The Iron

“I believe that one defines oneself by re-invention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.” – Henry Rollins


These are the opening lines of what would be the most impactful piece of writing I’ve ever digested. “Re-invention”, “To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.” What does that even mean? What exactly is it I’m re-inventing? I’m carving from that which I already possess, stone. I’m not bringing anything into being to be re-invented. I’m working from that which I already have. What directs me is an image in my head of what I want to carve, and the process of carving informed by that imagery. If your scope is broad, you’ll see that this isn’t just about lifting weights. It’s about the lessons learned from wholehearted devotion to what you call your teacher in life. Craftwork. We’re all bowing to something and if we aren’t, we suffer for it.

The Iron,” by Henry Rollins, awoken within me an itch I’ve been scratching since I first read it some 30 years ago. The questions it raised in me have been spiraling through my head ever since. At the time of this writing, they still are, and I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. Answers would be the worst thing in the world because they would stop the exploration. And what fun is there in that?

More specifically, what life lessons could be possibly learned from the lifting of weights? I hope most could think of a few, but a big one is what Hank mentions in this piece. “When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you.” What? Kind? I’m trying to reach my “goals” and this friggin’ thing won’t move! How is that kind?

The iron is kind in its constraint. It’s a reminder of what we currently are not and so provides information that makes our path clearer. For most, millions of reps are required before the path is clarified even a little. But it’s all about the path and what you learn about what you are not so that you may better know what you are. The end has no end, and so there is no physical perfection. There is only this piece of stone and what you learn from carving it. What I’ve learned is that we only learn and evolve from doing hard things. Nothing makes you better at doing the hard things in life than the physical strength that comes from proper care of the body. Nothing. I’ll put my money behind that statement. Try being in great shape, standing (or sitting) tall and being depressed at the same time. Won’t happen. Eat, sleep, train, pay attention, and be a good person. “The Iron” leaves nothing out. Enjoy.”

-Albert Coleman

A picture of me with PHX Strength Clients at a Rollins Show.


ReadThe Iron
by Henry Rollins