Mike Tyson, Alignment, Abyss, and A Way Back
In his recent op ed piece for the New York Times, Mike Tyson offers a glimpse into his current struggles as a recovering addict, and how as such, discipline isn't something you strive for just as a new year's resolution but something "necessary for every moment."
He describes how very disciplined he was when he was fighting his way to becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history. You can see that discipline in the photo above. Eye of the tiger. The kind of discipline that you put on every day because everything is aligned ... your coach, your vision, your body, your mind, your skills ... your complete being. The discipline you stay committed to, even when people try to tear you down.
He describes how everything spiraled down when the alignment got messed up ... with his coach passing away, with his goals having become achievements rather than goals, and the birth of an entourage that got him high as a kite and out of touch.
The article makes me think about alignment. Especially this time of year. There's something about January and the number 1 that makes us feel that there is a clean and disciplined slate ahead of us.
But I don't think it's just necessarily the name of a month or the number 1 that can get us in alignment. Other things have to come together. And I think those "other things" are different for different people. When they come together, they just do and it works. And we find discipline. It can happen January 1st or March 31st. In the morning or in the middle of the night. But when they don't come together, we might taste discipline but it's fleeting and it goes away and we frequently beat ourselves up for falling short. But I wonder if it should be less about beating ourselves up and more about investigating what the elements for our true alignment need to be. Getting real and honest and vulnerable about what we need, regardless of how others might judge what we need.
In terms of fitness, I definitely think it's all about alignment. For some, Weight Watchers works because it just does. Have you seen Jennifer Hudson for goodness sake? For others, it's running, or biking, or boxing, or an intense body combat program ... or eating vegetarian, or eating paleo, or eating raw, or eating many small meals or eating a big lunch and small dinner. Some need a support group or trainer, while others need complete silence.
Bottom line: elements for alignment are unique to each person.
For all my life but definitely for the past 5 years or so, I've been really passionate about fitness. This year, part of my alignment is an image I found on the Internet. The image inspires me so I have a copy of it placed in strategic places, including my organizer. It's also in my kitchen and in my bathroom. Another alignment element for me is actually the assorted social network platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and this blog. By being able to post updates on my workouts and eating habits, it motivates me and keeps me accountable. Other elements include great fitness coaches, a palate that has come to love clean food, and a schedule that allows me to shop for and prepare clean food.
Tyson's commentary makes me think about how in many ways, the important thing in life is the journey and not the destination. My abs aren't terrible right now ... they're actually pretty good ... but I like the thrill and challenge of aiming for better as I focus on the journey and the vision and not the destination.
Perhaps a year from now my alignment elements will change and this image will be replaced by a chant ... and rest assured ... someone will be there to pooh-pooh my chant. Just like there are those who pooh-pooh images like this one as being shallow and vain. People like to pooh-pooh elements of alignment that work for others. People love Jennifer Hudson but people also love to tear her down. Same thing with Tyson. Same thing for you, him, her, them, us, me.
To all of this I say this: Once you find your unique elements that work, hold on to them if you want to. Because you know what?
What works works.
And what doesn't, doesn't.
Don't let anyone shame or judge your elements of alignment that work.
But even if there are times when your alignment feels off or completely lost, and the choices you make, one after another, are bad and you know they are bad, and even after huge falls into the abyss wher you know you are in a cesspool that is vile ... with people who are bad and you know things are not working, I think Tyson is living a story that shows that there is a way out, and there is a way back to alignment and back to living the journey. Not the destination.