No Pain No Gain? Bullshit

Daily Prompt Pains and Gains Do you agree with Jane Fonda’s favorite exercise motto, “no pain, no gain?” Is it impossible to attain greatness without considerable hardship?

“It’s impossible to build muscle without exercise. That’s a law of physics or bio-dynamics or something — aside from being patently obvious. Pain is often a symptom of injury and there’s no direct correlation between suffering and greatness. That’s just dumb, melodramatic, self-important, mumbo-jumbo.”

“Yeah, but, Lamont, a lot of great people suffered to achieve their greatness.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Dude. The suffering didn’t LEAD to greatness. There’s no causal relationship. It’s a non-sequitur. Take Jane Fonda, for instance. I could train according to her method for my entire LIFE and I’m NEVER EVER EVER going to look like that, have a body like hers — then or now. My suffering, in this case, would be both physical and psychological. But it is useful as a motivational slogan, apparently.”

“You’ve really thought about it, haven’t you?”

“No, just now. There are a lot of little things like this. ‘You have to pay your dues if you’re gonna’ play the blues,’ is one. Lots of people play the blues well and never ‘paid any dues’ and WORSE lots of people believed they needed to get out there into a life resembling a Jim Jarmusch movie before they could play the blues — how cool is that, right? Swill vodka and live on the street and beat your kids and cheat on your wife and crash your car and lose your job for NO REASON other than you think you have to pay your dues — and that’s what dues are? Maybe YOUR dues are completely different!  In this life everyone pays dues sooner or later of some kind, but they are dues unique to each person.”

“Some people do well without suffering at all.”

“Yep. That’s what I mean. There’s no correlation. I busted my ass as a teacher for decades and never got tenure, though I made several attempts. It just wasn’t to be.”

“You believe in fate?”

“No, that’s another one of those things — fate is a Janus head.  It’s a way of looking backward at how things turned out, and, at the same time, it’s a warning (probably a good one) that in spite of our best efforts we might not get what we think we want and have to live with reality rather than being crushed by disappointment.”

“You really think slogans like that have so much power?”

“Ask anyone who lived through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution about the power of slogans.


“Wow. All I can say at this point is hope and change.

“GREAT example! What’s the opposite? Despair and stagnation! Who’s going to vote for that? No pain no gain, Dude. :)”

“Ha ha.”

“Hope isn’t enough to make change and no change is completely predictable, no matter how much it hurts. The only real achievement is joy in the moment. Van Gogh might have been a different man if he had understood that the pleasure of painting is in the work itself — but, a guy has to earn a living. That’s a problem…”

“Yeah but to be a great artist, you gotta’ stay hungry.”

“Too much Bruce Springsteen, Dude.”

12 thoughts on “No Pain No Gain? Bullshit

  1. I remember teachers complaining about getting tenure years ago. It must be partly political. I was a contract worker for many years and also tried to get on but it never happened either.

  2. What a fascinating and thought provoking blog! You write so well and I find myself thinking about your blog even after reading it.

  3. Do you think we would elect a president who ran on “Despair and stagnation”? I totally love the idea. I can see the bumper stickers now, kind of like the de-motivational posters they sell on

    • I think “Family values and Founding Fathers” is a euphemism for despair and stagnation.

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