When we lose our tribes, our wiseman, our leaders, our fathers—even our own chances to be tested for courage and strength—there is only one option to carry on with meaning and purpose: we become the Chief of our own tribe. We must become the wisemen that can lead the youth in our future and test ourselves for virtue, courage, strength and honor. There should be no regret in our thoughts from an action that doesn’t suit us. If we argued it was from passion, if we missed an opportunity it is because a greater one presented itself. When our will is tested we have only one choice and that is to exercise our ability to freeze the situation and act it out as we see fit. Becoming the Chief of our own domain, our own mind, will bring its own rewards and wisdom that we can later rely on.
This idea of leadership has been the dream of man ever since we first walked the planet, and that dream is dying as man is removed from the open-lands and clear prairie skies, replaced by sky-scrapers, endless machines, broken printers, work-place dynamics, trivial quarrels—all things that demand nothing from us but normal, everyday compliance. We aren’t tested anymore and are values aren’t being put out on the line for everyone to behold. The day-to-day has gotten a tad boring as we perform routines that we wish someone else would do. For the futuristic-technological-revolutionary, you are in no better time and place to act out your vision; however this is really a small percent of the human population. And it’s not that technology isn’t a miracle in itself, but it brings about a type of societal dependance. Man relies less on his own capabilities and potential as technology advances to fulfill the roles man once got his hands dirty with.
“The center of every man’s existence is a dream. Death, disease insanity, are merely material accidents, like a toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove that they are the citadel.” – Gilbert Chesterton
Molding our destiny to include past virtues with modern comforts
Man as an island reigns power over one thing: himself. It is his own mind, character and attitude towards life that he has complete control over. What a man wishes he can fulfill—whether that be virtuous or corrupt is up to him alone. No outside influence can determine us. We can of course be influenced, but nothing acts on us without our approval. That is man’s birth-right and that is man’s greatest power. The dream of man is not a complex idea since we all essentially desire to be content, wise and put to good use.
We want to be asked to do things and relied upon, that is our nature as providers. When something else is able to do it for us, we can either adapt and create another potential for need or become idle and let our vices take over as we waste away. The daily routine of man who worked with his hands, and the Chief who led his tribe, a father who had to provide food for family—all of them lived their life based on life-or-death skills. There was no doubt if the hunt was on or if a horse needed to be broken in—every day presented itself with a challenge that man had to solve. Today’s decline in masculinity is now obvious: life or death challenges that goad us to our highest potential have been taken away.
There’s another way to living life that brings thrilling adventure and unknown potential. The daily grind can become a sought for event when a test of strength is upon us and our abilities become needed. Once we have responsibility—to ourselves and to others—a day will go by in a series of moments that will leave little to desire. The key is to creating our own walls so that we may find a solution, climb over it and conquer a challenge. When no challenge is presented we have to create one. When life has gotten too easy we have to make it hard.
“Let us calmly and in a manly fashion to to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary frettings and fumings. I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything he really deserves.”
Wake Up Early and With Determination
The single most powerful technique for taking back our lives is waking up before the rest of the world does. In those quiet hours of contemplation man can finally sit down and find himself, undisturbed by the earthquakes of others’ thoughts, problems, rules, egos and bullshit. The times in life that you truly own and have for yourself are the darkest hours of the morning. There you can be you, man, and think your own thoughts or choose to not think at all.
The start to every day is the second we open our eyes. Any time we wake up and roll over to get 15 or 30 more minutes, our day starts off with doubt and hesitation. Start the day by making your first choice one of will and without question. “I’m going to wake up at this time, whether the body likes it or not.” Talk to your weakness and tell it to wither and die, because eventually that is exactly what it does. Without giving weakness energy, just like haters, it has nothing to sustain itself and so it disappears just as quickly as it came.
This discipline of waking up in the dark morning hours, at least an hour before having to begin your routine of normal “getting ready”, is unmatched by any other discipline as it will never get entirely easy. Cold showers, gym training, eating right; all those disciplines become natural over time. Waking up early, in my 11 years of doing it on a daily basis, is something that the body fights with you constantly. Evening life fluctuates so much that the morning routine will feel easier on some days, hard on most—good.
Wake up, slug some water that sits right next to your alarm clock and get the hell up with passion and be ready to conquer anything.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom.” -Aristotle
Control the Mind
After you get into the swing of waking up early, the next step will be to enter the stage of Ritual. Ritual has been shown in studies to project success into the users life with either placebo or actual effect. Scientists are having trouble calculating the “Why” in different cultural rituals throughout the world, but the data shows that the people who use ritual on a regular basis succeed in their projections if the ritual becomes a part of the equation.
Ritual can be as simple as a specific kind of coffee drank at the same time each day, in the same place. For me that is a double-shot of espresso, black as cigar ash at 4am everyday. This period begins the collection of focus one needs to fulfill goals and prepare for what is about to happen. What is about to happen? Whatever the hell you set out to do.
