I had two gauchos on the ride with me, I wasn’t alone embarking on some grand adventure, exploring on the back of a horse or defending my clan’s honor in battle as my forefathers may have many a year before I breathed my first breath. I was simply out for a ride with two fellas, shooting the shit, smoking those thinner, dryer Italian cigars laced with a hint of vanilla. I was, however, far away from home, from the familiar, riding through the ranches and mountains and canyons just outside of El Calafate in southern Argentina. (Read: 4 Steps to Glory and Manhood)
We passed many a sheep carcass claimed by one of the pumas that hunted in the area, rode underneath the cover of up to 14 condors at a time, galloped after one of the gaucho’s dogs as the chased after one of the younger calves, nipping at his heels. I was in control of the horse as he took off up the hill nearing the shack that stood next to the pen where the horses were corralled, but how much can you really control a beast of that size and power with only a couple weeks of true experience under your belt?
Looking over the land on horseback, galloping at full speed after the dog who was running at full speed after the calf who was getting caught repeatedly, I felt just enough of a lack of control to create exhilaration that, at least for me can’t fully exist from a view or a scene, but only through action, the climb, the slip, the journey to the destination. Take that view and add in danger or accomplishment in the face of strife or great resistance, and I have my glory.
Glory is renown and honor, accomplishing something great, epic, legendary, but it’s also beauty, magnificence, something so grand that it inspires awe. Men don’t thrive in the familiar, the very nature of it is soul-crushing. We crave glory and adventure and we love movies and books that allows us to live this glory with our eyes and minds, but we still need action. It’s this grandiose existence that makes our souls smile, it’s this audacious way of life that feeds our life-force. (Read: 10 Brutally Honest Facts You Need to Be Reminded Of)
This desire for glory and adventure has been bred into us through time and generations of men who lived as men. It’s innate, a part of who we are as men. Where as boys we dress up as Cowboys and battle Indians or play war or cops and robbers, adventure and danger are the necessary nutrients for our souls to feel alive and as if this existence has a meaning and purpose. This thirst to conquer and command and defend, a hunger for adventure, to claim our fears and to fight, literally, with a greater purpose guiding our sword, our bullet, our spear, returns to the soul of each man when he’s in his habitat; the sprawling wilderness calling him to adventure.
Put a man on a horse’s back and he feels, for a second, like Jessie James or Napoleon Bonaparte or William fucking Wallace. Put a sword in his hands and his consciousness is jolted with the reality that men have conquered and defended their tribes with the cold, hard steel in their hands for thousands of years. The connection is there, between us and past warriors, and we need to feed it.
My fear is that it’s now being bred out of us, if that’s even possible. We’re told to calm down, to conform, we’re given drugs to temper our rambunctious souls. We sit more than we stand. We’re fatter and weaker and growing averse to risk in the odd sense that danger is risk, not fully grasping the danger of avoiding danger and adventure as our lives become a monotonous existence that if, as a lad, we were told we had to live I’m sure we’d rather just take a dive off a cliff and experience some semblance of excitement.
Men need action. We need glory not only to find meaning in this grand existence, but to live.
To put a pen in a man’s hand and tell him it’s mightier than the sword in his other is like telling a lion he doesn’t need his claws nor his fangs, that he can reason with the gazelle that attempts to rid him of his dinner. Writing is a passion of mine, it makes me feel alive, gives me purpose and serves as an area of expression, yet it pales in comparison to the thrill of a good fist fight. It may do more good, this pen when placed in our hand than the sword, but the sword makes us feel alive, it gives us control and yet it can’t give us complete control because that’s not in its nature, nor is that the nature of the struggle.
Alas, with our hands sword-less, and our cities gateless, the battles we once fought exist far beyond our borders and the responsibilities that once fit squarely on our shoulders now reside on another’s. So in this life of routine and monotony and corporate ladders, how do men win glory, this internal desire we all share to taste victory, to conquer, to feel freedom flowing through our veins?
It’s More Than Danger
Fear, pure fear, isn’t this glory I speak of. Terror, though exhilarating isn’t fun or even beneficial beyond the fact that it shows us just how much we can live through. It has value, but we need a purpose to this danger. Glory is an adventure with a purpose, a goal we strive for and finally reach in the face of great resistance and because of even greater persistence.
It’s a victory earned, not given. It’s an experience created, a life changed, a moment that no one, no thing can take away from us for it’s ours and that cannot change.
Glory Isn’t Fame
Though men in history surely obtained fame in the pursuit of glory, glory can’t be obtained while in the pursuit of fame. Fame is an illusion. It’s a creation by an outside entity and dependent on the views and opinions of sheep, followers, the flock.
Glory requires a greater purpose, something beyond popularity. The famous include a multitude of idiotic, cowardly humans. The glorious are those who created change in the face of resistance, fought tyranny in the face of odds that defied logic.
Glory isn’t the focus of the pursuit, nor fame. Change is and always has been the pursuit, and few have created so much change that their story has been passed down through time and generations and even centuries.
William Wallace brought freedom, Christ, a new message and salvation, Napoleon conquered, Jessie James stole from the North after they raped the South becoming a legend among those who still vehemently resented the North. Robert E. Lee fought the odds and for his countrymen, Theodore Roosevelt fought infantile weakness and then corruption, and Lincoln fought for people.
Each pursued something far different than their own fame (though Napoleon may have fought for his own greatness, if you read his history, his desire to conquer was rooted in once being conquered, interesting story, interesting man). Each, however, fought. Christ fought the church and the religious elite and the system of economic corruption, every other battle was pretty literal. The key is the battle and the pursuit.
