Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ability to Effect Change

Probably the most popular advertisements on the Web right now, are the ubiquitous "Before and after" shots of impressive muscular developments -- claiming one miracle product or another got them that way, when obviously, some are of truly freakish proportions that evoke justifiable skepticism, but also many other startling and impressive "transformations," which those familiar with these things, know can be not the result of six-months of time lapse photography, but the actual difference between "before" and "after" a single workout.

When I used to run a program in which we would dutifully measure every change we could think of at six-week intervals, what was actually the most impressive difference, was not the comparison between a "before" picture before commencing any training -- with the "before" picture after six weeks of training, but the "before" picture, with the "after" picture, at the conclusion of a six week training program. Which is to say, that one's ability to effect a momentary (immediate) change in appearance, is the greatest change, even more than actual body composition on a permanent long term basis.

Very few of the pictures offered as advertising "proof," exhibit a convincing degree of change not possible by a person who is gifted in effecting such momentary changes -- within a single workout, as much as could be possible over six weeks. But if the viewer was aware that that transformation could be effected immediately by those whose training made such changes immediately possible, that would be much more impressive than that it came about as a product of a substantial period of time. This is what bodybuilders do in "pumping up," as well as done by athletes, who warm up for their exhibited "attempts."

This is not unlike the tremendous focus required in actually many athletic activities -- particularly those of short duration, in which one hopes to move from full relaxation of all their muscles and faculties, to a full contraction of all their muscles in a split second with a very focused impact -- like shooting a gun or an arrow, or transferring that release of energy (power) to a shot or discus. Hitting a baseball or golf ball, requires that same focused contact -- of the total transfer of power in that split second of contact.

That's a fairly impressive ability to produce (effect) change -- very briefly, for a very few attempts, although prior to those single attempts, one will undoubtedly release a lot of nervous energy preparatory to their very focused, "official" attempts. That happens in every single movement, no matter how often repeated, and repeated often enough, makes us much less aware of these supreme efforts.

Most of the time, we don't even see an athlete or performer until after they have spent hours preparing themselves for their moment of "exhibition." You will then only witness them at their peak moments and think they are like that all the time, which they will not try to disabuse anybody of thinking that is so. It embellishes their public perception and image as a formidable presence.

But the truth is, even world champions slouch, and most times, are other than at their best. People are surprised to learn of these differences when seeing "movie stars" and other celebrities without their "makeup," or "game faces" on, while there are those who are impressive because they always seem to be "on." Better yet, are those who can turn it off and on, at a moment's notice -- which is not unlike the movements seen in dance performances that try to express a range of human emotions, and not simply one mind-blowing movement after another.

They know that even if they could do that inexhaustibly, such a presentation would lack the drama and effect of contrasts, which the ability to go from one state to another, and heightening the viewer to those differences. In this way, it is like any other human interaction and communication. One wants the viewer to know the changes being made -- rather than merely effecting them without notice, or gets taken for granted, no matter how awesome.

In such movements, every picture is a before and after comparison -- and is obvious which has to come first, because it would be equally accurate that the "after" be the "before" in any prolonged sequence. What is relevant, is the ability to produce that change, momentarily, at will.

That quality, and ability, is what is impressive as one's condition, and range of possibilities, rather than how long one can sustain a mediocre, undistinguishable activity for who cares how long. While this is very important in performances, it is also very important in daily human activities and interactions -- that excite and inspire on any occasion. One merely has an impression that one has witnessed something extraordinary -- whether it is a contested and judged event or not.

It imprints that indelible possibility for any time and occasion, and provides the foundation for comparison and improvement.


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