The Hardcore Heart

There comes a time, in every man's life, when he's gotta handle shit up on his own. Can't depend on friends to help you in a squeeze. Please—they got problems of their own. These words are just as true now as they were minutes ago, when I stole them from a Pharcyde song.

In this, the final regular installment of I of the Tiger, I would like to leave you with a "weight" made of something stronger than iron—wisdom. Heavy, heavy wisdom. The last thing that we will "work out" together is not just any old muscle. It's the largest muscle in your whole body: your heart. (Actually your largest muscle is in your buttocks, but that's not poetic.)

What do we talk about when we talk about Hardcoreness? Must we speak of the basest elements of life? The pleasures of the brute? Must Hardcoreness signify violence, and anger, and who can break the greatest number of 2x4s with his or her forehead? I submit to you that the answer is "no." I submit to you that Hardcoreness is not simply How Much You Can Bench Bro, or I'll Fuck You Up Son. Hardcoreness is more ethereal quality—a quality that resides in of all of us. Young and old, rich and poor, advanced squatters and novice squatters alike. It needs only to be uncovered, and nurtured, and grown into something grand, like if you cut out your appendix and used it as fertilizer to grow a beautiful but menacing flower. And who among us would not want to make that journey?

When we are young, and strong, and energetic, it is easy to assign to ourselves the mantle of Hardcoreness. We may mistakenly believe that the fact that our bodies are at their natural physical peak means that we are, automatically, hardcore. Yet as inevitably as the leaves fall in Autumn, this stage of life passes. We grow older. We accumulate nagging injuries. We slow down. Our joints ache. Our backs ache. We have kids. We have obligations. We have less time. And slowly—ever so slowly—the entire notion of being Hardcore begins to fade from our consciousness. To lose its luster. Until one day, we wake up and find that the idea of Hardcoreness seems to us to be downright silly.

Do you find yourself nodding in agreement? I'll tell you what to do: 50 burpees for time. NOW WHO'S SILLY? Your own wheezing and momentary loss of consciousness, maybe. But Hardcoreness? Never. The issue at hand is a misapprehension of what it means to be Hardcore. Like Love, or Truth, or Sexiness, Hardcoreness is not a quality that can be defined merely by looking at yourself in the mirror naked after your latest Spin class and saying "damn I look good." Because guess what? You're drunk, and on steroids. Many people believe that if they lose (or never possess) the outward signifiers of Hardcoreness, according to Men's Health magazine or some shit, then they do not possess Hardcoreness itself. Wrong.

Dave Zinczenko's abs are not Hardcore.

If you take anything away from I of the Tiger, let it be this: Hardcoreness is a state of mind. It is the belief that you can do those things which the whispering devils of doubt say that you cannot do. And the capability for Hardcoreness is within all of us. You need only unlock it. By believing in yourself. By having the courage to fail before you succeed. And by trying.

It also helps to hang out with weak people, so you seem better in comparison.

Focus. Purity. Drive. Bravery. Confidence. Achievement. Simplicity. Humility. And Squats. All are there, just waiting to be accomplished by you. And all shall manifest. As long as you keep your mind hardcore. And your heart—with the Tiger.

[This will be my final regular weekly installment of I of the Tiger, although I will bring it back on occasion, when circumstances call for it. Better to end it now than to start repeating myself (more). This stuff, after all, ain't rocket science.]

Image by Jim Cooke, source photos via Shutterstock