Elizabeth Meggs
22 min readFeb 4, 2022

BEYOND THE BEEFCAKE: An Artist In Brooklyn Reviews the Shirtless Oiled Olympic Flag-Bearer’s Motivational Book During a Pandemic

A white woman with brown hair, wearing a dark red sequined dress, stands in front of a bookshelf while holding a book near her face.
Elizabeth Meggs with “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Photo courtesy the author)

On Friday, July 23, 2021, after weeks of grueling work on an art project, I happily ambled into the first slow summer morning I’d had in a long time, drinking coffee and watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics on television from an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. It was too hot and humid, and I wore mismatched pajamas. I’d missed the first part of the ceremony. I texted my Olympics-loving friend Eleanor — yep, she was watching it, too. The ceremony was subdued, like almost everything this year, due to strict Covid restrictions. There were no big cheering crowds in the stands, and with rare exception (I’m looking at you Kyrgystan and Tajikistan!) each country’s teams of athletes, coaches, and staff walked into the Olympic stadium wearing masks, in compliance with the Covid protocols of the event. It felt sad to not be able to see smiles, but a vibe of ebullience and Olympic nervousness still prevailed in the eyes and movements of the athletes. The Italian team brought a welcome celebratory spirit. The British delegation inexplicably wore conservative khaki pants and navy blue jackets — this was not a celebratory look!

At the opening ceremony, anything is still possible for each Olympian. The two weeks following the opening ceremony might prove harrowing for some, with lifetime dreams and work crushed in a thankless momentary fall, injury, or positive Covid test; inglorious for others as they are caught doping or cheating; and exciting for most as they compete but don’t medal. A minority of the participating Olympic athletes will achieve the apex of recognition: an Olympic medal! Even fewer win the gold, affirming their status as the greatest athlete* in their field at that moment (*and perhaps more importantly, luckiest, because they didn’t suffer the random fate of falling, getting injured, or having a positive Covid test, for example).

Achievement culture can be harmful. Aspiration at all costs carries the possibility of being detrimental to not only an individual’s psyche, but also to his or her relationships, health, financial situation, and life. The dangling carrot of the elusive Olympic achievement drives people from all over the world to push the limits of their own lives, and the lives of their families, communities, and coaches. To what end? What’s the point? Just what, exactly, motivates the mostly young athletes toward momentary Olympic status? Surely, the motivations vary from athlete to athlete, with many being positive. Love of sport, the thrill of competition, joyful expression of natural athletic talents amplified by a lifetime of training, the pursuit of a dream, a celebration of the human spirit, and the power of determination all seem to me like wonderful motivations toward becoming an Olympian. Life isn’t fair, but sometimes the stars align for some. What fascinate me most about the Olympics are the stories of the journey of each athlete and his or her team.

As a visual artist, one thing I love about art and making art is that there is never really a right or wrong answer or solution. Art can be wildly experimental, steeped in the traditional, personally expressive or the antithesis: clinical, devoid of all subjectivity. Art can be anything, from the fleeting ephemeral impression to the most imposing physical permanence, and it doesn’t have to be physical or quantifiable. Art can be made of any material, or even of no material. Sure, an artist might make something that others deem a failure, but that doesn’t mean the artwork is a failure at all. History has shown us too many times that art considered a failure at first was successfully innovative and in fact, historically significant. Just consider Paul Cézanne, who was at first called a total failure, but is now renowned as the father of modernism and one of the most influential painters to ever live.

In competitive sports, there are hard rules and objective goals for an athlete to follow. In a way, this makes achieving a goal simple. An athlete and his coach know that if they train in order to achieve X (such as a specific fast race time), then they will reach a goal that equals winning races and medals. This cold clinical objectivity of sporting goals, however, is tempered by the humanity of the athletes, and their emotions, circumstances, and stories.

Still, as an artist, I feel some trepidation toward something as cut and dried, and coldly clinical, as the hard rules of sports, because of the humanity of the participants. Is a runner really less deserving of recognition because he had a sore foot on the exact day of his Olympic competition, reducing his speed in that one moment, even though his race times in practice were faster than everyone else’s? I don’t think so. I think that runner is a champion based on his entire body of sporting excellence. I take issue with the immense pressure moments of the Olympics, where there’s no room for the mutable disparities of human experience. Imagine falling at the Olympics during competition, when your whole life had been built toward that moment. As you might imagine, that fall would equal immense pain, sadness, and haunting regret. I see a bigger picture to someone’s life, in which a moment of high achievement coinciding with all of the right circumstances and timing has as much to do with luck or the stars aligning (whatever one wants to call it), as it does a lifetime of training. I’d like to see an Olympics competitive system set up that is more considerate of the human aspects of the competitors, in which one fall at the wrong moment won’t obliterate a lifetime of Olympic dreaming.

