Updated: Aug 23, 2021
There were some radio shock jocks who ran a billboard campaign that simply read Question Everything! This, of course, was the more current iteration of a platitude of my youth, which was to Question Authority. This new version, where everything is now in question, is worded to give us the sense that we can take back some power from not just that dreaded Authority, but from any influence that is possibly trying to manipulate us. Now Everything is The Man, and we can't let him get us down.
What a bummer. This plays off our quests to be curious by creating a rally cry for liberty as hyperbole. All this so the uneducated political and social rants of those morning DJs (and their ilk) seem important, rather than just defensive or angry. This is falsely-emboldened confrontation parading as free thought. Ironic, since what the billboards actually meant was "believe us as we question everything."
What should we question? Well, thanks to such modern tropes as mentioned above, the zeitgeist now has the idea of questioning anything as seeming adversarial. To question is to disagree, possibly belligerently. Questioning is now the antagonistic branch of being curious.
Questioning can simply be wondering. Questioning gives curiosity direction. We can wonder about everything. To avoid turning questioning into perpetual skepticism, it may behoove us to question our relationship to everything. Then we can decide where our energy shall be spent and how. Sometimes what we might be questioning actually has little to do with us, therefore "everything" may not need questioning, and that, ultimately, gives us the power. One relationship I do recommend inquiry about is the one with your body, so much so that I dedicate a chapter to this relationship in Are You Useful?, and refer to that chapter often throughout the rest of the book. Here's a snippet (Chapter 4)...
As development, health, and longevity are the rewards of obeying the laws of man’s mechanism, so degeneracy, disease, and premature death are no less the legitimate punishment of their violation. Whatever will secure the greatest degree of strength, vigor, health, and perfection of the physical organization, should be adopted and applied by all, as the first and most important duty of life. - David P. Butler, The Lifting Cure, 1868
Training is not servitude. Others do not impose training on us. Training is a direct vehicle of our practice of mindfulness. Our training is for those who embrace a journey of true empowerment, both for themselves and their tribe.
Life is suffering. Overcoming is living. Finding it fun is truly being alive!
To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, we can learn how to go home to our bodies. Through mindfulness in our movements and intensity, a dialog presents itself between us and our bodies. Can we listen to and understand the language of our body? The dialog often isn’t what the mind is telling us.
Is it really a surprise that the relationships with our bodies aren’t… well… good? Heck, in many cases they’re not there at all beyond our tenuous idea of the body being submissive to our whims. “Body, get me to the fridge!” What we’re witnessing in the proliferation of diseases and the damage of our personal ecosystems is simple mutiny.
With a smidgen of awareness, and a scoop of mindfulness, it will dawn on us how little we listen.
We subvert. We ignore.
We don’t listen. We also slather the feedback with a heap of cognitive dissonance. The results, therefore, are blamed on everything but our own choices. Bummer, since we have a best friend and lifelong companion with us at all times. Our little flesh packets aren’t just our vessels, but living, feeling, talking machines that, although I’m currently addressing them as separate units, are actually very much US!
I posit a bold premise. Our relationships with our bodies, ourselves, will be the precedent for all of our relationships. Suddenly the cliché of having to love yourself before you can love others has a potent ring to it, doesn’t it?
THAT’S what authentic training is - fully grokking your relationship with your body. The fitness industry is failing in not recognising this. It has actually done a swell job of creating an even greater rift between us and our bodies, giving us false ideas of harmony and balance. The industry has convinced us that our brains know our bodies better than our bodies do. That’s a dangerous understanding and has a huge effect on our tribes.
Dave Hall (@alabamasasquatch) and I chat about the role of technology in the relationship with our bodies in this video