Ultimately, we're all worm food
So big-time motivational speaker Anthony Robbins is conducting one of his week-long, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me seminars. This one's in Hawaii, and his acolytes are there in force. They're all sitting there in an auditorium looking like zombies, waiting for Anthony to appear. The look on their faces is like Tom Cruise in that "Jerry McGuire" movie when he tells Renee Zellweger, "You...complete me." And you can bet they've shown Anthony the money. Eight thousand dollars of it. Each of them. Not bad work if you can get it.
The auditorium lights go out and the stage is illuminated. There, in a cage, is the 6'7" Robbins, and no, he hasn't been arrested by Hawaiian authorities for committing an obscene act with a pineapple; he's apparently going to do some sort of bonehead David Copperfield magic act and, by the looks of it, this one won't get him laid by supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Robbins' assistant throws a huge tapestry over the entire cage, obscuring the motivational speaker from the audience. Then, the cable attached to the top of the cage starts to haul the entire celestial elevator up toward the ceiling, and one can only wonder if it'll go straight to heaven or stop in the sporting goods section on the 13th floor.
The thing stops rising when it's about 20 feet off the floor and the tapestry is pulled off, only to reveal that Anthony has disappeared! He's left town with all their money! He's been kidnapped by aliens who want to probe his rectum! All manner of conjecture fills the auditorium. But no! Anthony suddenly appears high over their heads! He's attached to another cable and he's slowly being lowered toward the floor! He's going to descend, Christ-like, into their midst! But suddenly, Christ's pants get caught in the pulley. He's flopping around up there like a grouper caught on a fishing line. He's got two choices, rip off his pants and come back to Terra Firma in his Fruit of the Looms, or hope to get rescued. He opts for the latter and his assistant climbs up the cable, but he's just too small to muscle the 260-pound giant free.
Things begin to look really grim, and it looks like Robbins is going to try and outdo the late WWF wrestler Owen Hart, who recently did a double-gainer into the turnbuckle from 50 feet up in Kansas City. By this time, Robbins is nearing physical exhaustion and his arms are shaking. Luckily, there's a fireman in the audience, and years of rescuing cats from trees has prepared him for this moment. He jumps onto the stage, climbs up the rope and, with a few deft moves, frees the Sansabelt slack from the pulley and helps lower the visibly shaken Robbins to the stage.
Somehow, Robbins' entrance wasn't exactly as grandiose as he had hoped. Instead of looking like a god, he looked like a regular goofball. One of us.
Now, I have no problem with Anthony Robbins and, on a certain level, I admire his moneymaking ability. Still, his message never rang true for me, but I've always had disdain for the majority of motivational speakers. Why? Because sooner or later, they start committing the sin the ancient Greeks labeled as hubris. In the strict dictionary sense, hubris is an "exaggerated pride or self-confidence that often results in retribution," but the Greeks coined the word to describe what happens when man thinks he's a god.
Now, the gods never did like it when a man started to think he was their equal, so they'd often seek revenge. Usually, this took the form of making their crops wither and die, or taking away some special power the guilty party had like, say for instance, Athena had granted some Greek stud the power to satisfy an endless number of women. Stud boy starts thinking he's really hot stuff, and instead of going to Athena's temple and paying homage by laying down some new CDs from the Greek Ricky Martin, he thinks he doesn't need her anymore and goes over to nail Socrates' wife when he's off at a philosopher's convention. Athena gets pissed and, as punishment, turns his dick into a dried up fig. From then on, the only time the Greek babes call him up is if they need him to come over and act as a garnish at a dinner party.
Sometimes, though, the act of retribution would be simpler, like sending a lightning bolt up someone's ass. I'm not sure, but I think some angry god somewhere thought that Anthony Robbins got a little too full of himself and decided to fuck with him a little.
Hubris did Hitler in, although I think the Devil had his eyes on him a lot longer than any Greek gods did. Hubris started to chip away at billionaire software guy Bill Gates by sending legions of antitrust lawsuits his way, but he seems to be buying some more time by giving away a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there. Clinton certainly fell prey to it and, although he seems to have escaped, history will forever picture him at his desk conducting government business while his pants are around his knees and some dumpy Polish chick is polishing the Presidential knob. Yep, sometimes, the gods have a pretty good sense of humor.
On a more personal level, I've seen scores of associates in this-here business of bodybuilding committing acts of hubris. They arise humbly enough, but when the fan letters or the constant slaps on the back or the ever-increasing sales of their products reach a certain point, they start believing that they're masters of the universe. They begin to think that they have the right to inflate their chests and strut around like prize roosters, the right to be rude and, moreover, the right to be dishonest.
Sooner or later, though, they stumble. I've seen various colleagues go to jail because they thought that they were above the laws of the land. I've seen others build empires and erect huge temples to themselves and, in the process, lose all of their friends, alienate their families, and plain turn into miserable human beings.
Others get away more easily. They just turn into insufferable assholes.
And this is all because they've created some sort of name for themselves in bodybuilding. I'm sorry, but the world — no, the universe — doesn't give a rat's ass about bodybuilding. In the scheme of things, we're a pimple on the butt of the cosmos...and so is everybody else in any other field of endeavor. Ego is just plain silly. Ultimately, we're all worm food.
I often joke about this, but it's not too far off the mark when I mention that Tim Patterson and I — and, for that matter, anybody who works for us — are just a few of the steadily-shrinking group of people in this industry who've never been indicted on any criminal charges. It's not that we go around looking for boy scouts to join the company or anything, it's just that people with similar ideals often find each other. It's not that we're better than anybody else; in fact, it's the opposite: we're just like everybody else. We've always managed to stay grounded, keep the egos in check and, as a result, remember to play by the rules. As a result, the gods have been kind.
Similarly, the guy who spends all day at the gym and who's created a tremendous physique deserves some admiration for that particular feat, but his success in bodybuilding doesn't necessarily give him points in any other endeavor. True, it shows conviction, the ability to carry out a goal, and even some heroism, but it doesn't mean that the rest of humanity is his footstool. The nerdiest guy in the gym is probably a Mr. Olympia in some area, one where you, in comparison, are Don Knotts.
The only people on this-here Earth who have bragging rights — at least in my book — are those who have won a gold medal in the Olympics (for some real sport, not synchro-swimming or anything) and a Nobel Prize for science or literature or something. I'll quietly sit by and let that person — should he or she ever surface — spout off about anything that he or she wants to. I'll even rub that person's feet and maybe get him some ice for his Diet Coke, should he desire it.
Anybody else, though, better act like a human being around me, or I'll sic the gods on their asses.
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