An excerpt from Daily Survivor #2 (Grit is a thing that sandpaper has).
YOU ARE YOUR OWN GYM
The idea that practice is measured in hours, as exemplified by the popularity of the 10,000 hours to mastery rhetoric, places the focus on the task itself; practice is about process over time, about maximizing both process and time for self-betterment. Stamina, on the other hand, is positioned as a seemingly inert or already embedded force, something that only allows for a better maximization of process by allowing one to not feel time quite as strongly. Stamina, as an inert or embedded quality, is a thing that things have, it is a quality that borders on the inorganic because of the way it implies the inherent strength of certain materials. Stamina is the way that concrete and steel make bridges.
Or, actually, more specifically, the way that people use the force of these materials to benefit themselves. Stamina is a thing to take advantage of.
Several days ago, as part of preparations for an endoscopic procedure, the nurse had to bring out a different blood pressure cuff for me, an adult small, because the one she had was too large. She asked if I jog.
DON’T BE SO MAD AND TESTE
Stamina is a kind of potentiality, because you have no idea how much is left (until it runs out) and there could always be more. Stamina, as potentiality, is best exemplified by the performance enhancing drugs taken by Lance Armstrong, because all of the potentials for enhancement, winning, awards, increased stamina and getting caught were all already embedded in the drugs themselves. Stamina is a quality of things.
And it has to be about the drugs, here, because it’s not about the bike.
The fall out, the movement from potentials to eventuality, of the drugs and their effects and movement through Lance’s body, and the anger these events sparked for so many, illustrates two important aspects of stamina. One, that stamina, especially as it is related to process and time and potentiality, is always about movement, and, two, that despite the fact that stamina is an inherent quality of (other) things, any failure of stamina or attempts to cheat (and thereby overcome its inherentness) is always a personal failure.
The personal failure of Lance Armstrong is indicated not only by the drugs themselves but by the nature of the testicular cancer whose potentiality moved through him as well. There is testosterone coursing everywhere in and around Lance Armstrong. In this testosterone, in the “boys will be boys” attitude, especially considering athletic feats or feats of strength, that often accompanies it, is the beginning glimmer of the notion that the very close cousin of stamina is sheer stupidity.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN GYM
Sheer stupidity is the human, personal, analogue to the kind of stamina that is embedded in things. Sheer stupidity is what activates this kind of stamina and allows people access to it within themselves or within their performance enhancing drugs. Sheer stupidity is meant to indicate the absoluteness of this quality, the above and beyondness of it, that this is not the stupidity of making mistakes or bad decisions but the stupidity of unthinkingness, of being so unthinking that any mistakes can’t even be characterized as such because conscious decisions were not made.
I do jog.
1 Lauren, Mark and Joshua Clark. You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises. New York: Ballantine Books, 2011.
2 Armstrong, Lance and Sally Jenkins. It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.