Things To Think About
By Donny Shankle CPT
“Ai En Aristeuein” - Greek Proverb (Ever To Excel)
I have been asked by my teammates on more than one occasion - “Donny how do you come into the gym and train everyday, not hurt, feeling tired, or just lacking motivation?” I always give the same perverted answer - “Be miserable and love it!” Considering I try very hard to be a positive person, my response always baffled me. Why was I telling my teammates and closest friends who are seeking advice something which on its surface sounded so negative? Where did this approach to hard training come from? I knew I was right to be thinking this way, but I wanted to know where this way of thinking came from and what the advantage was to thinking this way? To me, I understood the concept of misery - to be positive, and the word is a badge of honor. It was when I likened the word to honor that I ominously came across these words in Steven Pressfields book The War of Art and remembered my own time in the Marine Corps.
“In my younger days dodging the draft, I somehow wound up in the Marine Corps. There's a myth that Marine training turns baby-faced recruits into bloodthirsty killers. Trust me, the Marine Corps is not that efficient. What it does teach, however, is a lot more useful.
The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.
This is invaluable for an artist.
Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys, or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because those candy-asses don't know how to be miserable.
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell. “ - Steven Pressfield
After reading this, it dawned on me that this way of thinking during training was magnified in me due to my service in the Marine Corps. Even before then, I can remember taking a special pride in adversity. This is one of the reasons I joined the Marine Corps and not another branch of service. I understood them to be the best and the hardest and I was curious to see if I could measure up.