Saturday, June 28, 2008

All This Time

My heart has been heavy for the past few days, and driving home today the rain began to come down. Little at first, then thick, fat drops, then sheets of rain heavy as sin. Lightning flashed all around the only confirmation I had that the world existed outside of my car. This song was playing on my CD player.

From somewhere, I began first whispering, then saying, then screaming the word "trust."

trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, T R U S T!

Stanley! Trust! Believe!

God, I believe! Help thou my unbelief!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Another poem before I go out for my long run this morning. (10 miler) This time, it's William Ernest Henley and this is one of my favorites.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Some morning thoughts as I'm about to go do my hill sprints (Thanks for reading, Charles!):

Safety is the enemy of progress. How will a ship find the other shore when it never leaves the first one? Do not be safe, do not long for stability. Accept the danger, the thrill and exhilaration of the fact that you may very well die in this endeavor, that you may fail and that there may be disaster. If death and disaster come, smile and endure. Smile because you attempted something worth attempting and endure because you are a man, a cosmic being.

There is salvation only in extremes. Jesus was a lot of things but he was not well-adjusted, upper middle class with a safe and secure environment from where his emotionally-balanced approach to life helped him to actualize himself. No, Jesus was man perfected. His mission was to live perfectly, yet endure hatred from insects, vermin and rabble and die at their filthy hands. He went through with it. Mission accomplished.

My mission is to be Jesus-like. You may also read that as "God-like" if you wish. A man that protects, like he did when he confronted the power of the Pharisees and protected the woman caught in adultery, a man who provides, and a man who fights as he did in the temple driving out the moneychangers. Perhaps it may simply be my own eisegetical perspective but I cannot help but read Jesus as a hot-blooded, passsionate man. I reject any view of him that makes him a serene, mountaintop yogi castrado. No, he is not soft. As C.S. Lewis said of Aslan, "He is not a tame lion." He's not a safe lion. But he's a good lion.

Salvation only in extremes. My rebellion is against the seething cesspool of mediocrity that we call 21st century America. Salvation in extremes. What are people doing with their lives? They pour their (very-marginal) efforts into trying to secure as much safety and security for their futures as they can. They want to entertain themselves into oblivion. No, NO,


Plunge myself into danger, discomfort. Throw myself into an unknown, stressful environment. Feel the fear, feel it course through your veins. The heart pounds faster, the head spins, non-vital functions shut off. You know why people who are terrified pee uncontrollably? It's because the body doesn't need to hold urine now. It's moving all the blood to the heart and muscles so that you can fight off a wolf or run away from a bear. Let my soul do the same. Jettison the useless portions. Move blood, fire, peauvoir to the vital areas.

A soft bed to come home to? Do not need.
Softball every Sunday? Do not need.
Stable, quiet job where I can be left alone? Do not need.
World's finest cuisine in a 20-minute radius? Do not need.
Contact with friends and family? Do not need.

And let me shock you now:
Watching my favorite team in their beautiful new stadium? Do. Not. Need.

What do I need?

A spiritual crucible.

Raw material, freshly ripped from the earth's womb is thrown in and a masterpiece emerges. Hard. Cold. Strong and beautiful as steel. Something to make man ashamed of their existence.

You only see what a man is like when you push him beyond his abilities; when you break him. Will I be the man that I hope I'll be? Will I be a quivering coward running back to his mother's skirt? Talk is cheap. We will see how much my soul is worth.

I will leave this country in less than a year. I will not come back soon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thank you, Jack


More today than yesterday.
More tomorrow than today.

Keep on trucking.

No Coward Soul Is Mine

Ah, how did I come across this again? Emily, you were always my favorite.

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Reality Bath

All I really know about this title is that Mark Twight used it in his book "Kiss or Kill" and that it's the name of, if I recall correctly, a frozen waterfall.

That's beautiful.

I think waterfalls are awesome places of power, fury and constancy. I loved visiting Niagra with Peter and some Buffalo people a few years ago. I wish they didn't have those ridiculous lights turning the waterfall, pink, green, blue, purple, chartreuse. Instead, I would've loved to be on a very small boat or skiff at the basin, full moon turning those million gallons of rushing water into beautiful mirrors. I wish I could be in my small sliver of wood or tin, deafened by Niagra's fury. I am on a quest to forge my body into its most perfect form, lean, powerful, strong, enduring. But no matter what heights I achieve, I will never compare to these cataracts. Awesome. AWESOME! I want to float tremulously in that small boat, shouting and laughing. What amazing power!