In spite of my concerns and skepticism, I feel an artist can relate to the journey of an Olympian, because both paths require tremendous discipline, self-determination, lifetimes of training, immense imagination and vision, and both face the possibility for criticism. A serious artist and an Olympic athlete both lead unconventional lives, aiming their imaginations toward something higher than the status quo or the mundane.

Vegging out on my sofa, dressed like a female Big Lebowski, I mulled over these thoughts as I watched the throngs of masked athletes enter the Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony. I contemplated breakfast, too.

ENTER TONGA. The pace of the opening ceremony stalled. The world stopped breathing. NBC’s broadcast journalist Savannah Guthrie paused, then said, “Let’s just take a moment.”

My jaw dropped. I suddenly jolted wide awake. What was happening?

The camera followed one athlete for what felt like hours (certainly for much longer than was spent on entire major country delegations at the ceremony).

That guy. I remembered him from past Olympics, but I hadn’t really paid close attention to him until that morning. In the past he’d been sort of an opening ceremony novelty, but for some reason (perhaps the isolation of the pandemic) this year I paid more attention.

The shirtless, heavily-oiled Olympic Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua was back, for his historic third consecutive visit to the Olympics. I was almost blinded by the bright reflections in the excessive oil covering the impressive muscles on his perfect 6' 4" frame. It was hard to think straight. I might have died right then, had he not been masked and his beautiful smile had been visible. The only word I could think of was, “MERCY!”

As the camera continued to follow Taufatofua, I looked into his eyes. Did the oil get in his eyes? It didn’t appear so. In spite of there being gallons of oil all over his body, I could still see a lot in those eyes: humor, wit, warmth, and high intelligence. “Who is this unctuous guy?” I wanted to know, “and what’s driving THIS spectacle?”

After three Olympics’ worth of shirtless oiled opening ceremony flag-bearing shenanigans, we can’t deny that Pita Taufatofua maximized the effect of his sartorial panache and minimalism, to garner global recognition for himself and the nation of Tonga. While a stellar athlete, Taufatofua has never been a medal contender. He might not even be the hunkiest or most charismatic athlete of the games. And yet, he either brilliantly or unwittingly figured out how to become an international sensation by doing something that at first glance is beyond reproach, as the traditional outfit of a Tongan man is the ta’ovala, a mat wrapped around the waist, and apparently nothing else but a giant vat of coconut oil. I’m reminded of some of history’s masters of the publicity stunt. Surrealist artist Salvador Dali loved a good publicity stunt, walking his pet anteater on the streets of Paris or onto the set of the Dick Cavett show.

As the whole world had to take a moment to cool down after his highness of hunkaliciousness slid his way through the ceremony, I started to think about objectification. I felt guilty because I had objectified Pita Taufatofua along with billions of other people, drooling over his sheer physical beauty. I’m not a fan of objectifying anyone (even if they willingly objectify themselves, as Mr. Taufatofua had), so I felt an obligation to make an effort to see Pita Taufatofua as more than the glorious physical specimen, and beyond the beefcake, that he clearly is recognized to be.

I was completely distracted from the Olympics opening ceremony at this point, no longer watching. The Tongan delegation was long gone, but I was Googling Pita to find out more. First, I found out that he’s 38 years old (and a Scorpio), which seems somewhat older than many Olympic athletes. He and I are peers. Second, I realized he has written a book. I immediately ordered a copy. If I was serious about discovering the depths of Pita Taufatofua’s soul instead of just ogling him, of course I had to read his book. I wanted to figure out what motivates Pita Taufatofua. Is he an exhibitionist? Does he have an insatiable need for attention? Does he harbor ambitions to be a stripper? What’s his motivation? Does he have a sensitive soul, or is he just raw beefcake? I’m willing to find out (call me, Pita!).

Hoping to remain objective in spite of the author’s glorious facade, and go beyond beefcake, I’ve reminded myself of the old trite saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and have written the following book review.

