Better than a tattoo?

Check out that picture above and look at that scoop of a scar on my bicep. Almost where it meets my shoulder.

It’s more deformation than a scar I suppose.  The result of an old football injury. 

A muscle tear is a peculiar feeling.  It reminded me then of quartering a buck I’d shot a few years prior, my uncle chiding me for laboring through with a dull knife.

“You won’t make that mistake again,” he chuckled. His Jeam Beam breath lingering in the needling sleet.

I didn’t. Lesson learned.

And now – like today – when I catch a glimpse of that gouge in my arm a cascade of well-rehearsed… aphorisms?… issue forth.  Like momentos left scrawled on perfumed paper in some keepsake chest stashed away in my subconscious.  My own accumulation of wisdom and secrets. My own Art of War.

“One foot in chaos, one in stability.”

“To fully live means to risk death.”

“Security or freedom; pick one.”

But mostly it reminds me of what Annie Duke suggests in her brilliant book, Thinking in Bets.  That the game of life is not so much chess as it is Texas Hold ‘Em. 

In chess, for any given the situation on the board, there IS one best move.  Mathematically, THE best move. And that one best move can, given enough time and number-crunching power, be calculated.  This is why computers dominate even the best masters.

Not so with poker. A game that hinges on probability.  Psychology, intuition, and strategy.  A game where each participant’s flip-of-the-wrist sets the dealt hand careening headlong into unnavigated territory.  A game where the best dealt, drawn and tossed cards can lose to the worst.  A game where nothing is certain; where every outcome is measured only in the probability of its happening.

That gouge in my arm reminds me of the high-risk /high-reward chance I took on a must-stop down in a must-win game in my college years. And the free safety who covered my ass when I came up short and broken. It reminds me of young hubris; the sting of defeat and gratitude for tested-by-fire tribe.

It reminds me that nothing in life is a given.  That best-made plans can be sunk in an instant.

And it also reminds me of resilience.  The ability to dust-off, heal-up, and bounce back stronger than before. 

Scarred?  Certainly.  Disfigured?  In a way, absolutely. The years, if you live them right, will do that to you.

They’ll make you – if you work them right – (and as Nassim Taleb would say), “antifragile”.  Stronger having survived the battle.

Talk soon –

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Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.


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