Now imagine it frozen. Stark, perfect beauty. I picture it in my mind's eye. The lines, the movement, the suggestion of speed, the suggestion of power, the form of fury and expressed in the cold, statuesque elegance of ice.


I remember in Twight's essay, how as he climbed that waterfall alone, he thought how suited this name was for the waterfall. Reality Bath. If you had any delusions about your beauty, they were stripped away when you climbed this high-grade mountain of slick, ice. Winds whipping around you, flaying you alive as they find their way through every crevice of clothing, hands numb from gripping onto nothing but ice and steel. As you look down, I suppose, you can only imagine what it must be like to fall hundreds of feet onto the hard, unforgiving ice. I wonder if anyone will have the courage to imagine their skull being sundered in an explosion of blood. The reality bath.

The reality bath.

I imagine the reality bath is going to be the very opposite of a bubble bath. Not warm. But freezing. Not comforting. But agonizing. I imagine it to be like a full body immersion in freezing acid. First the nerves and system are shocked. Then everything dissolves, layer by layer. The deceptions that we wrap ourselves in, the comfortable things we say to ourselves to repair and shield our egos from the terrible TRUTH, these things are dissolved. And each shell of lies comes off painfully until even the very structure of our lives, the bones, are nothing more than dust and scum on the surface.

The reality bath.

The truth is rarely going to be pleasant, particularly when it is about who we are. But like Twight and Bruce Lee, men who I admire in many respects, it is about progress and it is about becoming who we are and finding who we were that we take these reality baths. It is about the reality of our very existence.

Don't be afraid of pain.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Psalm 46

To the Choirmaster.
Of the Sons of Korah.
According to Alamoth.

A song.

God is our refuge and strength
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though
the earth give way,
though the mountains be moved into
the heart of the sea
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble
at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams
make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most

God is in the midst of her; she
shall not be moved.
God will help her when
morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms
he utters his voice, the earth

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our
fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the
how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes the wars cease to the end of
the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters
the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Friday, June 20, 2008


"I just can't go heavy."

You can always get medium sets of medium reps with medium weights. It's like what Socrates tells Dan Millman; basically, this is like lukewarm tea, "the Devil's brew!" Medium is the death song for training. You can train medium (also known as "crappy") for years and years while making no progress. Let's be honest, go find average in everything. Buy the damn pale green, four-door Ford Escort of your dreams and go wave at hot babes. Get all C's and then ask your counselor, "What's my skill set?"

In other words, training a lot at lousy is still lousy. If you "can't go heavy," back off until you can!

From Dan John in this article.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Synapse to synapse

"And if his chest were a cannon, he would have shot his heart at her."

-- Melville, Moby Dick

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perfect Timing

God's timing is funny.

LINK to a New Yorker Article on God and suffering, the question of theodicy.

My initial thoughts.

The author gets the particulars right until just about the end of page 4.

I, Stanley Lee, declare myself to be a Christian. I also think heaven is no big deal and not the answer to my suffering. Will probably write more another time.

God Of Our Sorrows

This entry grew out of an e-mail I prepared for my NYU Bible Study group last Thursday morning. That evening we discussed suffering, and many suffering related topics. On the train ride home, I couldn't stop thinking about it because as anyone (any one of the 3 maybe 4 regular readers that I have that is) can attest, it's a subject near and dear to my heart.

Without further ado,

If we're talking about suffering, we would be remiss if we did not discuss the role perspective plays in the enduring and experiencing suffering.

Let me give an example. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, soon to be moved to my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I wake up at 5am to go out and do a running workout, hill sprints. It doesn't matter if it's -20 or 96 like this past Tuesday. The run must be done.

A sprint is an all-out effort. If you are keeping anything in reserve, if you are pacing yourself, if you are letting fear of death by heart failure hold you back, you are not sprinting. Hill sprints must be intense.