* * *

I typically run from didactic books like I’m being chased through the woods in the film “Deliverance.” Why should any random author think he knows what’s best for his unknown readers? It takes a lot of audacity to write a book that primarily tells others how to live. As a highly independent person, I balk at anyone telling me how I should live my life! And, I take motivational platitudes, especially those surrounding sports competitions, with a generous dose of deep New York City BS-detection. So, my highly skeptical radar went on alert as I began reading “The Motivation Station: An Essential Guide to Becoming Your Greatest Version” by Pita Taufatofua, “Two Time Olympian & Tongan Flag Bearer.” (A revised edition of this book must edit the cover to read “Three Time Olympian & Tongan Flag Bearer.”)

This oiled shirtless super-fit guy — Is he going to tell me to “Go for the gold!” in life, the universe, and everything else? Fortunately, Taufatofua backs up everything he writes about in the book with rock hard credibility along with his abs of steel. Being an Olympian in a historic three consecutive Olympics, his work in homeless shelters and with homeless youth for fifteen years, and his work as a UNICEF Ambassador for the Pacific all make me willing to consider the advice he’s taken the time to share with readers.

A white woman with brown hair, wearing a grey t-shirt and denim shorts, reads a book while sitting on the ground under a tree.
Elizabeth Meggs in nature reading the “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Image courtesy the author)

The book is written in the first person, with Taufatofua speaking directly to the reader as “you.” He recounts anecdotes from his own life in the past tense, but vacillates into the present with his instructions for being motivated. He even throws in phrases like “I am proud of you” for minor accomplishments like reading one chapter. I have to point out that he doesn’t know whom he is actually speaking to when he addresses the reader. SAY MY NAME, Pita! Your next book needs to refer to me. I feel the book would be more sincere and direct if it referred to me, the reader — as in, “I’m proud of you, Elizabeth, for completing Chapter 1,” or “Since you are my hot American lover, soul mate, wife, and mother of my three brilliant children, Elizabeth, I hope to motivate you by going over the following steps again and again, all night long.”

Taufatofua’s genuine sincerity expressed in the book is poignant. Taufatofua underwent a meticulous personal study of motivation and human development while recovering from many horrific years of struggle, frustration, injury, and pain, including severe Taekwondo injuries, then applied certain tactics that proved successful. So, by reading this book, one might potentially skip twenty years of heinous personal struggle in order to gain the knowledge imparted within.

It’s immediately clear to me that Taufatofua’s ontology is a synthesis of Spock (if Spock were a hunky athlete) and Captain James T. Kirk from the television show Star Trek: his objective, calculating logical Spock mind is tempered by his Kirkesque swagger and innuendo-filled humor (just see his Instagram account for Kirkesque examples). He’s the guy who will repair the spaceship and negotiate a complex intergalactic peace treaty, while seducing all the local swinging bikini-clad aliens.

Let’s talk about motivation for a moment, before diving into the meat of “The Motivation Station.” Motivation is neutral, not inherently good or bad, ethical or unethical. It can be applied in any direction. It’s sort of like a Rube Goldberg machine. Take, for example, a highly motivated serial killer. That sort of motivation is horrifying. Fortunately, in this book, Taufatofua presents his take on motivation with a deep dose of humanity. Taufatofua importantly acknowledges that happiness is critical along with motivation.

As I began reading the book, I wanted to know, “How can I become a hot, shirtless, oiled Olympic Tongan flag bearer?” It immediately became clear that the book would not tell me how to do THAT, but rather how to become MY greatest version of whatever I determined THAT to be.

A white woman with brown hair, wearing a grey t-shirt and denim shorts, reads a book while sitting on the ground under a tree.
Elizabeth Meggs in nature reading the “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Image courtesy the author)

As you begin your motivation journey with Pita Taufatofua, you’ll enjoy that his book is peppered with poignant and funny anecdotes about Polynesian life, and childhood in Tonga. As I read these anecdotes, I pictured Pita in traditional Tongan attire (oiled and shirtless). The personal anecdotes are compelling, such as when a group of drunk men jump Pita’s friend and one pulls out a gun! I encourage Pita to consider writing a memoir next, expanding on these stories.

My first criticism of the book is that it needs to contain more photographs. While it does contain some photos, they are black and white and few and far between. I advocate for more full double page spread photos, in full color, in a revised edition of this book.

The earnest sincerity of the author is moving. From the first chapter, it is clear Pita wants to help readers light a “fire of accomplishment and purpose.” His origin story is the stuff of underdog legends, because he grew up in a one bedroom house with seven children, and lost one sister to leukemia. I can relate to how harrowing and life-altering this must have been for young Pita, having lost my own father at a young age from leukemia. Most people would have given up on the wildest dreams Pita held inside, but his realization of how powerful the human spirit is capable of being ignited his own motivation fire, writing, quote, “That despite the most challenging circumstances, a person can achieve great things and overcome life’s toughest challenges.”

