“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.”
For countless millennia, men have waged war. We have sacrificed blood, sweat, tears, time with loved ones, and often our very lives all to ensure a brighter future for our descendants. Over the many thousands of years of bitter conflict, we adapted – no, adapted isn’t accurate…
We learned how to thrive.
Those who couldn’t rise to the task were weeded from the gene pool, leaving the strong to carry on. Over countless ages, this got imprinted into our very DNA. Men are born with an innate desire to compete, to clash against an adversary and rise as the victor.
It’s a clash of wits and a battle of wills.
Bodies crash into each other as both sides vie for the advantage.
Things have certainly changed in modern times, but not as much as we like would like to believe.
The battlefield has become an conference room.
Your armor and sword have been traded for a business suit and laptop.
Instead of negotiating the terms of surrender, you negotiate contracts.
Some men thrive under these new conditions while others search for a way out of the rat race. Some resign themselves to being stuck behind their desk at a dead-end job they hate until they either finally earn enough to retire or die, whichever comes first.
The men that fall into that last category are already dead.
Whether you see yourself as one or not, you are a warrior like your ancestors before you. The setting is different, but the objective is still the same: Pursuing a brighter future for your descendants.
Let that sink in. You are a warrior. Every morning you stride forth to battle and every evening you return home to your waiting family. Your paychecks are the spoils of war, rewarded to you for battles well fought.
You probably don’t think of life this way, but you should. To view each day as a fight for your very future creates a grim urgency to the tasks that lay before you for you will understand that today isn’t a guarantee, neither is tomorrow.
“One who is a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind…the fact that he has to die. If he is always mindful of this, he will be able to live in accordance with the paths of loyalty and filial duty, will avoid myriads of evils and adversities, keep himself free of disease and calamity and moreover enjoy a long life. He will also be a fine personality with many admirable qualities. For existence is impermanent as the dew of evening, and the hoarfrost of morning, and particularly uncertain is the life of the warrior…”
-Code of the Samurai
Will you march into the fray with your head held high or cower in fear?
Will you eagerly await the next battle or drag your feet?
Will your integrity and honor inspire others to do great things?
Take a half hour to look back on your life so far. If you died today, what sort of legacy would you leave behind? Would your family be taken care of or be left destitute? What problems have you shrugged your shoulders at and said you’ll leave them for another day that never comes?
In the blink of an eye, the another day becomes another month, then another year. Soon you are in your twilight years wishing you had done so much more.
Today I want you to make a promise, not to me but to yourself. Promise yourself to live each day like it was your last; like today you will be face to face with death and your victory over him for another day rests on the outcome of a coin flip.
“Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
― Homer, The Iliad
Get up early each morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that another day of glorious battle is upon you. Don your armor, be it a suit and tie or overalls. Get out there and face the conflict with honor.
Finally, when it is over and you drag your weary body home, pick up your wife and kiss her like you might never see her again. Play with your kids and create memories that will stay with them for long after you’re gone. Sleep well and eat better. Lastly, take care of your body, mind, and soul so you can face the following day with renewed vigor.
Your job sucks, trust me I get that. The daily grind can weigh heavy on your soul and leave you wondering when it will end. This is your war. The trials and rigors that you endure every day are the fires that will either harden you or melt you away to a husk of a man. It will test your patience and your mettle. Whether you succeed or fail depends on your mindset.
If you approach the upcoming day with dread, you will surely die. Your soul will be chipped away ever so slightly more and set up the next day for the same.
If, however, you greet the day with courage and determination and you fight with all the strength you can muster, you may very well survive to fight another day.
One fateful day, your war will be over and you will reap what you sow. Now take some time to look at how your future is likely to shape up based off your current trajectory. What do you see? Do you see a tight-knit family, a comfortable retirement, and the health to enjoy it all in your future?
Those are your spoils of war. Enjoy the benefits of your hard work persistence to keep going strong where others falter.
Incepto Ne Desistam