As we discussed, however, glory is also beauty, it can be something internal, something seen or experienced that makes you a better man. Without the action, the control along with the lack of control, glory can’t be felt only seen. What you’ll find, though, is that our internal glorious moments prepare us for greater glories and victories.
Each of the aforementioned men had adventures that led to their glorious victories, moments of failure and struggle and resistance that enabled them to win glory in the end.
The constant is activity, pursuit. The pursuit of the fears that aim to confine our lives to the soul-crushing mundane lives that are very easy to slip into and remain in until death.
Pursue action. Pursue adventure. Wade mightily into your fears with the pride and the control that will enable you to thrive amidst the heart-pounding fear that cripples most. (must read: Bold as a Lion)
Glory Requires Courage, An Ideal.
I just finished reading Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly. It’s a wonderful, wonderful read that brings you into the historical life of Jesus, removing even many of his teachings from the narrative and simply conveying the battles he fought and died for, and the ideals he pursued.
Jesus knew of his impending death, yet he didn’t flee. He knew the pain that would be inflicted upon him, the torture, the slow death that would come, yet as he stood and prayed in the Mount of Olives awaiting his Roman captures. He could have fled in that wide open space, he could have whisked away in the darkness of the night, yet he stood firm. Even days before the night the Romans took him away he could have not stood up in the temple and condemned the actions of the religious elite, a stance that likely sealed his fate, but one that he felt with all of his soul he had to take.
Yet, again, he didn’t flee nor did he avoid controversy or danger, he walked right into death’s arms and died a brutal, brutal death. I believe it was for you and I, but regardless of your beliefs, the man, forget about the duality or the deity, but the man fought every urge to run and hide from what his mission, his purpose, required of him.
The fight that glory requires may exist on the battlefield or it may not, regardless of where it occurs, in your mind or your soul, against a physical opponent or a personal demon, it must be for an ideal. Read: Men Want Freedom
Thus, as a man you must not only know what your ideals and values are, but you have to be willing to die for them.
We can say that we’re willing to do so, I’d like to think I am, but glory is won by so few because so very few are willing to lay their lives down, as Jesus did and Wallace did, and accept their painful death when it could have easily been escaped had they only said something that compromised who they are or the values they stood for.
Think about all of the ways we compromise our values. We settle for less than what we’re capable of accomplishing, we don’t stand and fight for what we believe when we’re in a group of friends or peers because it’s a risk to our popularity. We don’t acknowledge our beliefs. We don’t fight against evil because it’s not politically correct or popular to even identify it as evil or wrong. We’re weak, so very weak. Yet to win glory we have to become strong. We have to be able to stand on our values in times of tribulation to the point where we’d rather welcome death than go against them.
Daily, we must fight to be the honorable men that just aren’t popular in today’s society. Men that take stances, defend those who need defending, and call the evil that exists in the world out, fighting it, defeating it.
Glory, oddly enough, can’t be found in popularity, though years after the feat, the popularity of the glorious men who fought for something greater than their own wealth, often in the face of their health, can rarely be matched.
William Wallace may have fought for a sentiment that was popular amongst his countrymen, but the desire to fight a much larger enemy was something he had to prove to his countrymen that it could be achieved. Very few wanted to fight the English, he had to lead them, to show them the way.
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The Problem With Glory and Our Society
There are two things that are rarely feared more in today’s society than being alone and being dead. Death and death’s cousin, pain, and loneliness are our two primary fears and it’s these fears that hold us to lives that are beneath those that we’re capable of living.
They oppose glory.
Pat Tillman, who’s biography is aptly named Where Men Win Glory (link to buy the book), let his conscious lead his actions, his values dictate his decisions. To follow your conscious, to take a stand for what is right rather than what’s popular (the two very rarely align), and to risk your life in this pursuit of justice goes against everything our society and our majority stand for.
The sheep, however, can’t tell the lion how to live or what to do. What you have to figure out is if you’re a lion or a sheep? Are you going to let your values lead your actions or are you going to let popularity and popular culture determine as to where you set your sails? Check out: Will You Teach Me To Be a Man?
Get Used to Obscurity
Solitude can’t be something that you avoid, rather, something you use. Your adventures don’t have to be shown to the world or shared with a group. You adventures, like those that TR embarked on growing up and even into adulthood are for you. They’ll make you stronger, they’ll add to your legend when your story is written down for the rest of us to read in wonder.
In all seriousness, if you aim to live a glorious life, keep a journal. Theodore Roosevelt’s biographies are some of the best books I’ve read, their detail is incredible, something that’s only possible because of the detailed journals he kept.
Work is also done better in solitude, in places devoid of distraction. If you want to accomplish anything, get used to both being unpopular and being alone. Work on becoming better and you’ll have your tribe in time.
Just Do The Opposite
The majority can have their monotonous lives. They can give up when struggles come their way or look for the easy way out. Your glory, your own personal glory exists in doing the opposite. It is found in doing what’s necessary, what must be done for your family. It’s hidden within both hard work and persistence.
You can find it when you face your fears and get uncomfortable. You’ll create it when you stand for your beliefs, for what’s right, for your values, digging your heels in and not giving up until the battle is won.
Glory is found in doing pretty much the opposite of what has become popular in today’s society, in doing the opposite of the majority who crave safety and cower at danger’s sight. You have a compass that leads your soul to where it wants to go, follow that compass, no matter how hard it may be, follow it. Live life. Be Legendary. Read: Try NOT Being Yourself for a Change