Mid-March in Egypt were the months of subtropical heat waves, shockingly humid afternoons and soulful melodies of the fly. Heat licked at our sunburned faces and coiled around our limbs like a great hot-blooded serpent. The ground smoldered and sent up a disorientating haze. Even the birds were silent, and the grass stood still as if too hot to move.
My close friend, Dhananjay and I were sitting in front of the Saladin Citadel of Cairo, waiting for our cab. As usual, we were discussing philosophy, uncertainty and why we were single.
Suddenly, a group of jovial Egyptian teenagers approached us.
Teenagers: Hello, are you from India?
We gave each other a puzzled look and replied “Yes” in the same symphony.
They replied, “We love Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.”
On hearing the names of the famous Bollywood actors, we smiled softly.
They asked to take a selfie with us.
After they left, Dhananjay told that one of the kid was poking his biceps to check whether it’s real.
Suddenly, I am laughing so hard; I can’t stop. I don’t know why, but the waves of laughter keep coming. Even Dhananjay started laughing.
I kept on teasing, and asked– “what’s your secret for an amazing physique?”
His expression hardened and replied “NO PAIN, NO GAIN. I never skip the gym, work out daily and maintain a strict diet. It takes a lot of effort to build a healthy body.”
A few months later, staring out of the New York subway’s window, I couldn’t agree with him more.
“No Pain, No Gain” principle is applicable to every walk of our life.
Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence — but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, and obnoxious corporate hierarchies. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
For most of my adolescence, I fantasized about building a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I refused to struggle in the gym. I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
This is the most simple and basic component of life: no pain, no gain.
P.S. 1 – Egyptians are known for their generous hospitality and warm heart.
P.S. 2 – Mental note to self: Daily early morning run from tomorrow. No excuses, Okay?
P.S. 2 – Referred to Mark Mason blog. You should read his book – ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.’ It’s really good.