December 29 – Be a Beast…but Keep your Sword Sheathed


Be prepared for war…but don’t ever start one.  Always be ready to deal with chaos and stress…but don’t be the source of it.  Life can be very challenging at times. Often we find ourselves in adverse circumstances.  They happen every day, ranging from small to large. And we actually need them to thrive. Even at a cellular level, we know that small amounts of stress is what encourages our bodies to grow.  However, it’s very easy to become inundated with all of the multiple sources of that chaos. Individuals commonly find themselves overwhelmed by the ceaseless onslaught of suffering in their lives.   

Ailments, injuries, sickness…bills, taxes, insurance…car problems, property repairs, computer viruses…betrayal, stand ups, let downs…rejection, inadequacy, death…the list goes on and on and on.  

Ask yourself…are you completely prepared (mentally and physically) to confront all of that?  Are you going to be able to crush one or 2 of those…rest for a bit…and then take on more? Have you considered what would be the most effective mindset for handling those issues?  Do you think about the physical body, and how a strong and healthy structure is what will help to withstand that chaotic assault?

The answer for most of us is ‘yes’.  Unless you’re succumbing to the pressure…unless you’re falling apart, breaking down, and not finding a way to put yourself back together…then you are prepared.  You are crushing all of what life is throwing at you. You have built a beast. The human spirit is extraordinary and fascinating. It’s beautiful and powerful beyond belief.  We’re not omnipotent…but almost. There are so many stories speaking to the amazing human condition, in which an individual goes through excruciating pain and loss but then somehow climbs back in the face of that.  And it reveals how we can even stay positive through all of this adversity…we can still remain remarkably optimistic, and still make astounding progress. It’s not like we’re all constantly thinking about the bad things that are present in our lives…or that could be lurking around the corner.  That constant focus on the negative wouldn’t be an enjoyable life. Most of us are focused on all of the beautiful aspects of life, and the wondrous abilities afforded to us. But it becomes very evident real fast if we’re not prepared for life’s challenges.

When I was a young teenager, one of my friends and his father would order boxing matches on pay-per-view.  We’d often gather there really late on a Saturday night in hopes of a really good contest. Mike Tyson was one of the boxers who we frequently watched.  He was the epitome of a beast. The ferocity and intensity with which he fought was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. You could see that there was a deeper significance to his fighting.  He was battling some real demons in the ring as well…and you would not want to be on the receiving end of his blows. I have this particular image in my mind though…it was before a fight, in the training room.  Tyson was sitting so very calmly in a sweat suit. He had his hood up on his head….and it darkened his face so that his eyes were like a monster, hiding in the dark. His opponent was warming up, breaking a sweat already, throwing jabs in another locker room…typical pre-fight activity.  But Tyson was doing what predators and beasts do…waiting for their prey to be exposed. I remember noticing that he was totally covered…I couldn’t see any of his muscles yet. But I had this sense of what was contained within that sweat suit. It was an unstoppable rage. It was the product of chaos, and stress, and work, and preparation.  It was anyone whoever picked on him or beat him up for his high-pitched voice, or for being small. And it was patiently waiting to be released when the bell rang. His opponent might as well have not came out. It didn’t matter who it was. Tyson’s opponent didn’t have a chance in that ring. It was over in the locker room.

Mike Tyson was one of the best when it came to ‘being a beast’.  Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to ‘keep his sword sheathed’. It would have been fine if all the fighting he did was inside of the boxing ring.  But he had multiple altercations in many other areas of his life…allegedly brought on by his own behavior.  That was not admirable. That made him the opposite of a good model. It was easy to see that his qualities and character could take care of anything…but also that when they went unharnessed, how bad things could go.  

Train the body well.  Train it hard. Train it so that underneath your sweat suit…you have a contained beast, ready to take on the harsh realities of nature.  Prepare it so that you’re capable within your environment. Consider the possible threats in your environment (cold, hot, sickness, other people, etc.), and build your body to handle them.  Exercise your body so that it laughs at all of the physical adversity thrown at it…it asks for more.

Train the mind.  Educate yourself.  Arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to contend with harsh realities.  Learn from others. Grab advice from others who are living well…who have found the right paths.  Become incredibly self-aware. Lean on your strengths…and develop some of your weaknesses. Detach yourself from situations, and reflect on them, asking what went well…what didn’t?  Pay attention to your behaviors, and adapt when necessary. Practice ownership and autonomy as much as possible. Value the hell out of what others have to offer…and certainly take the help when needed (there will be times when you are weak, and down…don’t be too proud to grasp at a hand to pull you up)…but train yourself emotionally to take everything on yourself.  Ultimate responsibility…ultimate freedom. Get to a place where you can handle it all…regardless. Nothing can stop you. You have your limits, yes…and you love and value those around you. But you aren’t ‘needy’. You got it.

Keep your sword sheathed though.  You’re not out starting intellectual battles with others to prove how much you learned.  Debating to discover truths is valuable.  Don’t devalue the group across the aisle though, because of what you’ve come to accept as your beliefs. You need that other group to strengthen the areas that you aren’t a part of…to balance out the equation…to build this incredible society that you’re thriving in.  Don’t let your rage come out physically. Don’t start arguments and confrontations, knowing that you’ve prepared your body for that. That is insecurity. Avoid physical altercations at all costs. Avoid negativity. When you must…defend yourself. But then, put the sword away.  Go back to your cave, and get back to doing what beasts do.


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