“Weakness Is A Crime --- Don’t Be A Criminal”
The above quote is attributed to the one and only Bernarr Macfadden. Who was Bernarr? He was an eccentric, driven, passionate, influential and whole lot more, individual -- but most importantly, he was the father of mass media physical culture and for better or worse, a large influence in much of my own thinking concerning the attitude of physical culture.
I despise weakness, mostly in myself; I have several and I hate, despise, loathe, scorn, abhor, detest…. okay enough of synonyms; each and every single one of them.
The big two, those that have prevented me from realizing my life’s desires are FEAR and GUILT. Much like Dickens’ want and ignorance, these two weaknesses have held me back, but the one I must beware the most is FEAR --- FEAR has stopped me cold much more often, it has allowed me to be taken advantage of and used, and it has done so with much more power than GUILT has ever.
It’s funny, because even though I had FEAR in my youth, it didn’t stop me, if anything it may have encouraged me. As I have previously written, I have never felt connected to my hometown. When I was seventeen, I couldn’t wait to escape, and although it was only temporary, I did.
I graduated high school on June 16th; on June 21st I was at the Recruit Training Center in Orlando Florida --- Navy Boot Camp. Yes, I did miss my family, but I was away from Northeast Pennsylvania and all of the shackles associated with life there. I felt FEAR, but that FEAR wasn’t going to keep me down. And, for five years I was free --- I had escaped.
What the hell happened?
I was on my last tour of duty, when the Navy decided that we should part ways a few months early. I was caught off guard, and from the time I received notice to the actual event, only a matter of days had passed. I had every intent to stay in Hawaii after my enlistment ended, which would have been in November, but the suddenness of the discharge in late July left me reeling. That insurmountable FEAR reared its ugly head. I didn’t know what to do, so I chose the safe and secure option --- I went back my family and the repressing manacles of the Northeast Pennsylvania mindset --- I have allowed those chains to bind me ever since.
It is hard to describe this area to those not from here. Those born and raised here don’t see it unless they too have escaped, but the unfortunate transplants comprehend the pestilence which has settled over the region.
If you desire to get a sense of the hopelessness that pervades Northeast PA, all one needs do is tune into the local talk radio station. It doesn’t matter the host’s particular political bent or ideology, they are all prefect examples of the mentality that crushes the spirit of the young --- forever oppressing them into the station into which they were born.
Another prime example would be some local weather people, except Joe Snedeker --- no matter how beautiful the forecast, they will always throw in, “but don’t get too excited because it will get bad again soon.” Heaven forbid anyone just enjoy what is here at the moment --- nope, the NEPA mantra of it will get bad must be added.
All are representative of the area in which I was born --- entitlement, resentment and bleakness. This environment I desperately tried to escape, but kept getting dragged back to, until eventually I was trapped and suffocated.
However, in the end, I do realize the choices were mine --- always made because of either GUILT or FEAR. Well, hopefully one day I will be done with that. Hopefully, one day, I will again pursue my dreams, and I won’t miss opportunity because of either emotion --- for as we have been recently reminded -- life is finite.