Seeing Gen Y as “heroic” may seem like quite a stretch to some. But as Howe pointed out in my interview with him, “Remember that no one said anything about the GIs being the Greatest Generation until the very end of the last fourth turning.” No one thought the last Hero generation was anything special at the time either; it was only in retrospect, after they had fully risen to the challenge of their age, that they were venerated.
The linked article is rather long and covers a wide variety of sources and ideas — some I’d venture most “modern” people won’t be interested in. BUT, the thread running through this is very real, so I’ve pull-quoted a very useful bit for your consideration.
These days, cues on living a virtuous life are virtually absent from school or popular culture. And there are thousands of other stimuli vying for your attention. What this means is that you can’t hope to accidentally bump into cues every day that will help you remember the things that are most important to you. Instead, you have to purposefully plan for your regular exposure to those cues. You do this by regularly reading your scriptures, or personal manifesto, or books on philosophy and development, and doing other things which continually pull up all your past feelings and insights into the man you want to be, bringing them to bear on your present challenges.
Despite of all this seeming weight, a certain part of ourselves remains unmoored. We don’t lack for tasks, but we do lack meaningful ones. We haven’t made any goals since college. We don’t experience the tension that emerges in “the gap between what one is and what one should become,” because the gap simply doesn’t exist – at a certain point we stopped aiming for anything above paying the bills and checking off to-dos.
We think we want rest and relaxation – the absence of all labor and responsibility – but what we really crave is the presence of meaningful work and interests. We don’t want a complete lack of tension, but a different variety of it.
We don’t need less stress, but more of the right kind.
This piece is a clear manifesto that coincides with my efforts of the past couple years: “Load the arch intentionally!”
Always, in any government, among any people, there are certain forces for evil that take many shapes, but which are rooted in the same base and evil characteristics of the human soul, in the evil of arrogance, of jealousy, envy, hatred; and to certain people the appeal is made to yield to one set of evil forces. To some it is made to yield to another set, and the result is equally bad in each case. The vice of arrogance, of hard and brutal indifference on the part of those with wealth toward those who have not, is a shameful and dreadful vice. It is not one whit worse than the rancorous hatred and jealousy of those who are not well off for those who are. The man, who, either by practice or precept, seeks to give to any man or withhold from him any advantage in law or society or in the workings of society or business because of wealth or poverty, is false to the traditions of this republic.
Wether you love it, or hate it, we get the government we deserve — the government we collectively earn. Each individual one of us, through our minute by minute actions, contributes to the fabric of our society.
If not “I”, then who? If I “check out”, ignore it all, or bury my head in the sand, then that is exactly my contribution to society. “NO!” I say. I’ll stand up for Morality. Ethics. Philosophy. Principles. Rights. The Rule of Law. My goal is not to “rage quit” from this Republic. I will not bitch, moan nor leave. But rather, my goal is to speak up when I’ve something positive to say, to contribute positively to society, and to engage others in meaningful discourse.
Men and women may in the end be forced to admit: “I made a fool of myself,” and still be fairly happy. But no one can possibly be satisfied, and therefore no one can in my sense be happy, who feels that in some paramount affair he has failed to take up the challenge of life. For a voice within him, which none else can hear, but which he cannot choke, will constantly be murmuring:
“You lacked courage. You hadn’t the pluck. You ran away.”
And it is happier to be unhappy in the ordinary sense all one’s life than to have to listen at the end to that dreadful interior verdict.
This blind spot in our perception is why we confidently tell ourselves that we’ll start that business, lose the weight, repair our relationship, get organized…in a few weeks or a few months, because then we’ll have more time. It’s an illusion. It’s a self-deception that allows us to soothe the pangs of our unfulfilled desires with the panacea that now is not the right time. The mirage of the time-filled future can string a man along until he’s 80, has one foot in the grave, and realizes that the expanse of time he imagined would open never appeared.
Without male mentors, many men of this generation have felt adrift, unsure of how to deal with an indescribable but acute lack in their lives.
How did we get to the point where it is possible, as Edward Abbey put it, “to proceed from infancy into senility without ever knowing manhood?”
Many people have had success using these life optimization tools and tricks, and they’re not necessarily a bad thing. Their effect all depends on which of two relationships someone has with hacking:
Hacking approach #1 can be beneficial; every man should have a little MacGyver in him and keep some duct-tape solutions in his back pocket. And if there’s a better way to cut an onion, by all means, go for it.
But hacking approach #2 invariably leads to a life that’s less optimal, not more. The damage results not so much from the actual hacking practices themselves, but from the mindset their pursuit and adoption begets.
This is a rather large, long (and I think, well written) series of posts from Brett over at Art of Manliness. Well worth a read in my opinion.
The truth is, that wherever we are in life, we all have pockets of time that we own, and that we could be doing more to actively shape and make the most of. It’s just that so often we default to the path of least resistance. Unbelievably, Americans only use 51% of their paid vacation and paid days off. When we’re not working, and do have free time, rather than pursuing a constructive hobby or side business, we’ll often plop in front of the TV or mindlessly surf the internet. Instead of seeking out good books to read to feed our minds, we default to consuming whatever information happens to pop up in our Facebook feeds. The ironclad rules that governed our childhood are long gone, and yet we still don’t feel fully in control of our lives. We feel swept along by the currents of our responsibilities, so that our lives seem to go by in a unthinking haze – a fog that is ever so often perforated by the question: “Why haven’t things turned out the way I had hoped?”
Say yes whenever you can and overcome the inertia of rigmarole. One of the greatest impediments to adventure as an adult is the number of your responsibilities, and how said responsibilities sap your willpower. Psychologists have shown that we have a limited supply of willpower each day, that if we use it for one thing, we have less it for another, and that when our willpower runs low, our default answer to everything becomes “no.”
Creating an awesome adulthood involves using your imagination to create a story for yourself, and then taking ceaseless action to bring that narrative to life. It’s like riding a stationary bike that powers a film projector: to create a new world — to project your chosen narrative on the screen of your life — you must pedal continuously.
WWII Workout Week concludes with some exercises you can do to improve your posture. While posture is an oft neglected part of physical training programs, it provides a myriad of benefits and can boost both your physiological functions and your confidence.
Circa 1946, from the Army field manual FM 21-20. Ten-HUT!