You’ll Never Walk Alone

24/02/2006 § Leave a comment

“The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness. The remarkable thing is that the cessation of the inner dialogue marks also the end of our concern with the world around us. It is as if we noted the world and think about it only when we have to report it to ourselves.” – Eric Hoffer

There is something altogether abhorrent about people who do not push themselves to get results. If there is one human virtue that any of us should master, it is the need to look after and fend for number one as our overriding and primary concern.

1900 hours this evening and I find myself, for the second time this week, in a large sweat factory of a room rammed with bodies pumping and heaving all around me. There’s something terribly amusing about gymnasiums, in fact there’s something terribly amusing about physical activity in humans overall. It’s strange to see groups of people stuck together doing all manner of ridiculous movements over prolonged periods of time in aid of, let’s me honest about it, sex. That’s what it’s all about, after all. This is one of the reasons why gyms are like libraries, there is an immense sexual tension in the air. Everyone is pretending not to eye up the person next to them and how could you not when all around you are bodies, some of which are toned to near physical perfection, writhing on metal and rubber machinery. Surely this is some kind of metal fetishist’s dream, and we should feel privileged that we only have to pay £50 a month for the pleasure of indulging ourselves in it.

However, every gym has its token fat person and the size of said glutton differs from establishment to establishment and from city to city. I imagine that in LA the slightest amount of puppy fat would be thought of as some kind of physical travesty whereas over here my corneas have to stretch to the very limits of their physical abilities in order to take in the berth of the gargantuan woman who has just blobbed in to shed a few pounds on the treadmill before her, which is almost quaking in trepidation that this whale with legs is going to be bouncing up and down on it for the next thirty minutes. I find myself adopting the same mental stance as the frequent air traveller who fears, aware of the empty space next to him, of some oversized oaf sitting down there, dribbling and bubbling into his earhole for six hours’ cruising time, only to be met by something altogether more terrible, the greatest and ugliest abomination ever to be emitted from a womb, plopping itself down with all the grace and poise of a corpulent hippo.

But it can’t be all that easy being the largest person in a gym full of ant-height women creatures, their Kappa size 8s stretched over their bodies like sausage-skins. In fact, it takes more mental stamina to walk into such a room than that of a lot of other people here. This is, indeed, making a personal effort, and pushing oneself to the point of discomfort is a very important philosophy to live by because nothing good came through living an easy lifestyle. But what music is our ears harangued with hour upon hour in this church to arrogance and athleticism? On the walls are attached six TV screens, displaying run after run of Sugababes, The Ordinary Boys, Pink and Friday Hill on MTV Hits. This is the kind of music that your average, unthinking exerciser has impressed on them and this is the kind of music that your average, unthinking media-gobbler gets fed every day if they choose to pay attention to what is being forced, à la pâté de fois grois, down our modern-day gullets.

The easiest thing to do is hoover this up like it’s the only useful or enjoyable thing on offer, but the hardest thing to do is to go your own way and discover what music suits you personally. As teenagers, there’s a lot of emphasis on listening to the same music that your friends do, and a lot of people tend to like things on appearance, style and the notoriety that it will give them. I remember walking around Camden as a 16 year old, sporting a Sepultura t-shirt, thinking that I looked the tits when I did, in fact, just look like a tit, and I was only one tit among a sea of pretentious mini-breasts hording the Camden streets any non school-day of the week available.

When one gets older it’s more important not to be influenced by the pressure from others. However, following a personal musical path can be quite an isolating experience since metal and Gothic music are still thought of as more than a little strange by all and sundry in the mainstream musical scene. Moreover, all the serious fanatics that I have met in the Gothic Metal industry have not come as part of a Gothic or metal peer group but have found their way personally from another source. This is, in itself, a real expression or true interest and individuality, when what matters the most to us is not some principle fashioned from what we think we should be interested in, but the result of a personal journey tailored from our own pursuits. To break away from the opinions and judgments of others is no mean feat – it requires a determination and, most importantly, an ability to listen to oneself and follow what is really important. It has been said that music is a religion to some, and annoying and clichéd as that can be, it does make sense to look at it in this way when it’s followed with vehement devotion.

Making an effort is not only about going out of the way to do something different, but it can be sometimes the necessity to follow a different lifestyle to everyone you know. It doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, whether this expresses itself as an eyesore attacking a gym machine or just someone choosing to disassociate themselves from the rest of the crud that is blasted through our television sets and radios at all hours God sends. The most important way to identify oneself is through individual expression, and though it may initially seem lonely to follow a niche interest away from the multitudes, the results at the other end are far from friendless and certainly rewarding.

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