“Humbled Empowerment”

The gym is known to many as the temple where one improves their strength, stamina, and their overall health. Furthermore, the gym builds camaraderie among weightlifters over time. It forces all of us outside our comfort zone both physically and emotionally. But has anyone contemplated the humility that the gym instills in our minds?

I recently met a man in his golden age at a local gym. According to him, he should have already been dead because no other males in his family lived past a certain age. Instead, he defied the will of his genetic destiny by working out, thereby exceeding his fated death age by over a decade. Not only did he outlive his male relatives, he also retained a look so youthful for his age, I would have underestimated his age by several decades.

I also ran into an old mentor of mine at an unexpected venue and witnessed an unexpected stage of her health status for her age. Unlike the previous individual, this one took a sudden downfall in her health. One cannot overstate enough the ramifications of this particular disease’s onset. A once eloquent and physically energetic woman now currently relies on a support apparatus to help her walk and can barely articulate her thoughts at a fraction of her original verbal tempo.

These cases both illustrate the significance of living a healthy lifestyle. On one hand, nature dictates the timing and the severity of debilitating incidents, thereby possibly suggesting the futility of self-care. On the other hand, you are bestowed the much needed agency to defy the will of gravity – literally and figuratively.

I deliberately entitled this post “Humbled Empowerment” with air quotes. On the surface, nothing reminds you of humility better than reality and nothing empowers you more than the outcomes of maintaining that power. However, notice how the two cases are virtually antithetical to one another due to the trajectory of their fates. The questions remain:¬†What does this teach us? Are the two seemingly contradictory tales supposed to suggest anything if synthesized into a singular meaning?

Connecting two disparate ideas poses a great challenge, as my arbitrary mood dictates the weight of these superficially contradictory lessons. If I had retitled this post “Empowering Humility” instead of “Humbled Empowerment,” the difference would’ve stemmed from my internal interpretation or preference of the narrative. The air quotes illustrated that intellectual quandary.

My current raw understanding further mystifies the question: what is the true meaning behind the plot synthesis? Should I settle for two superficial takeaway lessons as separate items, or should I integrate the two through meta-analysis? God knows the answer and will deliver when the time is right. In the meantime, it behooves me to take these lessons at face value, no matter how paradoxical.