fight back against the general malaise of modern living and where you get your fuel to keep your passion burning. Together, if we can better understand I’m certain we can be better understood.

To our perfect imperfection,


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