A cynical reader might scoff at such statements, but again, Pita’s accomplishments lend credibility to statements such as that throughout the book. The book includes many sports examples, but the broader points made are applicable to any pursuit, such as understanding the difference between instant gratification versus long term benefits when making decisions. Pita promises that the book is a seed, not the fruits, and the fruit will come in how well one implements the advice in the book.

The book is structured as a ramp that builds on early concepts, with repetitive writing on key points, similar to repetitively practicing a Taekwondo kick. Becoming motivated is not necessarily an easy task for readers — personal accountability, unlearning old habits, and releasing past trauma are just as critical as learning new things.

Understanding the mechanics of motivation is essential to being motivated. In Chapter Two, Pita reveals that there are eight key steps to being motivated. He also, in my favorite part of the book, compares motivation to a cat, who is impulsive, coming and going as it pleases. Any cat lover knows that a cat cannot be forced to stay, but can be trained to want to stay. Pita wants to help train your motivation cat! He explains that long term motivation isn’t just motivation but rather purpose and positive habits. I was so inspired by this that I recommended the book to my own cat, and he enjoyed reading it. My cat is definitely more motivated to nap now.

A white and grey cat with green eyes is pictured reading a book.
My cat reading “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Photo courtesy the author)

The anecdotes in Chapter Two are brutal and entertaining. Pita describes having to stand in a position that caused him to pass out every ten minutes because he was late to his Hapkido martial arts class. He stuck to it for two hours because “giving up wasn’t in his vocabulary.” It becomes clear that motivation requires this sort of tenacity and stubbornness. The kick that got Pita Taufatofua into the Olympics in 2016 was based on ingrained habits more than a conscious decision. Repetitive training digs a groove into one’s brain, so to speak, that can be tested under pressure. Consistency is key to building habits that can forge a path to achieving great things.

My second critique is my most major and serious critique of the book. Everything is based on Pita Taufatofua’s own experiences, with personal anecdotes, but the book is lacking all citations or cited research for his claims. This becomes a serious issue when he discusses things like nutrition or specific facts about physical health, such as specific hormones, chemicals, or nutrients. I do believe Mr. Taufatofua should have cited legitimate, well-researched sources for his fact-based claims. I didn’t spend a decade hammering the phrase “Cite your sources!” into students’ heads to let Mr. Olympics slide on this point. So, if Pita writes another book, or revises this one, I feel strongly that this is an issue that needs addressing.

In Chapter Three, the writing delves into some poetic analogies, that are deeply thought out. Readers are directed to clearly define their purposes in life, and be at peace with the hand of cards life has dealt, good or bad. We find out that Pita had severe health issues as a child, along with his experiencing the tragic death of his sister when he was young. It’s clear that Pita learned deep humility and humanity at a young age through very sad and hard situations, and that’s a big reason he did not become a superficial beefcake after emerging from his cocoon into the beautiful butterfly he is today. It’s also a reason he empathizes with the circumstances others might face toward becoming motivated themselves. The author emphasizes humor and not taking life too seriously, because he feels that laughing and joking about everything will change one’s life for the better. He advises to not dwell in sad times for too long, and as someone who has experienced a lot of sad times, I believe this is sound advice.

As an artist, I especially related to Chapter Three’s presentation of three big life questions:

Where did we come from?

Where are we going?

What is the meaning of life?

Contemplating these big questions helps us gain perspective by seeking a bigger picture to life, and problems that seem big become small. Coming to understand one’s purpose and meaning in life is critical to being motivated, according to the book. Readers are encouraged to think bigger than themselves. I appreciate that the author’s deep humanity expands far beyond his own (fine) self.

It was inevitable that these three questions made me consider the 1897–98 painting, which was made in Tahiti, titled in French D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous” which translates in English to: “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where are We Going?” by French artist Paul Gauguin.

Though Gauguin is highly problematic and offensive today, and was a deeply troubled person, he was motivated to create this large, ambitious painting as a broad philosophical statement, visually referencing the cycle of life while conveying a powerful expression of darkness, humanity, and mystery.

A large horizontal painting in dark blues and ochres, featuring a number of nude and partially clothed figures and animals who are engaged in several different activities, from resting to picking fruit from a tree.
“Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?’ by Paul Gauguin, oil on canvas, 1897, 54.7 inches x 12.2 feet (This work is in the public domain.)