When I get home after this workout, I will lay on the floor and breathe heavily for 5-10 minutes, disoriented. Twice, I've vomitted after I finished running. Every single time, I feel like I should. When I finally get in the shower, I turn the water on its coldest setting and let it run over me. The cold is necessary to stop the lactic acid from burning through my muscles. It sometimes causes my body to spasm painfully.

Why am I describing in gruesome detail one of my workouts? I do it to illustrate a point. To understand suffering, we must understand its perspective and its purpose. Hill sprints are among my most painful workouts. But I plan out the previous day, sleeping at 10:30 to wake up at 5 so that I can perform this workout. As a matter of fact, I will be upset if I don't get this workout in.

Why? Because I have a goal in mind. I want to shave 3 minutes per mile off my 10k time by December. More than that, I do this because I have always been big and slow. I want to show the world, to show myself that I am no slave to genetics. It does not get to dictate to me how fast I can run. My soul and my character determine that.

Because I have that goal in mind, this pain and suffering is bearable. Enduring it becomes, dare I say? Easy.

How do we live our lives? Do not answer that question. Any spoken answer is worthless. The only answer of any value is the answer we live. Suffering is the crucible where our delusions and lies, the dross of an ethical life, beautifully lived, melts away. Suffering shows us as we are.

How do we live our lives? Or perhaps, why do we live our lives? What are our lives to us? I think for the vast portion of humanity, certainly Western and Westernized Civilization lives their lives to maximize a sensation of stupor and contentment. They don't want to live so much as they want to be sedated, to be numbed, put into a catatonic state by having things in life. What these things are makes no difference. The desire for another kilo of cocaine to snort or smoke and the desire to have a loving family and healthy children is no different here. The question is why? Most often people do these things because they believe it will make them happy. Anything that happens that upsets the future prospects of happiness is an abhorrence to them. Because it is written into the Constitution, it must be an ontological right of human beings.

No. Not really.

How, I wonder, would people, Christians, living for their own happiness read Ephesians 2:10? "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Or speaking of Christ in Colossians 1:16 "... all things were created by him and for him." Even last week in our study we read "To God's elect... chosen according to the foreknowledge of God... for the obedience to Jesus Christ..." And as it says elsewhere, we are not our own. We were bought at a price.

I think if we have this perspective on our suffering, that our lives are not centered on ourselves, it will have a profound impact on the particular way we approach the suffering, tragedies and disasters of our lives. If our ultimate concern is ourselves and the particular sensations of pain instead of its purpose, I think we will be deficient in our response to suffering. But if we understand that our life is only an instrument for God's glory, we can endure. What can the disastrous "Name it and Claim it" camp or the sickly saccarine positive thinking/ positive energy faction offer in competition with this? God has never promised a house for living, a job for earning, companions for loving or healing from dying but he has promised that he works in all things, for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. They may offer (false) promises of things to have in this life but do those hollow things compare with a God who not only knows our sorrows but is the Sovereing Lord who will use our pain and produce good; true, substantial, eternal good?

A word on feel-good pop Christianity for a moment. I hate every thing I have ever heard come out of Joel Osteen's program. I really cannot stand seeing his books in the Christian section of bookstores. The underlying premise of everything I have ever hear him say, of everything I have ever seen him write is that God wants to give you your best life now and just follow these positive principles and you can do it.

What would he say, pray tell, to a martyr of the faith? What would he say about a woman who after being brutally raped and beaten was then hacked to pieces by a mob of machetes because she would not deny Christ? What would he say about men imprisoned for decades because they had professed their faith? Positive thinking? No. There is no true, substantial similarity between the perspective of martyrs and the perspective of positivity. Martyrs have endured their suffering because I believe many of them have glimpsed the eternity that God has placed in their hearts. I have a conviction that many of them fixed their eyes on Jesus who endured much worse suffering than any of us will ever suffer and therein found comfort for their own struggles.


Martyrs endured beyond death. I believe they did it because they saw in their suffering God's enduring and sovereign hand moving towards the redemption of a broken world. And if I can work towards that, then any suffering I endure will be worth it.


Monday, June 9, 2008

A Tastier Fastball

My God, I love baseball so much sometimes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


"Everything is text. Everything has a story."

My mentor from undergrad told me that and that has always stuck with me.

Even for the few that do recognize this truth, how rare is it to find in that already small population, those who apply that knowledge to their body.

