“You cannot picture true strength, but you can live it.” -The Dad Lift
Recently I read a post on Instagram asking, “How can you take a picture of true strength?”, which led me to some thinking. Is it even possible?
We can definitely take a photo of a muscular physique, a mirror shot at a gym locker room can pull this off pretty well. We can also take a video of a 600 lb. deadlift. If we want to photograph strength in fatherhood, we can take a photo of him engaging with his kids; but is this true strength? Does it tell us the whole story? It’s all missing something, it only gives us a snap shot. Most pictures and videos circulating on social media are like empty calories, they give us a quick dopamine hit but lack true substance.
I believe true strength cannot be photographed. Although, our current desire for aesthetic perfection does seek pictured strength. Filters and photo editing can make even a subpar moment in time seem far more perfect. Many seek that perfection, maybe it motivates them or maybe they are just thirsty for images they can thumb through mindlessly. Our social media brains are still very attracted to these photos. They must be. Many Instagram accounts exist with a high following that only display mirror shots and flexed biceps. Others only display perfect family moments, with kids behaving properly; but is this reality? Is that what we call strength?
Life through a Filter
True strength cannot be pictured because true strength is something built over time. A father does not become a great man with one simple kind act, its millions of acts over time. A person does not become strong in an instant, its consistent action over a lifetime. A photo is a snap shot. It’s 1/1000 of a second burned into an image. It is a blink of an eye. I have found photos to be deceptive, in that they do not tell the whole story. They only portray what the photographer is capturing at that moment in time. Many times the photographer only wishes to display a perfect moment. But as we move in life, we find that things are not always perfect. They are often messy. There is no filter available which can edit out the true chaos life can hold. But that’s okay, living life through a filter is no way to live. You may say it’s not living at all.
Strength in Struggle
Strength is not gauged in the perfect moments. Even the most miserable of fathers can be quite the amazing dad in paradise. Strength is gauged in how we react in hard times. While a photograph is displayed on social media showing only the peaks of human performance and experience, true strength is found in the depths of the valleys of failure. It’s how we deal with an injury, lack of sleep, illness and family strife, which cannot easily be photographed. Strength is forged in struggle. It’s pushing on in extreme adversity.
Authors of Our Own Story
We are the authors of our own story. We can in many ways edit the life we hope to portray. Maybe we can deceive the audience into believing we are something we are not. Maybe they can “follow” us as we paint the story that sells; however, this is not a longterm solution. You cannot deceive yourself into believing that story, unless madness is the ultimate goal. We are the authors of our own story not because of the way we wish to be perceived, but by the way we act. We can choose the course of action which may lead us down the path of progress and growth.
True strength is doing what needs to be done when it’s the absolute hardest thing to do. It’s 5am wake-ups to make a training session. It’s failing time and time again to learn a perfect technique. It’s getting up to feed a crying infant so your wife can get the rest she so desperately needs. It’s reffing the sibling fights with meekness on your spouse’s workdays. It’s taking daily action to get stronger and better. True strength is being a great father, husband, wife, mother, athlete, and human when no one is looking. True strength is being strong in our life for the ones around us, not the ones who click “like” on a photo. You cannot picture true strength, but you can live it.