“The Motivation Station” shares Gauguin’s ambition in tackling broad and difficult philosophical topics in one work of art or writing. By the end of Chapter Three, I was fully convinced that Pita Taufatofua fits no stereotype of a hunky beefcake, but is a deep thinker. He encourages deep thinking in his readers, launching them in a direction of meaning and purpose. Once readers have been thrust into this personal analysis of meaning and purpose, the book delves into much more specific content in subsequent chapters, tackling difficult topics such as procrastination, being stuck in one place, dealing with negative people, negative thinking, alcohol, drugs, pornography, nutrition, exercise, and much more. The author offers pragmatic and straightforward advice for tackling issues. I appreciate that the book presents clear methodology and specific behavioral practices for its readers. We are presented with a toolbox that’s very easy to adopt, and quite helpful, toward becoming more motivated. Practical advice that might seem obvious, such as getting enough sleep or being well-groomed, may be helpful for this books’ readers, especially younger ones who find themselves in unstable living situations. In fact, I believe this book is especially apt for younger readers, such as the adolescents and homeless youths with whom Pita Taufatofua has worked.

I especially enjoyed Chapter 8, which covers negative thoughts and depression. It presents a lovely toolbox of four strong ways to deal with depressive thoughts. The suggestion to picture every negative thought as being a raging wolf that you want to shut the door on is funny and helpful.

I have to admit that I did raise my eyebrows a bit when I read Chapter 11, which is titled “Lust, Sex, and Love” because the chapter presents a very logical look at love, that I did not find poetic. I felt I was seeing the Spock side of Pita Taufatofua rather than the Captain Kirk side, definitely. Readers are given a very scientific analysis of the chemistry of a love connection, including different hormones and their functions, along with a careful description of exactly what happens with the release of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. Again, a chapter with scientific information such as this NEEDS to have cited sources and research to back it up, rather than just the author’s say-so. (This chapter is where I began imagining what it might be like to be on a date with Spock.) The author describes the first stages of love as beginning with lust, related to mating potential. I found that to be an illogical description because there are so many examples of romantic love that are not in the context of mating potential, such as when very elderly people fall in love long after they’ve had children.

Chapter 11 continued on its highly logical path, exampling the release of oxytocin, which promotes love bonding, and vasopressin, which motivates toward commitment. (This made me to wonder if it would be appropriate to test the levels of vasopressin in guys on first dates. Would that be acceptable first date behavior, to pull out a syringe and take a blood sample, and send it to a lab, on a first date?) The author himself admits that he finds the mysterious spiritual aspects of love challenging to his engineering brain.

One point I’d like to make about love, that I believe the author realizes but is not expressing in this chapter, is that love is a verb. By that I mean that love is not just about romantic feelings one has himself or a chemical response, but that love is an action each of us is capable of doing. Love can be small acts of kindness, sweeping romantic gestures, a decision to support and be committed to someone even if they are flawed and deeply human, or choosing to give someone attention, sensitivity, and energy. It’s clear that the author understands that love is a verb, through the many humanitarian and benevolent activities with which he is involved. I’m willing to further discuss this chapter with the author, should the opportunity arise.

Chapter 12 is an extensive discussion about nutrition, and one of the most carefully considered chapters in the book. The author emphasizes that lacking proper nutrition will be detrimental to health and will subsequently stunt motivation. Again, I will say that this chapter needs citations to back up claims. While I don’t doubt the claims made in the chapter, it will be stronger and significantly more credible with cited research. Cited sources will make those who question the information in the book more confident in what they are reading. I appreciate the excellent quote on page 157, that says, “Be critical of all information, so critical that you even question the information that I present to you in this book.”

The author mentions having body goals, also on page 157. I had a friend in high school who hoped to grow a beer gut. Seriously. That was my friend’s goal. He was motivated and he has achieved this body goal. Doubtless, the author does not intend such a goal, but hopes for healthy body goals such as maintaining one’s optimum weight or having proper nutrition and calories to support activities like doing 10,000 Taekwondo kicks.

Now, I grew up in the South in the United States, and when the author asks, “Do you understand your relationship with food?” on page 160, all I could think was “LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE STROKE BELT, HONEY.” (Everything in the South is soaked in lard and butter and fried with bacon and then deep fried in some more bacon with more lard and butter.)

Now, not all of us are highly disciplined, 6' 4" Olympians, but all of us can appreciate the advice toward considering proper nutrition. Maybe hold off on eating the entire bucket of fried chicken and eat an organic spinach salad once in a while.

