What I’m Reading
All Joy No Fun – The Paradox of Modern Parenthood- Jennifer Senior
Teaching other people’s children is supposed to be the best form of contraceptive. But as I make my way through my 40’s, the question of whether or not I want my own progeny becomes a timely and pertinent question. The contentious issues both in favour for and “against” having children in this modern day context are brilliantly discussed in this book.
I simply can’t do this book justice in a simple review; it goes so much deeper than what I’m merely summarising here. But one of the big issues noted earlier in the discussion is the level of sacrifice involved in becoming a parent. Science reveals that people without children are generally happier in all metrics including their intimate relationships, finances and personal actualisation. A life minus kids frees one from the drain and strain on your sleep patterns, sex life, time and money. Kids are no longer an investment as they once were in bygone eras where they contributed to the family’s bottom line; now they unequivocally detract from it in all senses of the word.
And these arguments are just a small part of Senior’s thesis on the 21st century trials and tribulations involved with child rearing. The “no-fun” arguments are many, varied and tangible. The “joy” component seems an amorphous and elusive counterargument used by parents to “justify” an otherwise “bad” decision to reproduce whether intentional or otherwise.
The book does push my thinking towards abandoning the desire to ever reproduce despite all the pro-offered encouragement from friends and family (all who have invariably had children themselves) that “I’d make an awesome dad”. Maybe deep down I know I won’t. Maybe I’m not willing to make the lifelong sacrifice and commitment. I look at their lives and think “fuck that noise”. Maybe teaching little ones is enough and my joy lies in the fact that I can hand them back at the end of the day.
The book will definitely have you thinking if you’re contemplating this important future issue and it’s far-reaching and obviously irreversible consequences.
Read it and gift it to anyone thinking of making the leap into the abyss.
The Fighter’s Mind – Inside the Mental Game – Sam Sheridan
I’ve read many books on the mental art of toughness, discipline development and sports psychology, so I wasn’t expecting too much from this except for perhaps a synthesis and reframing of the varied existing theories applied to fighting. What I walked away with was any number of game-changing insights and lessons learned on how to develop and appreciate the importance of the mind when applied to any endeavour, including my own personal passion of bodybuilding and strength training.
Yes, to call this book a “game-changer” isn’t simple review hyperbole – it will literally alter the way you think and approach your chosen endeavour whether you’re a fighter or not.
Fighting is perhaps the perfect context for discussing the mental strategies of sport’s psychology. You have the training and mental lead up to a match where the objective is to brutalise your opponent in a ring surrounded by a forum of your peers or the greater public. Money, pride, ego and personal safety are but a few things that are on the line whether you win or lose. The fight happens in real time and involves presence, strategy and any number of psychological and cognitive tools to draw on. And all of this needs to happen both at the conscious and mindless level, lest you find yourself face down on the canvass. Whether victory or failure ensues, lessons will be learned from the experience.
I don’t want to give too much away here, but Sheridan’s highly developed and researched book extrapolates the mental approaches from a range of fighting arts and their practitioners – the lessons learned from victories won and battles lost, the nature of sustaining the day to day grind, how athletes endure the physical rigours which require a level of discipline and fortitude under-appreciated by the non-athlete and perhaps never experienced by those who never transition to the higher echelons of any sport.
Sheridan is extremely thorough in leaving no stone unturned and he travels to many parts of the world interviewing and researching coaching icons such as Pat Millitich, Greg Jackson the Gracie Family, to fighters Randy Couture, Kenny Florian and diverse fighter-philosophers such as Josh Waitzkin to name but a few.
Be warned, It’s not a 12 step program of “do this and then that” style coaching. The lessons are contained within and extrapolated through Sheridan’s discussion and reflections on his interactions with industry icons, historical references and personal experiences.
However, I defy you to read this book and not take away not only a large number of lessons you can apply to your own game but also the tools to assist you in living in the moment, strategies to apply to beating pressure, and enhancing your game in ways you’ve never even contemplated beyond the realm of simple physical training.
What I’m Watching
My Thai Bride
Thailand is known as the land of smiles. It’s a land where money buys not only freedom, but anything else you might desire. There’s only one crime in Thailand and that’s to be poor. When the money runs out – so too do the smiles.
This documentary tracks the misadventures of British expat, Ted who like many before him leaves his country of origin to start a second life in Thailand with his newly acquired Thai girl and soon bride to be, Tip.
His story is familiar to anyone who’s spent significant time in Thailand to the point that it’s practically cliche. At first, Tip makes Ted’s life easy in Thailand. Navigating the language and commercial barriers on his behalf, she slowly gains control over both Ted’s trust and purse strings.
With an equally massaged cock and ego, Ted blissfully abdicates control over his logic and senses, signing over his life to his new, and for some reason, suddenly less loving Thai Bride.
Before the ink is even dry on their marriage certificate, Ted is left broke, homeless and begging for an airfare home from the former “love of his life”.
You can’t feign the disdain and utter reaction of disgust that registers on his wife’s face as she tells him to “fuck off forever” from the house he built by the film’s end as he gropes for one last hug, kiss or sign of human affection from his dream turned nightmare spouse.
Do these guys deserve it?
A sobering look at the economics of love as a 3rd world commodity.
The third Wright/Pegg collaboration in what is referred to as “The Cornetto Trilogy” (see the films to discover why) is a highly undervalued gem that managed to escape most people’s radar – again, mine included.
But this cop-film-piss-take is highly watchable for its endlessly quotable script, hilarious cameos, layered in-jokes and a barely recognisable appearance from actor playing The Hound from Game of Thrones.
What I’m Listening To
Former child Chess Prodigy, martial artist and author of the fantastic book, “The Art of Learning”. Ferriss’ second interview with Waitzkin goes deep on a range of topics from cognitive biases, learning, father-hood, meditation and mental development. Definitely worth a listen.
Superb round table between the Geard Up team and Justin Harris, Dr. Scott Stevenson and Phil Viz on dieting, contest prep, IIFYM and optimal gear usage. The guests go deep and there’s a wealth of knowledge and debate that’s worth your time invested on this cracker of an episode.
Quote of the Week
highly apropos given the name of this site…
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.” – Alexis Carrel
Pic of The Week
The image of perfection that I aspire to.