Life on "Mythic"

A reader, who shall for the moment remain anonymous, emailed me recently to note how he had recently taken a bit of a nasty spill and injured his back. He was in quite a bit of pain when it happened, but he knew that if he didn't make light of it, he would never really recover from it. So he laughed it off, got back to what he was doing, and proceeded to put on a great performance.

He then noted that, after about a week, the injury was almost completely healed. And he pointed out that if something similar had happened to him just a few years ago, he would not only still be in pain, he would be weeks away from making a full recovery. Be it noted, the reader in question ain't no spring chicken.

Why such a radical difference in healing time and recovery?

Simple. It comes down to one's mental resilience.

When I expressed some sympathy at the fact that the reader in question had suffered a lower back injury- I know from firsthand and very painful experience just how debilitating such injuries can be- said reader responded with the following (very slightly edited) statement:
What these many changes in perspective have done for my life is too big to even try to explain. I just decided to act like a man. Get up when you fall, try to never complain, use logic, ditch self pity, do your job better than yesterday, etc., and so on. My health is changed completely as well. Two years ago, this would have taken weeks to get over.
Too right. This is what it takes to succeed in this life. It isn't easy. It isn't simple. It is a path filled with pain, suffering, agony and sweat and devotion.

And for all of that, it is the path that yields the greatest rewards.

It is natural and normal to find oneself confronting life's most difficult challenges, and looking to choose the easy way out. The problem is that if one always seeks the easy route, one will never be prepared for true adversity when it comes knocking.

I've been seeing statements along the lines of, "taking the Red Pill means accepting the necessity of living life on hard mode".

For those who have played "Gears of War", this equates to playing at the "Insane" level of difficulty; for those who play and love HALO, like me, it's more like playing on "Legendary", at all times, with ALL skulls enabled.

This is a special mode known as "Mythic", and it is very nearly impossible for a single player to get through without giving up at some point.

This is a very accurate description of what happens to you when you start taking heavy doses of hard truths. Suddenly, you begin to see the price that the easy and simple choices impose upon you.

At that point, many men- far too many- turn away from the path laid before them and decide to go back to the easy, comfortable, soma-induced seductive visions that modern society offers them. They conclude that it would be less painful and less difficult to simply accept the soft comforts and easy lies of the modern world, instead of questioning themselves and their purpose, and building for themselves the lives that they truly want to live.

In such a state, one can easily believe that the path to happiness is to go to college, pay tens of thousands of dollars every year to learn a worthless subject, and graduate with crushing student debts. It is easy to believe that one should then start working in a government job or multinational corporation, pretending that one's work has actual value beyond that of filing meaningless reports and creating mindless PowerPoint presentations that convey less than zero information. It is simple to think that one should get married without a prenup to the nearest woman who shows any kind of superficial commitment and who is interested in settling down- never mind her past sexual history, her potential as a mother and wife and partner, or her likelihood of actual fidelity.

It is comforting to think that one should never go anywhere near the squat rack in the gym, that one should stick strictly to isolation exercises and never try to push oneself as hard as possible to reach one's maximum strength and power.

It is all too straightforward to accept the mindless consumerist culture of the modern world, and to turn one's back on the harsh yet timeless Truth of the Word of the Lord. It is convenient to argue that the words of the Bible are outmoded and simplistic, out of touch with the needs and realities of modern society- despite the fact that the Word has held true for more than six thousand years.

Life on "Mythic" mode is the exact opposite of all of these things. It comes down to a fundamental shift in beliefs and behaviour. Ultimately, you accept responsibility for your own actions and their outcomes. You accept that you, and you alone, are arbiter and shaper of your own destiny. You accept the Word of God as literal Truth, and you understand that although His compassion for you is infinite, it comes with certain and very specific conditions.

You accept that your health, your welfare, your financial security, and your physical well-being are your responsibility and no one else's.

More than anything else, you accept that the only way forward is to embrace an attitude of mental fortitude and strength.

Doing this is NOT easy. Nor should it ever be.

It is not easy to pick oneself up after a hard fall, in front of a large number of bystanders, and laugh it off.

It is not easy to fail repeatedly when trying to find women for sex and love.

It is not easy to go into the gym and put oneself through workouts that bring mind and body to, and often beyond, their breaking points.

It is not easy to do squats, bench presses, and deadlifts with good form to the greatest extent possible without taking steroids and testosterone supplements, while others at the gym walk around with puffed-up bodies and spend half the time in the gym and seem to get better superficial results.

It is not easy to embrace a life of zero debt, living within one's means to the maximum extent possible, when one's peers are living large on credit, driving flash cars and taking up residence in luxurious homes.

It is not easy to disappoint one's family and their expectations that one settle down and raise a family as soon as possible, because one insists on preserving one's independence and spirit for as long as possible.

There is nothing easy or simple about this road. It requires terrible sacrifices, real pain, and the ability to embrace the challenges of adversity, no matter when and how they come about. It requires resilience of mind and spirit. It requires a degree of self-belief that most men will never have.

So why would any sane man ever undertake to live life like this, when the alternatives are so much easier, so much more superficially rewarding?

Because those illusory "rewards" are always revealed as the siren's song that lures unwary listeners to their doom.

When you live life on "Mythic"- when you accept the responsibility that is yours as a free man to live life on your terms, with full recognition of the consequences that this entails- you accept the rewards that come with that life too.

You accept a life lived on your terms. Even if you are employed by someone else, you accept that it is on you to develop skills and abilities that are independent of your job, and that can be transferred elsewhere.

You accept that it is your responsibility to take care of yourself and your health. You understand and accept the gifts of the Iron God. You accept the fact that he respects only strength, courage, and resilience. You willingly pay the terrible price that he demands of you in terms of time and commitment and mental discipline- because the rewards that he offers, in terms of health and strength, are more than worth it.

You accept women for what they are. You harbour neither illusions nor pretensions about their fundamental natures.

You accept the need to laugh off adversity, to deal with challenges with laconic good humour and a sense of long-term perspective.

You understand that we, as men, must be strong at our very cores, because if we are not, we will crumble and wash away like so much sand before the tides of time.

This road that you embark upon never ends. At certain points it forks and turns back upon itself. It is hard and rocky and painful at every step. There is nothing easy about taking it.

But ultimately, you will find great rewards and great comforts along that road- not least in the fact that your life will have been lived on your terms, and no one else's.

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