Controlling the mind during this morning ritual will show results the first day it is done. The first time this ritual is missed the effects are equally as obvious. Messing around with the ritual and getting sloppy will show in your mood and in your mind throughout the day. You will be off, and for those without a ritual right now have probably been off for a long time. It’s time to grow up and separate yourself from young people who need mom to get them up and ready for school. As an adult, and as a man-in-training you need to understand responsibility when no one is looking, when no one needs you. In a sense, our highest self always needs our complete attention and respect.
Sip your coffee, still your mind and observe your breath. The room around you, the dark starry night, the kitchen counter—all of it needs your observation. Be still and enjoy being with yourself. Oddly enough this calm never really leaves you once the Ritual is established.
Create a Private Spiritual Connection
At some point in your day you need to contemplate on ideas that go deeper than the instinct or intellect. Beyond the basic needs of food, procreation, activity and rest, we need to expand our thinking to go where there is no need or want of anything. In the area of contentment is where man breeds the thoughts that can potentially change his life. Moments where we think nothing except our place in the universe can’t be forgotten, else life becomes a constant carrot-walk with one step in front of the other, never really going past the carrot.
What goes beyond your job? Even beyond family, friends, education, money, all of it. What is the force moving wars, traffic, commerce, what is the force behind your heart-beat and breath? These are thoughts that bring you from a myopic sight of reality out into areas of thinking that can naturally destress the entire musculoskeletal system and even lower blood pressure. Without detaching from the normal grind we will just get overly tense and end up in a poor mental state. The Chief, the leader of the pack needs to have the overview, and keeping the overview means big thinking. “Where am I going in life?” Instead of “Where am I going for lunch?” Both important questions, both need to happen at some point. Make the bigger questions happen daily.
Learn a Skill/Craft/Hobby
After work or school and when off in general from other duties, man needs to know how to use his hands. The main reason is for mental peace and clarity, but in close second is so he is not an incompetent jackass. Plumbing, light-electrical, masonry, wood-working, general building and construction—these skills are not that hard to grasp the basics from. Replacing a toilet is not rocket-science and you should know how to do it. One day you will need to take care of a house, that means knowing how to paint it, care for the siding, fixing the lawnmower, replacing the leaky p-trap underneath the sink: real basic stuff that any half-brained fellow should be able to master. No one is asking you to build a bay window, that is the skill part.
“Every man needs a skill he can be passionate about.”
We not only provide for others, but men also provide for themselves. If you were alone in the woods you would construct blades from wood and metal, so in today’s world you could essentially do ten times more badass skills that are game-changers for your life. Personally I focus on baking sourdough breads in a wood-fired oven. I had to learn how to make an efficient, long-burning fire to heat an oven to 900F and slow-heat the oven to saturate the stone floor. That is all after the learning of working with sourdough cultures and flour. When I’m not baking I focus on making my own beer. I guess you could say my passion is zymurgy.
Creating and crafting with your hands is an essential part of self-mastery. Without constructing the elements of this world we end up mentally and physically atrophied, becoming useless to any part of society. If learning with your hands doesn’t work, then learn skills in the mind. Become an excellent speaker, writer, historian or debater. Become a Ben Shapiro and study until you can’t see straight.
Skills and crafts are highly underrated, especially for the snowflake play-pretend generation of young men in the world today. Essentially we have now a whole culture that went backwards in style and made their pants too tight to sit down in. The craft of the children-in-disguise today is to reshape their hair every week and shorten words from “situation” to “sitch.” Good luck with that. For those that are ready to grow up, feel free to shave the beard, tuck in your shirt, tie your shoes and stand up straight. Men ought to reflect the soldier in dress, attitude and know-how.
Physical fitness is the last part of the daily challenge. There are many more walls to put up in our lives, but physical fitness goes back so far it has become an eternal strategy for elite living. Be ready for any challenge life offers—either physically or mentally—by daily pushing the body past its limits.
Weightlifting, cardio and bodyweight training are the most effective forms of physical workmanship and culture. They have the most carryover to any other sport or life-activity and can be cycled through when in periods of rest from one another. Daily training can also be described as a solitary time of personal perfection. In the gym or track we test ourselves, by ourselves, and are under no man’s guide but our gut instinct.
Knowing how far to push and hurt takes experience, but more importantly it takes knowing who we are as men and what we are all about.
There is a tendency of obsession that can come over the fitness enthusiast. I know because I was once addicted to fitness heavily. You know when you have gone beyond healthy when you feel like less of a person if you miss a day of training. Relax. Fitness does not take over normal life for the non pro-athlete. We have jobs, family and responsibilities that go far beyond exercise. What exercise does is amplify all other areas of life. It is the one activity that allows us to keep going with everything else we love. Basic fitness also improves mental clarity and overall happiness. I believe the real benefits of physical fitness go beyond the body and into mental and spiritual health.