Every body has a story. Every part of the body has its own story as well. Those two, small, barely noticable discolorations on my left forearm? Those came from paintballing, when two Texans with their rifles surrounded me during a good friend's bachelor party. The chip on my front, right incisor came from being thrown over a fence in 6th grade. But there are more stories than just these tiny anecdotes.

My entire body tells a greater tale. My stature, 6' tall, broad shoulders, naturally pale skin say that I'm not a thorough-bred Cantonese boy. My paternal grandparents came from the North of China where they grow their boys country-big. My father, unfortunately, missed out on this genetic handout and looks like the more typically squat and swarthy farmer. Physically, I'm not particularly Chinese-looking until I wear sandals and show my elongated second toe, a trademark of the Han Chinese. I am a mixture. I am a story with a thousand beginnings, a million origins.

I am a story that crosses continents, lives, deaths, cultures, boundaries.

My story isn't particularly special or unique. Others have stories. They too have a thousand, ten-thousand beginnings and a million, a billion origins.

You can say that my story began as a faint, beating hope in my father's heart as he swam across the sea to Hong Kong, some of his family dying that night. Or you can say that I began as a fancy, a daydream in my mother's mind when that scruffy food-worker scribbled a poem to her on a greasy napkin. Or perhaps from before the beginning of time, from before spermatazoa, gonadotropins, nucleic acids, and life itself I began as a thought in the mind of game, an image from beyond eternity, one on whom the Almighty, the Infinite has set his heart and affection.

I'm not special. I just see things this way. In sharing this story, I had no real desire for anything other than to interact with the 2 or 3 people that do frequent this blog. Bodies are just one set of stories, but I like them because every change is recorded. Even attempts to mis-direct or mis-lead are part of the story. You can't delete or edit the story. It's a record of the soul itself.

I don't make any exceptions for those born with diseases, blind, lame, mute or those who have had amputations. The body's record then shows the person's true character better than my body does. My body has only battled against it's own soul, to try to forge itself. A person who has had an amputation or a disease, their body shows their grit, their courage, their true character. These are precious lifeboats of human history.

I have no idea what possessed me to write this entry this morning.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

More on the Mind-Body Complex

Link (T-Nation interview with Mark Mahler)

The article was a worthwhile read, and of course anything involving Bruce Lee is pretty much guaranteed to be a worthwhile listen. Here's an excerpt from the article.

... Finally, the most important part of functional strength, the
part that's completely overlooked by most people, is this: It makes you a
stronger and tougher person overall, not just strong in the context of working

I've seen many people that are training bad-asses, but are
complete pushovers in their personal and professional life.
They avoid risks like the plague, don't have the courage to pursue the
lives they really want, and couldn't make a tough decision if their lives
depended on it.

They always go with the flow, never trust their instincts, and
constantly look to others to make decisions for them. They've completely
compartmentalized their strength and conditioning and don't carry it over to any
other aspect of their lives.

While they have strength and toughness in the context of physical
training, that strength doesn't carry over to where it really matters. It's
wasted. If you're strong and in shape when it comes to working out, but a wuss
everywhere else, then you're not a strong person overall and you've missed out
on the most important benefit of training.

Hard training teaches us how to push through
when things aren't
easy and finish what we start
. Transforming your body and building a
high level of strength takes a lot of discipline and hard work.
Physical accomplishments, whether it's losing 30 pounds of fat, adding 50 pounds
to your bench press, or running a marathon,
teach you a lot about
and help break mental barriers that hold you back in life.

It's a complete shame if we only have that strength and mental
toughness in the context of working out.

When you push through hard workouts and learn the discipline of training consistently in order to reach a goal, you have very powerful self-knowledge and skill sets which can help you push through in other important areas of life. However, if you compartmentalize who you are as a trainee from who you are in the rest of your life, the benefits won't carry over. That's a travesty!
Ironically, I see many people train the way they should be living their lives and many people live their lives the way they should be training!

One thing I love about Bruce Lee (and I said this about Lalanne as well) is that he doesn't bifurcate the spiritual and physical but he sees them as an indivisable unit. This is similar to Lalanne's belief that we are slaves to our own bodies. When our body is tired, we lay down. When we are hungry, we forage for food. It goes on and on.