Before I begin, I would like to inform the readers that I am in no way condoning Arnold Schwarzenegger’s behavior and/or character and controversies connected to him in the past or present.
When I was younger, I remember getting excited every time a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger came out. I used to love watching movies like Commando, Kindergarten Cop, Predator, Terminator and many others. I remember all the hype that was created every time a Terminator movie came out. I always remembered being curious about him, not sure if it was because of the accent, or was it the action packed movies he did back then. Time lapse a few years later, and I find out that he had written a book. Now you can only imagine what I did next.
I jumped at the opportunity to read Total Recall, an autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had heard a lot of good things about this book, and decided I had to get it and start reading. I have always been fascinated by Arnold as a bodybuilder but also as a person, and what he was about. I thought this would be the perfect way to indulge my curiosity and learn more about this athlete, turned actor, turned politician, turned entrepreneur. Talk about someone who has done it all, and not only just anyone, someone from a totally different country, Austria, which most can tell just by his accent.
Considering all that he has managed to do and achieve, he is one of those people you can’t help but be a little curious about. His story is not your average rags to riches story. it’s more of a ‘if I want it I will get it no matter what‘ type of story. A story that a lot of immigrants I am sure can relate to, to some degree, maybe not in the sense of all his achievements, but more in the way of plain hardship of coming to a foreign country, making an honest living, and learning to speak the language and succeeding. I am often reminded of the saying that goes, “living the American dream.” Stories like these keep you humble and make you realize the true potential of a human being, if they allow themselves to realize it.
The book goes on to describe his life growing up in Austria with his family. He talks about his father and how he was in the army during the time of Hitler, and when the Germans did away with the Third Reich, they were not allowed to discuss it nor keep anything that reminded them of that time. He talks about his father’s hardships and the reason why he may have been a bit angry and harsh with his family. You can tell that he definitely looked up to his father as many young boys do, and describes him as being an athlete in his youth and therefore expected the best from both of his children. You can see where he gets a lot of his determination and character development from when you read about this youth, his father being a strong influence at the time.
As you continue reading this book it goes into how even though he had enlisted in the army he wanted to leave, because he was determined to become a bodybuilder and move to Germany to make his dream come true. Fast forward a few years and Arnold has won Mr. Universe twice, and has been invited to America to train there. While in the United States, he makes it a point to mingle with the local folk, keeping an open mind, and making the most out of the opportunities provided to him through his sheer effort and hard work. He is also close to Joe Gold, and relishes the opportunity to experience all the wonders and nuances of America for the first time, and loving it.
This book just keeps getting better and better. The book goes on to talk about how he learns English at the local community college in California and his, interesting experiences to say the least, dating ONLY american women. He makes it very clear in the book that he is not interested in dating European girls, and only american girls, and why not, as the saying goes “When in Rome…” He also points out his shock at the fact that american girls shave their legs and arm pits and so on, as he is used to girls leaving it all natural in Europe. Lots of little nuggets here and there in the book that are kind of funny and interesting to read as seen it through his eyes.
The book continues to build upon Arnold’s life, his thoughts and fears as a young boy, as he transitions into a teenager and bodybuilder. I have to wonder though, had it not been for those strong influences by a select few people when he was younger, would he have turned out to be who he is today. It is often suggested that as a youth we are very observant. We see what adults do, and emulate what they do. Same goes for behavior and attitude. It helps shape our personalities and character as we grow older. The process starts at a very young age, and a lot can be predicted about how our lives will turn out as adults. I do believe that we start with whatever has been provided to us as children, and build on that as we get older. You see that a lot in Arnold.
There are other aspects of the book I have not mentioned here, such as his political career and eventual transition into entrepreneurship, which was something he got into right from the point when he moved to America as a young man, as well as important relationships. By doing so, I would be giving away the entire book and that is not my intention.
I do admire his focus and determination to be the best body builder, actor, politician etc, and his drive to do anything to make his dreams come true, which is really what has made this book quite the page turner for me. He has tremendous will power and determination and that is what had made him who he is today. He is definitely unique and not everyone can accomplish what he has in a lifetime. But it’s good to read about the prowess of people who come from a certain struggle in life and turn disadvantages into advantages and success. It shows how strong a human being can be if they really focus their minds towards something positive.
These are the kinds of lessons I am learning by reading these types of books. It’s not so much about the life of these people, but more about what I can take as life lessons from their struggles when I compare them to my own to give me just a little push in the right direction. It shows me that anything is possible and you don’t have to come from greatness to be great, or from royalty to make great accomplishments. These are ordinary people in less than ordinary circumstances that have come up through pure determination, focus, and will power and made themselves who they are today. That is definitely something to admire.