“What is happiness?” Nietzsche asked. “It is the feeling of power increasing.” You can increase your power by increasing your skillfulness, your competence, and your confidence. And you can build all these strengths through The Strenuous Life.
You can do more with your life.
But winning will never come easy…. And training yourself to do more, to be a better human, a more competent man, a more empowered woman, to get stronger, to break addictions, to accomplish more in your day, to keep a garden and take care of animals, to hold your own in a community that calls on you to serve others, to start and maintain a side business hustle, a website, and a study, to apprentice your skills, to build a healthy marriage, to hold a strong spiritual practice, to figure it out on your own, to rigorously examine the way you live each moment of every day, and to bring life to bitter seeds takes, this takes time and a surmountable amount of courage.
These are things I have failed at during different times of my life. I have let down my brothers and sisters, I have seen social politics fray my market garden project, my plants have died, and some times old vices have attracted me. My spiritual arts have been neglected for weeks for lack of the right feeling, and I’ve struggled to understand the sex feminine. Even the internal work felt like mundane and unnecessary effort at rare times in my life. Yet through all these, I have grown in tremendous capacities, in my ability to do, and be at very high levels. I have set deep roots that entwine with my brothers and sisters lives that can not be dug up, I have thick bark for skin, and my strength, creative force, will, and honor have become identifier marks of my own personal mythos. I have held a wife to embrace the ancient role of the husband, a provider, protector, and lover. Now I tend the lives diligently of not only myself but also other animals, and a garden of plenty. I offer my highest virtues to peers and my tribe and keep strong boundaries against those who wish to tear down. I live a beautiful life in the country, and for the simple pleasures that affords I am grateful. I do not carry debt, and am free from any addictions. I feel the support of my family, that had to be earned, through trust, feelty, hard work, humility and patience yoked together with a strong dose of good karma. My spiritual practice has become refined and potent, as I am informed by the yogic arts. I freely travel, and stay put. I work for what I need, savor what I want, and spend my money wisely. My body has healed and feels strong, powerful, and virile. I can perform the works of three adults and maintain this capacity all year, even if my health becomes compromised.
Before all this came sacrifice, and strenuosity. The need fire kindled for a life spent that would outlive my actual existence here. The call to live greatly, to start the world, the only one you inhabit. To live by the tenets of myth, poetry and archetypes and actually seek the person you want to be by starting where you are. It came through being tough, working hard, dealing with setback on a constant basis, breaking down illusions even if it ostracized me sometimes, navigating the murky nature of other peoples personality, not settling for anything less than the best quality of life I can attain, or letting my boundaries be invaded. My life was forged through radical self love, following instinct, determination to see a means to its end, yoking ties with other allies to mutually bolster our efforts in the world, through joining men’s clubs, community circles, traditional guilds, volunteering my time and labor in 16 countries, intensive study on all important worldly matters, teaching to people that didn’t know me, and learning from anyone I came into contact with.
So what does it all boil down to? It means living a life where you can go to sleep at night knowing you have done more than just enough, that other people have been moved by their experiences with you, to live without the constant regret and dreaming of an easier life, and the complaints of everything that is going wrong, and actually just doing the work that deals with how hard it can be. To embrace struggle as does any other animal through adaptation, cleverness, and grace. To hold within your heart for the moment a feeling a well being, and believing you are strong, standing open, and animate. There is no other feeling like living all the way alive, than making the leap through the hurdles of fear, self-loathing, intimidation, and boredom. You can have more with your life. You can see the world. You can get to that place where you are king or queen, or god of your own domain. I have figured a few potent truths out, and have seen dthe trapline, even been caught in it, but there is only one way to make it through this life, and that is with fierce joy in the face of all the goes dark. Everything you do is relevant, but don’t just think about it, act like it, and keep going!