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The Calm After the Roar

Sometimes we need to stop and listen to the sounds around us, whether we’re on a busy street or in a park or at the gym where the action takes place. Most of us don’t consider the experience, tedious indeed, unless we come across a how-to-relax article in Reader’s Digest at the dentist’s office. And the trial lasts about 15 seconds before we scream and wet our pants.

Stop and listen—the odd couple—are almost archaic practices in our iPad, text-me, see-me world. I attempted the quaint combination this week while on the deck catching some rays. Whoa, Nellie. Once I managed the onslaught of sensations—guilt, neglect, urgency, weirdness, frustration, terror, indulgence, audacity, sin—life around me slowed, clarified and intensified.

I began to float as on a cloud. Amid serenity and peace, I saw truth and beauty and love. I was aglow, one with myself. Just kidding—but I did last seven minutes, and I didn’t wet my pants.

I understood and appreciated the quality, beauty and import of the calm that ensued and the quiet focus it generated. Those features shone, replacing the shadows that oft crowd thought and darken the mind. I noted, too, the absence of calm in me—or is it the world in which I dwell?

Calmness is the environment of rest and restoration. It is amid calm that we refresh, renew, repair and grow. Calm is cool.

CALM, I submit, is a proper and hale companion of ROAR, the call of the iron-beast, a very wild yet cool animal: Establish Consistency, demonstrate Assertion, assure Longevity and respect Moderation.

Some of you are rolling your eyes, suggesting C is for corny, A is for arse, L is for loopy and M is for moron. Or C is for crackpot, A is for able-challenged, L is for lobotomy and M is for muttonhead. Wait—I’ve got more. C is…

Consistency in thought and performance demonstrates the all-embracing characteristics of ROAR: responsibility, order, aspiration and resolve. Consistency in word and deed leads to desired destinations and their outer limits. Consistency in statement and action speaks to the actor’s courage, conviction and commitment.

Inconsistency, alas, indicates weakness and carelessness, tentativeness and superficiality: hesitant step, loose gait and short stride, forward, backward and sideways.

Here I come. Where’d I go? Wait for me.

You want the best, you’ve got it down, and you know where you’re going and how to get there. Exceptional! You’re responsible and ordered, aspiring and resolute. You roar. Exhibit assertion and be on your way.

Assertion is imperative for achievement. Boldness comes to mind—clarity, strong will and verve. An assertion is a sound pronouncement, a declaration of fact, a personal statement. Assertion is the calm and consistent aim, the steady draw and release of the arrow speeding to its mark.


We, the ironheaded, claim, not propose or haggle. Assert yourself.

What good are our efforts and deeds if they don’t reach for, contribute to and assure longevity? As the patriarch declared to the patriot, “Give me liberty, and give me longevity.” Our focus and concern are not this day alone but tomorrow and forever. Our actions today, should they be sound and worthy, beget countless bright tomorrows.

Furthermore, long life is most exciting and joyful when accompanied by wisdom, good health and a well-used membership to the neighborhood gym. Lift to live and learn, to enjoy and grow, to endure, have gnarly guns, whatever.

Of course, thoughts of long life cross our minds only after we’ve lived a long time and reckon its short span. As a kid—a condition extending well into a musclehead’s 40s and 50s—we know tomorrow is only a day, a pump and a few aches away. When the years of life pile up the way the dumbbells once did, how long outweighs how much.

May your tomorrows be almighty and everlasting, by God.

On the other hand, more is not always better, and less is not always enough.

We fight the good fight. We wield the sword of intensity with the right hand and clutch the shield of moderation with the left. The right conquers while the left tempers and defends.

“Moderation in all things,” said the wise guy quick to deliver clichés. “Yeah, right!” said the weightlifter preparing to move a ton of steel and the musclehead determined to get huge and ripped.

Moderation assures mediocrity—nice, safe. Mediocrity is for the mediocre—simple, okay. The intense rule; the mediocre follow.

Swell—until accident, injury, overtraining, illness, apathy, holidays and old age arrive on the scene with a smirk. Hello, Moderation.

Moderation is a very comfortable place to hang after intensity has cleared the way and plowed the fields. For those reluctant to embrace moderation, think of it as self control. I like the SSS application: severe self-control systems. Has a nice ring to it.

Today, hovering at 100, I find modified moderation works. I grip light weights that feel heavy and apply mild force that feels intense. Maximum-exertion moderation, or max-mod. I cannot do a set of six reps and stop if there’s another repetition within the immediate or distant vicinity. I must swat at it just as I’m compelled to swat at a fly that buzzes around my head at a picnic with friends featuring grass-fed hamburgers and raw vegetables and Bubbie’s pickled tomatoes. Yum.

Oh, excuse me. The men in the white coats are here to pick me up and take me away.

“It took you long enough.”

Be good, be strong, be courageous and be calm. The Bomb.

—Dave Draper

Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.



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