The author’s Spockian side comes through a bit when he discusses hunger hormones. I’d like for this chapter to more fully address emotions and culture around food (think Anthony Bourdain). It’s not always easy to be perfectly disciplined about nutrition. I’d like the author to just try having raging PMS and eating a big plate of broccoli. As an artist, I found this quote in the book controversial, “Be strict with yourself and understand that food is to help us survive and maximize life. . . . Make food about nutrition and not comfort and your health and motivation will change for the better.”

My life is so much better when I enjoy food. My mental health, too. I think there’s a balance between logic and enjoyment! For some reason, the chapter on nutrition made me feel slightly rebellious, craving homemade white chocolate French toast with butter and maple syrup, with a side of fried chicken.

A smiling white woman with brown hair, wearing a grey t-shirt and denim shorts, reads a book while lounging in a hammock outside.
Elizabeth Meggs in a hammock in Brooklyn, reading the “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Image courtesy the author)

The chapter on exercise, Chapter 13, is wonderful. The author’s enthusiasm and love for exercise is contagious! His writing on exercise is inclusive — he knows that not everyone aspires to become an Olympian, but helpfully points out that consistency is the most crucial aspect to an exercise program.

Chapter 14 begins to tie up many of the specific points in the book under its 8-Step Motivation Guide, that can be applied to anything, from wanting to become an Olympian to hoping to win a hot dog eating contest. I love that the author suggests writing down your goals, and shows us a photo he took of his own written down goal of making it to the Olympics. I’m definitely going to try this. The book advises revising goals on a daily or weekly basis, revisiting them often so they remain at the front of our thoughts and do not disappear. It’s wonderful to be encouraged to not fear seemingly impossible goals, with the quote, “Seemingly impossible dreams are more likely to happen when we first believe that they can. And they are so much more motivating than realistic half-dreams.”

Chapter 18 is titled “Always Finish — Always Finish Strong.” This title alone is perhaps the most significant simple point in the book. Life throws everyone staggering challenges, obstacles, and fears at times. Simply keeping at the hard work, and being determined to complete goals, makes all the difference toward not being destroyed by the major challenges. It’s incredibly moving to find out about people who overcome overwhelming odds and achieve whatever goal they might have, and this book shines light on how it is possible to do so, thrive, and be happy.

Fortunately, the author points out that life is not only about achieving goals, but the experiences, people, and love that you find along life’s journey. Overall, this book is a comprehensive personal take on motivation. It’s absolutely worth reading because the author has lived the principles included in the book and been vastly successful toward achieving his Olympic dreams by doing so. I enjoyed reading it. I wish Pita Taufatofua’s playful sense of humor (demonstrated in interviews and on social media) were more a part of this book. He’s obviously not a stuffed shirt (based on his regular shirtlessness). I especially love that the book acknowledges the dark, tragic, and horrific circumstances one might experience through life, and offers many ways to not only keep going, but also triumph and be happy.

Did this book make me more motivated? It absolutely did! I’d give it five out of five Olympic rings for its ability to motivate readers! Even though it’s been such a dark pandemic time here in New York City, reading this book helped me stay focused on goals and positive thinking, work at becoming better at roller skating, remain disciplined at my artistic, creative, and charitable endeavors, stay healthy, lose weight, and overall be happier. What more could one want from a motivational book? If this book had more full color double page spreads of photos, and cited sources for stated facts, I’d say that it would be perfect. Oh, and another thing, when I am with the book, I feel like I am with Pita Taufatofua, inside his mind and caressing his soul rather than just ogling his body. This is a nice place to be.

The world is Pita Taufatofua’s oyster, and he wants everyone else to share the shirtless oiled ride on a big happy successful life-oyster with him. Even though I am extremely allergic to oysters, I am looking forward to observing what Pita Taufatofua does next. And, I can’t help but wonder, how long will he continue this oiled, shirtless stunt? Will we see him doing this in his 70s, 80s, 90s, or 100s? Will he write another book? On both points, I certainly hope so. Bravo to his positive, contagious, fun Olympic spirit! My one final question is: Will you marry me, Pita Taufatofua?

A white woman with brown hair, wearing a white shirt with blue horizontal stripes, reclines on a colorful heart pillow, holding a book.
Elizabeth Meggs relaxing on a heart-patterned pillow, reading the “The Motivation Station” by Pita Taufatofua (Image courtesy the author)



Elizabeth Meggs

Elizabeth Meggs is a Brooklyn-based artist, designer, and writer. BFA: Virginia Commonwealth University; MFA: Pratt Institute