“Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who are you? Don’t tell me; show me. If you’re reading this, I feel it is safe to assume that movement or fitness, in some shape or form, is a large part of your life. Are we not defined by what we do? So maybe, how we move represents a part of who we are, as this is how we choose to express ourselves. Self expression is not only fundamental to our wellbeing, but is a birth right given to everyone. Expression teaches us about ourselves, our unique individualism. Self expression is, as written by the American Psychotherapist Alexander Lowen; one of the “Pillars of the temple of the self”. Often we put these pieces of ourselves on display for all to see, showing others our strengths and weaknesses, our feelings and opinions. It is like a hand reaching out and connecting with others, who see us and choose to relate or disassociate as a result.
Just because someone’s way of expressing him/herself is different to mine, does not mean I cannot appreciate or respect it. Conversely, if I do agree or appreciate somebody else’s chosen form; this does not make mine any less valid. Feelings of envy or jealousy need not be conjured; neither should these forms be condemned simply because it does not align with what I choose to do. At age 11, whilst on holiday in Italy, I had the privilege of going to see the famous sculpture of the Biblical disciple, David, by the famous Italian artist Michelangelo. For those of you not familiar with his work, it is essentially a massive marble statue of a naked dude. Now, needless to say, whilst gazing at this statue at the tender age of 11, I saw nothing but his cock and balls, polished to a brilliant white sheen, and although I will never be found chiselling out a penis from a block of marble, I could still appreciate the skill and mastery that had gone into producing such a piece of art.
Sometimes we come across a form of expression that we don’t understand. Let’s briefly look at the alien world of abstract paintings, specifically at the artist Rothko. To me, a man who knows as much about art as Mike Tyson knows about consensual sex, some of his paintings look like nothing more than blocks of colour on paper. Yet he is one of the most famous American artists. I don’t, and probably never will, understand his work, and therefore it would be easy and natural for me to mock and condemn it. However it is not the art, but my ignorance, that is the underlying issue.
Once movement is viewed as an art form, and therefore a form of expression, then it becomes very difficult for somebody to tell you that what you are doing is wrong. They can dislike and disagree, but that is all. Of course all movement is bound by certain laws, but beyond those basic laws of physics, most other so called “rules” are merely theories and opinions. So why stick to norm? Why not try as many different modalities and doctrines as possible? Unless you are planning on breaking records and winning medals in a certain discipline, specialising is arguably pointless, as there will always be somebody who can out lift, out run or out smart you. So instead, enjoy the process of adding new strings to your bow. Try everything that appears interesting or valuable to you. Run, flip, dance, do handstands, squat heavy, throw far. You may have a big bench, but how high can you jump for joy? You may well run marathons, but you probably punch like a vegetarian. When you free yourself from the rat race of chasing the accolades and numbers that other people respect, and instead do things purely for the jack pot joy of it, a whole world of endless possibilities awaits.
N.W.A, as stated on their pioneering gangster rap album “Straight Outta Compton”, along with myself, implores you to express yourself. To do this you cannot simply take on the values of others, although they may influence and inspire, you must do what you value. Dr. Dre says, in the aforementioned song; “I’m expressing with my full capabilities”. So the question is, are you?