We Are What We Repeatedly Do

We Are What We Repeatedly Do

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world
they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an
opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

Muhammad Ali

Olympic games are at the gate, and once again, as almost every four years since long time ago – the games are currently held biennially, with alternating summer and winter editions – thousands of athletes representing their nations compete in sports to prove their mental and physical superiority to other people and above all to themselves.

It’s interesting to stop and think about the fact that, in everyday life as in sports, we all have always been aiming at strengthening our personal knowledge and skills as well as our neurosis, thanks to training through the repetition of the same gestures. Most of the time we link iterative actions to stagnation and boredom, while our lives are beating by rituals where the repetition represents, for once, a positive meaning and a crucial role in the challenge of autotransformation.

You must change your life! says the title of a book by one of the most important philosopher at work today, Peter Sloterdijk, and it sounds like a call for playing fair, which actually means trying to cross our intimate guilt of being insufficient to aim to a vertical tension. All shortcuts are illusions; human beings’ urge of standing out passes through daily exercise, which is nothing but the sum of actions made to improve the same following actions. The yearning to go beyond is typical of art and sport, as the will of getting to a superterrestrial reality is typical of religious ambitions. Reaching perfection is not enough, and making possible what is supposed to be impossible is the modern mantra.

More than anything else, sport involves the one-to-one relationship with divinity – how many times have you seen the name of a famous sportsperson compared to gods? –, but the message that tries to convince you that everybody can do everything through the strength of will has never been so abused; will is the mean by which we measure our possibilities; what moves a pizza maker and a yogi, a priest and a model, a biologist and an economist is the continuous physical exercise meant to improve our own performances. Being virtuous or even ascetic is definitely not for all, but it is a common belief that training for competition and the pursuit of success should ennoble people. As Aristotle said: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

The other side of the coin? The art of Living by Chad Harbach and the compulsiveness of performances that stresses the physical dimension of the contemporary youth, which forces its body with an unnatural and obsessive exercise to defeat or, at least, survive!

Monica Lombardi