Wrestling for Gable

In 1987 the hardest thing a college freshman could have done was wrestle for the University of Iowa under Dan Gable.

When is the last time you were in a room with a group of guys who wanted to hurt you? When is the last time those guys were your teammates?

Wrestling isn’t fun. Wrestlers are mean. No one smiles at a wrestling practice.

Even when your body is young, you never fully recovery between practices. The grind never ends.

So why did some 24-year old dork in film school at NYU decided to pack his bags and head to Iowa? What was thinking? What was wrong with him?

What did he accomplish after 4 years of Iowa? What did he learn – not just about wrestling, but about life?

You don’t have to understand much about wrestling to enjoy this inspirational blog, Wrestling for Gable.

Some highlights:

There was a passage in the book I’m reading, called “The Discoverers,” about the 16th century Chinese and how they were isolated from the rest of the world. They drew all their maps of the world with themselves as the center, and all the far-off places that they’d heard of they merely put on the map as tiny little islands.

If you only measure yourself against things you already know, your map of the world is always going to be too small.

And that’s why I’m here.

Jenny wants a normal life. I want an extraordinary life. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know what I want.

I know what I don’t want:

I don’t want to live in suburban Cleveland and have a mustache and sell stereos at Best Buy. I don’t want my house cluttered with garage sale bric-a-brac, with ceramic figurines and antique dolls and those stupid arts-and-crafts cloth rabbits with the ears that don’t stand up.

I don’t want refrigerator magnets shaped like fruit, and I don’t want a kitchen memo board that says “Bless This Mess,” or a hot plate that says “May the Road Rise to Meet You” (whatever the f— that means). I don’t ever want to get so comfortable or complacent that I have to sigh and say, “This is it–the best I can do now is keep the lawn mowed.”


Gable is cool. He gave a great motivational speech at last night’s practice. He’s not just a wrestling fanatic. He’s a life fanatic. He believes in reaching one’s maximum potential. He believes in toughness–in being strong. Sometime in our lives we will all have to face adversity–trauma, death, whatever it is. Maybe it’s the death of our parents, a brother or sister, the breakup of a marriage, the loss of a job, whatever. It’s coming. It’s going to happen. How are we going to handle ourselves then, as human beings? We’ve got to confront our fears, and we’ve got to come to terms with these realities. And we’ve got to be able to deal with them so that we can get on with living.



Follow me on Twitter for fun and excitement – @playdangerously.

  • http://rivsdiary.wordpress.com/ rivsdiary

    looks awesome

  • http://rivsdiary.wordpress.com/ rivsdiary

    “Jenny wants a normal life. I want an extraordinary life. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know what I want. I know what I don’t want: I don’t want to live in suburban Cleveland and have a mustache and sell stereos at Best Buy.”

    this part is perfect.

    d&p, have you read paul graham’s article “cities and ambition”, that quote above cleveland reminds me of that. i think to live an extraordinary life, it is important to put yourself in the right environment. i would recommend it to all young guys in their 20s, and 30s and 40s too. living in a big, exciting, demanding city helps make us more exciting, and makes us demand more of ourselves. that’s PGs theory and i agree.

    here is the essay. looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

    • Aurelius

      Another gem of many you’ve been serving up lately. Another one that speaks to me along the lines of what rivsdiary points out, is this:

      “At the house across the street the husband came out and got into a ’79 baby blue Toyota station wagon and went to the store. The other car in the driveway was a late-’70s sedan, which his wife had to move for him so he could get out of the driveway. Then the wife–50-ish, with fat arms–proceeded to mow the lawn. She was wearing a polyester jogging suit.

      This whole thing has nothing to do with anything. I was just thinking as I watched the scene unfold, how much I would hate being that guy. I know that sounds shallow, but God…I was thinking, I wouldn’t come back. I would drive away in my Toyota station wagon, and I just wouldn’t come back.”

      Home for the holidays, I talk with my many unemployed and alcoholic relatives, who when I tell them I’m working 60-70 hours a week react “Oh, that’s terrible!” I would take what I have in a second over what they’re leading.

      Same with your approach to friendship. Spent last night with my college-dropout brother whose friends’ discussions center around video games and online discussion boards.

      Thanks for being way more intelligent and profound than the racist nostalgia a lot of this region of the web has pushing out lately.

  • http://www.everydayimlmfao.com Merc

    Awesome read