Comfort is a slow death.
You would've probably seen this a lot if you've been following us for a while. We have our version of this, but what is yours? The following was sent in to us by one of our followers, @thorin.black and we'd like to share it with you.
What is your version?
The military environment bestows physical and mental hardships that few outside of it will ever understand or have to endure. When the mission was on, no matter how much it sucked, you did it because you had to. There was no other choice- and even if there was, you likely wouldn’t have taken it if it meant leaving those you were working with behind to do it without you.
From patrols through an inhospitable foreign countryside, in extreme temperatures, surrounded by a frequently hostile indigenous demographic, or the excruciating boredom of waiting in place for hours, days, or even weeks on end with little else but the others stuck in the same holding pattern as you to keep yourselves entertained- these were times that for better or worse, the only option you had was to suffer through and ride that bad-boy out. You’d have wanted nothing more at that point to be relaxing on a shaded deck with a cool breeze and colder beer. It sucked hard. You bitched about it. But you did it; and hell if it didn’t leave a mark that- assuming you made it out in one piece- had a serious positive hand in forging you into what you became after that. You were proud. You were a professional. A bad ass motherfucker. But what happens after you leave that environment?
“Comfort is a slow death” - the Skilled-Athlete motto. I first read that phrase earlier last year when I came across the site by chance, mindlessly flicking through the distracting garbage that our phones spew at us on command to momentarily satiate those precious few seconds of nothing that we instinctively avoid now that such vapid entertainment is so readily at our fingers. There I sat, in climate controlled comfort, passively absorbing the banality of the people around me nattering about perceived slights and injustices they engage in willingly- the hardest decision of my day being what to eat for lunch. Those five words felt like they reached up out of the phone and smacked me in the mouth. Suddenly I longed to once again be drenched in sweat and dirt, gat in hand, stomping through some bullshit countryside, halfway through a long slog with boys I’d not seen in what felt like another lifetime ago.
Slowly over years since those experiences I’d been lulled into a suffocatingly comfortable lifestyle- like the analogy of the frog in boiling water. Having moved on from my prior service life, despite now working as a first responder, I realised I hadn’t done anything hard (as in giving it everything you had hard) since hanging up my beret. Yeah I still trained and worked out, but looking back now I see I was just going through the motions- slowly declining in intensity, convincing myself that I was going hard and getting fatter as I went. I’d stopped putting in and hadn’t even noticed.
How the hell did that happen? In my head I was still the same disciplined worker who defined themselves in large part by the hardships I was willing to endure- but since hardship had become a choice, I had little by little receded from it; disassembling my own convictions each step of the way with a soothing excuse of being time-poor or tired from a long day. Each excuse I gave myself raised the temperature of that boiling water another degree. I was still a strong, solid dude and to my civilian friends I was still the hard-nut tough guy, but when that long-range-reality-check hit, I knew better. I was nowhere near what I should have been by that point and it was my fault.
I believe a big part- probably the biggest part of this eventuality was my loss of tribe; something that I will no doubt cover at length another time. During a group PT session, either in a military or sporting/social context- you push and you keep going until the last man is over the line. You put in until you fall over- and even when that happens, there’s a mate next to you to drag your ass up and push you the last few hundred metres. Maintaining the discipline to work at that same level without your tribe surrounding you was something that I had lost. I can’t pin-point where or when, but it happened eventually- eroded by years of having an easy way out always seductively calling without a buddy there to scream at you to go harder and slap you out of it.
The fork in the road presented itself in crystal clarity: resign completely to the weakness that this life of affluence and comfort beckoned and become that soft, benign thing that I despised in others when I saw it, or nut up and get back to putting the effort in- real effort. I saw that the excuses I had given myself for not getting after it were lies. Yeah work was rough that day, yeah I was tired- which was exactly the time I needed to put nose to grindstone. After all, any soft jawed idiot can do the thing when they’re feeling fresh and motivated; it’s doing it when everything is telling you to give up that makes you better and hones the discipline that can raise you above the reach of the lazy unfulfilled version of yourself that waits patiently for you to give up and give in to it.
Those five words struck me so profoundly, they forced me to take that long, hard, confronting look at myself in the mirror. It sucked, and I hated it, but that only reinforced to me that it needed to be done. I made the choice and am walking the hard path again. I’m still nowhere near what I can be yet- but for the first time in years I know that I’m giving it all I’ve got and walking toward the goal of betterment, instead of the easy path taking me away from it.
The boiling water is the comfort you’re surrounded by, and it’ll cook you if you let it; so jump the hell out, and get back to work.
Tom “Thorin” Black
About the author:
Tom enjoys long walks on the beach, waking up early and getting the fuck after it. Believes wholeheartedly that comfort is indeed a slow death. After doing his time in the RAINF, he hung up his beret and ventured out- working security operations in the private sector for a period before transitioning into law enforcement. His career focus is now on instructing paramilitary operational skills. Also likes dogs.
You can find him @Thorin.Black on all the social medias trying to avoid getting sucked into arguing with idiots on the internet.
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