“Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then the HELL with you!” – Conan, the Barbarian
Imagine this, you are hanging out with your woman in the living room when a huge cockroach crawls under your feet. You jump off the couch and screamed “Oh my god! Kill it! Please kill it!” to your woman, would she be impressed? Would she be swept off her feet and give herself to you? I think it would be quite the opposite. Here is another one, you are at the bar having a drink with your best buds in the world when one of them got into an argument with another patron that is quickly escalating. You suddenly left your friends when things got out of hand, and you were nowhere to be found when your friends needed you. Do you think that they would be impressed? I think you just lost your best friends in the world because of your cowardness… I do not know about the ladies, but I am pretty sure I do not want to be friends with someone who disappears when I got my head pummeled into the pavement. I am not here to promote violence or hyper-masculinity, but what I am here for is to promote courage and freedom.
In my previous life, I am pretty much a pushover. I let people walk over me, and I do not bother myself with anything. And worst, I am a coward; I lived in a fearful life full of “what ifs”, What if I lose? What if I fail? What if I get rejected? Until I discovered weight lifting, and for that moment I felt confident, strong, and manly. That started my ideas of a barbarian, inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Conan, the barbarian.
The barbarian kicks ass, saves the kingdom, and gets the girl. There is no doubt that they are one of the depictions of courage and freedom. Free from the societal norms and fearless, barbarians walk through life in loincloths and a broadsword in hand. It was just recently that I swore to myself to become a barbarian whatever it takes, to live a life of courage and freedom, a life of strength and virtue. The process is slow and tedious, and I still have a long way to go. Often, I stumble and most of the time I am second guessing myself but often find a resolve to carry on. Here are some of the things I learned as I continue this journey of discovering myself.
- Seek guidance – One of the best ways to learn is through example, find someone whom you consider to be living a life of courage and freedom (or whatever virtue you envision a barbarian has) and just talk to them. Shake hands and make small talk, connect to them and ask them if you could hang out with them every now and then. Just talk and do stuff together, there is no need to ask them questions about the meaning of life. Just open yourself to their energy and be inspired.
- Lean just beyond the edge – Intentionally inject manageable stress into your daily lives, step out of your comfort zone and develop a challenging environment for yourself. It is time to ask that attractive woman you keep on bumping in to for her number or possibly a date, ask your boss for a raise, engage in small talk with strangers. Be daring, when most men do not bother and do the things that make you uncomfortable.
- Be dangerous – Now that you have established your edge, it is time to kick it up a notch and be dangerous; I repeat DANGEROUS not STUPID. Go try out a new sport, visit a new country, wear something that you do not usually wear, read a book that challenges your outlook in life. It is time to experiment and broaden your horizon; use your edge as your guide. You will never know until you try.
- Be physical – a man’s greatest gift to the world is his physicality so embrace it. Run, lift, climb, swim, be physical. Develop your gifts, being strong is never a weakness and never out of style. Do not be one of those pencil necks who sits on their ass all day; get your ass up and move.
- Spend time in uncontrolled environments – get in touch with your manhood through nature, step out of your cubicle or sofa and experience life right in front of your eyes, breath in fresh air and listen to the very essence of life itself. Often, we wanted things to be under control, our job, our homes, our relationships that we forgot that the only thing we can control in life is ourselves. So, familiarize yourself with the unfamiliar and embrace the chaos.
- And lastly, do not be afraid to look ridiculous – often we do not try because we are afraid to fail, we are afraid to look stupid. But always remember that a master is a beginner once. So, go ahead and dance like you mean it, court the spotlight and do not bother yourself with what others might say.
There is always something liberating about living wild, the courage to face what is in front of you, defying the expectations of others. Having the courage to quit my old day job and break free from a rather oppressive culture, I took a step away from my comfort zone and opened a whole new world of possibilities for myself. Having the courage to open up myself to other people, giving myself the chance to express my thoughts regardless of what it may be. Freedom from the conventional and from what everybody else thinks of what should be and dare not to be different but rather extraordinary; give the world your pure and unadulterated gift.
There is always a hint of madness in pursuing a life of meaning and purpose; most of the time other people could barely comprehend the method to this madness but do not falter. Follow your heart and aim for the stars; your meaning, purpose, and mission must come above all else and must be pursued with much vigor and enthusiasm that is maddening.
Stop taming yourself and unleash yourself from the cage, be free and follow your dreams. You can not half-ass life, so let yourself mad even for just a little bit and live a life of courage and freedom.