Somewhere in the world, a lion wakes up every morning not knowing what it’s going to eat. Every day, it finds food. The lion isn’t worried—it just does what it needs to do.
Somewhere else, in a zoo, a caged lion sits around every day and waits for a zookeeper. The lion is comfortable. It gets to relax. It’s not worried much, either.
Both of these animals are lions. Only one is a king.
- Julien Smith, The Flinch
Seven letters. R-D-C-F-E-K-P.
Those seven letters mean nothing to you. You digested them. Nothing happened.
Seven letters. F-U-C-K-Y-O-U.
Those seven letters mean something. They affected you more than you know. Your heart beat jumped. You started breathing faster. Your pupils dilated.
Few are conscious of their body. Fewer are conscious of their brain. Fewest are conscious of the orgasmic unification of the body and brain.
You don’t appreciate your complexity or the capability squalling just beyond the skin of your fingertips. It’s a sleepy shadowed understanding of what it means to be human. It’s living in a cage.
But you just have to reach out and clench down. White knuckled. And you do that with your fingers — fingers that are a part of your hand. A structure with close to thirty bones and over one hundred ligaments controlled by nearly fifty electrical wires that can fire with choking violence. Or tickling tenderness, if you so please.
Either way your pupils come along for the ride. Your eye is capable of seeing 500 shades of gray. Capable of processing 36,000 pieces of information in an hour. They are the window to your soul, changing with the mental toughness of a task.
Which brings us to the brain. According to Roger Penrose, our brain is more complex than anything else in the universe. And not to mention the number of synapses in your brain outnumbers the starts in the Milky Way Galaxy. By one thousand times.
This is what you’re dealing with. This is what you own. Your body. Your brain. Marvels of engineering. No machine compares to the living, breathing, functioning biological system of you.
Forget cars. You own the most complex and sophisticated vessel in existence. No money down. It’s yours.
But it’s easy to overlook. Easy to be out of touch with what it means to have a body at brain’s command because we forget about things we can’t see.
We see flesh. We like flesh. We take care of flesh. Women wear makeup. We cut our hair. We like things we can see. We care about things we can see.
But we can’t see our guts.
And our guts are always whispering. Always feeling the world beyond our skin. Always thinking. Processing. Wondering how to change to better prepare for what’s out there.
It’s science fantasy. We don’t want to believe, as Robert Sapolsky wrote, that our mother’s chicken pot pie was once digested and transformed into our thigh bone when we were a kid. It’s easy to shove this psychedelic reality outside of our head because everything works without us even having to know how it all works. And that’s fine.
Until it stops working.
And that’s what happens. We don’t care until something goes wrong.
We take the car in for oil changes and regular maintenance to avoid big problems down the line. We can do the same thing with our body.
Unlike your car, your body fixes and upgrades itself.
…if you push the right buttons.
Because, unfortunately, we don’t come with an instruction manual. We have no idea what we’re capable of. No idea how to change ourselves. No idea what button is responsible for what. Maybe even no idea that we have buttons to push.
When I was younger I wanted to be everyone but me. I was skinny-fat. Suffered from the usual teenage self confidence ruckus. Afraid to take my shirt of in gym class. Couldn’t do one push-up, let alone one pull-up.
And then I found something called tricking.
I became a stupid kid teaching myself how to do flips in my own backyard. No instructor. No blueprint. Just ambition.
And then I started to land some tricks. And then I learned how to backflip. And this lightbulb went off.
You don’t have to feel damaged, kid. You can change these things about yourself, ‘yaknow? You can change some things out here and it will change how things work in here. But you know what? You can’t expect to live the way you used to. You have to do some work. Change necessitates change.
I wish I could give you the magic pill you want. I wish I could give you weird tricks that actually blasted belly fat.
I wish I could tell you it’s easy. That you’ll never lose motivation. That you’ll never have to commit time. That you’ll never feel lost and confused and vulnerable. That you’ll never question whether or not you have an eating disorder. That you’ll never think about buying steroids. That you’ll never wonder why you don’t just eat microwave pizzas, watch Seinfeld reruns, and never care about any of this stuff ever again.
But what I can tell you is that you’re lucky. Because the clinically insane part of all of this is that you can change. You can pickle one of the most complex things in the world…
You’re part nurture. Your environment shapes you. Every day. You’re never the same person two days in a row. Everything you do today will be in you tomorrow that wasn’t there yesterday.
This happens without thought. And now what you’re doing is consciously reaching into your guts, pushing some buttons, twisting some knobs, and probing for a certain kind of change. Perhaps permanent change. All by changing your environment.
But talk is cheap. There’s a creed. A popular one by a big company. And it’s wrong. It’s dumb. Here’s your new one.
Just did it.
Because that’s what matters. You don’t need permission. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s alright. Struggle is nature’s way of strengthening.
The world isn’t straight. It’s wiggly. There’s no such thing as absolute space and time. Everything is relative to you. Your environment. Your culture. Your fingerprint. It’s all yours. And it’s your job to find out what works for you.
The caged is fed their life; the Kings fights for their life.
Sometimes I feel like the dumbest guy in the room. I make mistakes. I’m a skeptic. Even of myself. I have a hard time looking people in the eye and telling them that some consider my life’s work nothing but vanity and narcissism—caring about the body and all.
You’ll get that. If you find a good way to respond, let me know. I just ask them why they mow their lawn, get their hair cut, wear clothes, and hold their farts in at dinner parties.
Not everyone can be King. Some are better off in the cage.
And you know what? Maybe this is about looking better naked. Most of us start there. But it’s about something more. It’s about potential. About upgrading. About having the power to change. About crafting a user manual. Your own user manual.
It’s about having complete control over yourself.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
We watch dancers. We marvel at their grace and fluidity. Their control over their body.
We see extreme sport athletes. We marvel at their bravery. Their control over their mind.
We see snake charmers. Fire walkers. The control over their emotions.
We love it all because we silently appreciate how special it is to own parts of your being. As if the masses are doomed to live a life not only without the control, but also longing for the control.
You aren’t doomed. It’s possible to own yourself. To dominant some piece of your being.
All physical and mental upgrades are nothing more than you showing dominance over your body. And that dominance, that control, spills into the rest of your life.
This is what it means to be King. It’s not about ruling others. It’s about ruling yourself. It’s not about some sort of academic pursuit. It’s a way of life. And you don’t need to be an expert.
In the end, you only get one life. One body. One brain. This isn’t about following a certain set of rules. Or a certain program. The question isn’t whether or not you can follow a formula.
The question is:
Are you going to be curious enough to care?
Image credit: lion