It was back in the summer of ’01 when I unknowingly began a life-changing discourse with a man I had known for some time. The subject was one of which I was very fond, personal development. The conversation didn’t initially start out on topic though. At first, we discussed self-care, as in, things that we were doing to take care of ourselves. Very soon into the talk however, the focus turned from Maintaining health to Establishing new ground. That new ground was “Body-Building”.
Within an eye’s blink, our exchange sprang to life and more quickly than I had expected. This shouldn’t have surprised me for it wasn’t as if I was new to the topic. I had been Body-Building for many years and the mere mention of it brought much excitement to our talk. He appeared to be well versed in the subject and our dialogue continued at length.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, my talk-partner had also been a Body-Builder for quite a while. When I found this out, I was a bit shocked. Eyeing him up and down, he did not show any of the traditional signs of a man involved in such practice. As someone who was personally involved in this Work, the outward signs of his Body-Building efforts were not obvious to me, even though he sounded like he knew an awful lot about it.
As our chat unfolded, my initial observations went unheeded. His enthusiasm for Body-Building overwhelmed me. Furthermore, his excitement in my interest was only overshadowed by what he earnestly believed he needed to share about his Body-Building love interest. His energy directed much of our conversation in those moments.
He told me that he held Body-Building to such high esteem that he wore an odd-looking “B” shaped nose-ring denoting how far he had progressed in his devotion to this concern. This revelation alone explained well why he wore it so proudly. He claimed that there was so much involved in Body-Building that other interested devotees, people he knew personally, had created multitudes of affiliated Body-Building clubs and groups whose sole purpose was to promote Body-Building. It was no surprise to me that I soon learned that he was a member of all of them!
As I listened to him, I was dazzled by the shear magnitude of Body-Building’s systemic expansion. I had no idea of its shear magnitude. That expansion was quite telling. And he gleefully hinted that these other affiliate organizations could be joined also, but only after I joined the first.
I was intrigued by all his information. Having been both interested and actively engaged in Body-Building for some time, albeit on my own terms and with my own equipment, I was startled by the possibility of further Building with others. I asked him how I could possibly join in on all this fun. He quickly pulled out of his back pocket a signed membership application to one of the many local Gymnasiums.
This specific application was to the one that he belonged to only a few miles down the road from my home. He conveyed to me with a smile and a wink that it is best to belong to a Gym where you knew members locally. He added quickly that it was a common belief held as a truism by the membership that new members faired much better in their Body-Building efforts when those they surrounded themselves with were familiar to them.
Well, I must say that his enthusiasm for his Gym swept me away. Within a very short time, I witnessed my intrigue driving thoughts and actions toward joining. I reviewed the application with great scrutiny. I talked it over with my wife, several times in fact. I kept circling back to two questions that seemed to be truly unrelated to what I perceived to be Body-Building.
The first question left me confused. It focused upon what I believed. I couldn’t see the relevance of what I believed in relation to Body-Building. It simply didn’t make much sense to me to ask such a question considering the focus of the Work that I desired to do. I tried rationalizing it. I tried looking at it from a spiritual side. I even tried looking at it from the viewpoint of other Body-Builders having to Work out beside me. After much thought I concluded that it was a harmless question overall and that sharing what I believed shouldn’t affect my progression in any way.
The other question left me giggling. It had to do with any thoughts that I might have about overthrowing the government. I could not help but laugh as I imagined myself dressed up “Rambo-style” accompanied by a group of middle-aged weekend Body-Builders showing up for work at city hall. I guess there might be some who take Body-Building in that direction but I didn’t see myself doing so. I couldn’t foresee this question being problematic in any way.
The rest of the questions seemed routine for applications of this type. There were requests for general family information, background, dates and such. Nothing asked that seemed too prying.
Fully satisfied that I had examined it carefully, I finally filled out that application and submitted it to the intake person at the Gym. The deed was done. The die was cast. I was on my way toward membership.
Then, I waited... quite a rather lengthy time too. Finally, a Gym member contacted me. It seemed he wanted to “interview” me to see if I was a good fit for the Gym. I thought this very odd since my interest was in Body-Building and I truly thought that the Gym would be grateful for another interested member. Nevertheless, I consented to the “interview” and set up a time for some members to come over and “talk”.
I found out also that such interviews typically took place away from the Gym and usually at the prospect’s home. They even wanted my spouse to be present so that she would know more about my involvement at the Gym. I thought this unusual since it was me who would be Working out at the Gym and not her. When I asked about this, I was told that a good reason for this would be provided at the interview.
It was just about two months later when my interview day arrived. I was so excited that I couldn’t sit still. The carry over from my previous conversation two months earlier still echoed in my mind. My wife was less excited. She already knew the Body-Building I had done in the past would make me a natural for any Gym. Her manner that day, and for that whole two months leading up to it, was cool, subdued and collected.
My manner was another matter. I’d heard of these Gyms before. I knew that their criteria for membership was high. Although my interest and experience in Body-Building was above the norm, I couldn’t help but think that I might not measure up to their standards.
In short, my anxiety was so tight that it nearly caused my ears to ring!
With all this occurring for me, I still managed to last long enough to hear the knock at my door. I walked over to it, took a deep breath saying to myself, “Show time!” and opened the door.
Author’s Note: This story is fictitious. Any reality to resemblance might hint greatly that you have Mastered the lines of reading between the art.
Brother John S. Nagy
 pursuing betterment
 betterment pursuers