September 17, 2009
Where have all the warriors gone? Where are all the stoics, the hardy grafters, the industrious inventors, the pioneers and adventurers? Why are men’s shirts tight on the belly instead of on the chest and back, and why are women having to get post codes placed on each cheek of their very large arses? Whatever happened to physical prowess, the hardy mentality, and the imaginative acuity that enabled our great species to survive for eons against seemingly impossible odds?
I was watching an old film the other night, The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day Lewis, a moving and visceral account of the dying Mohican race. It was amazing how these stoics dealt with their harrowing circumstance in history. It was an incredibly inspiring film. It stirred in me a need to reconnect with my warrior ancestry. All the time I was watching the film I kept reflecting on life in the twentyfirst century and thinking, ‘where….have all the warriors gone?’ These sinewy men and svelte women lived a challenging and purposeful existence, and they were all the more vibrant and passionate for it.
People today, by comparison, have become slobbish and lazy -- moaners and whiners of the first order. They have forgotten how to break a sweat and they don’t know how to handle discomfort anymore. At the fist sign of distress, they run to the pub or the doctor or they smother their hurt under another blanket of addiction.
Daniel Day Lewis would be ashamed! Ours is largely a sedentary society but we still live in bodies that are built to move. It needs physically demanding work every day in order to stay healthy. The hunter-gatherer that once roamed the plains and jungles with arrow and spear is still inside us; it is a vital and untapped resource, part of our heritage that needs recognition and expression. Reclaiming this legacy is vital for the physical, mental, and spiritual well being of our species. And the pulsing vitality derived from expressing our inner warrior spawns a confidence and a congruence that will permeate through every aspect of our lives, whether in the workplace, at home or in a dark alley, facing down an angry mugger.
People have forgotten how to be courageous. They have forgotten why it is important to be courageous. Maybe now is the time to reconnect with the warrior that you once were and could be again.
Here are a few tips to help you towards self-sovereignty and hardiness:
1) Get your physical well-being back into balance. And start now. You should not be fat! You should not be unfit. You should not be out of shape.
2) Do not put off until tomorrow... when you and I both know that, for the procrastinator, tomorrow does not exist.
3) Don’t point the finger of blame unless you have a mirror handy. It is not a warrior trait to blame. The responsibility starts and ends with you. This is the exciting bit. You don’t have to wait for permission; you don’t need the nod from your wife or your mum or your mates down the pub; it is down to you, and making your own decisions is one step towards becoming a warrior.
4) Be industrious. Be busy investing your hours into the conglomerate that is You, Inc. You should not be lazy; your time is very valuable because your time is finite. It is a once only deal -- you will never get lost time back again, so make the very best you can of it.
5) Kill the self pity. You should not be self-pitying -- it does not serve you and it is not a warrior trait. You need to be stoic about life. If you get knocked down seven times, get back up again eight.
6) Groom! People say that you should not judge by appearance, but if someone does not even have the self-discipline to honour their body by keeping it clean and groomed, then it does not say an awful lot for their inner being.
7) Make an inventory. Abraham Lincoln made an inventory of all his faults: impatience, procrastination, lateness, etc. He ended up with about fifteen personal failings on his list. He then spent a week, in rota, perfecting each area until he had erased them all.
8) Self invest. Set aside an amount of time out of every day to invest in yourself. Read, write, study, train, meditate – whatever does it for you, but invest. Make the investment consistent. And don’t say you do not have the time. You have the same time as everyone else. And if you don’t invest in you, who will?
9) Build a library. I have yet to meet a very successful person who does not read heavily. Readers are leaders. So start your collection of books and audios now. It will be life changing, because it is through the library that we escape mediocrity.
10) Serve. Make a point of serving others, because what you give out will keep returning. There is much power here! This is a reciprocal universe -- what you give you will get back tenfold. Where possible, make your service anonymous. Ideally, only you and God should know where and how you serve. The real power of service is when it is secret service.
Be a warrior. Do not let life kick sand in your face. Stand up to it. Stoics see adventure and growth in every life situation, even and especially the tough life situations. It is in adversity that warriors are made. Be a hardy grafter, an industrious inventor, and a pioneer. Do not settle for second best or complain about the fact that you would do more ‘if things were not so difficult.’ Life is hard for everyone, no one can escape the human condition, but it does not have to be dull and mundane; it can be exciting-hard and colourful-hard. You just need to give yourself a change of perspective, stop seeing what you have not got, and start looking at what you have got.
Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian and Shaman, when teaching his student Carlos Castaneda, told him that the universe is made up of consciousness, and that if he changed his perception of the universe, whole new worlds would open up to him. So get busy, change your perception, see the growth in difficulty, the adventure in the warrior life, and whole new worlds will open up to you.