5 Lessons for my Younger Self

This might be a topic better left for the me that will be here 4-5 years from now. By then my mid term goals should be complete and I’ll be in a much better position to give advice.

Nevertheless, I write this list now, not because I can make the best list of its kind but because there’s one thing everybody should be able to do: look back at all the times they slammed balls first into a wall and say “hey, maybe I should’ve dodged that”.

Lesson 1: If You Don’t Want To End Up Like Your Parents Don’t Follow Their Life Advice

My parents were not big on dental hygiene. I’m at 3 root canals now with another one needing to be scheduled. It’s easy to be angry at them for trying to instill all sorts of stupid shit into me but somehow miss on this very important element of life, if they weren’t both wearing prosthetics because their teeth lines were decimated by their own negligence.

My parents also struggled with money management & making profitable life decisions. They are both engineers but it took them years to find good, stable jobs after immigrating to Canada. After hitting serious depression starting in Grade 10, I told my mom maybe I should do a 2 year college, but she wouldn’t even hear of it.

Immigrant parents are very big on education, you must do a 4 year university. The “lawyers and doctors” talk was very common, occasionally interrupted by “ceo”. So I went to a 4 year university, with long (1 hour plus) commutes on subways packed to the brim with people like sardines. Not conductive to mood enhancements. A year and a half later my depression was so bad I didn’t even go to classes anymore.

I can go on and on, but the point here is that your parents aren’t the ones who have to live your life, you are. If your parents are successful in an endeavor you want to undertake by all means listen to their advice.

Just understand they are human. Most humans fail on the regular. Few achieve more than a mediocre amount of success. If you want more, and they don’t have it, there is little they can do to help you get it. Eat their food, shit in their toilet, use their room, then go do what you have to do, even if they don’t know or understand.

Lesson 2: Depression Is Despair, And Overridden By Purpose And Action

Despair, hopelessness, whatever you want to call it becomes chronic if you can’t see a way out. And the panic that comes with them can muddle your thoughts and prevent you from seeing a way out. Training an iron mind can act as a buffer against this, but the biggest issue for depressed men today is that their life has no purpose, and thus no meaning.

Others try to find meaning and purpose in simple but powerful elements of life like family, and it works for some of them, but for the rest of us it never satisfies that deep, primal desire to be tested against something hard and come out on top.

To beat depression you must find a purpose to live for that you can feel to the very core of your being, and bathe your mind in it until it overwhelms every other thought. And to do this it’s not enough to just fantasize about the final outcome, you must think, as much as possible, about HOW to get there. When I started the current phase of my self improvement journey a year ago, I didn’t just think about where I wanted to get, but how to get there. I’ve always had big plans, even during the worst of the depression, but this clear distinction, of planning a course of action and actually starting to make moves to make it happen is what finally snapped me out of it.

A destination without the journey is just mental masturbation. Think, plan, wonder and fantasize about the journey just as much, if not more than the destination. This is the key difference between getting there vs it remaining a distant dream.

Lesson 3: Take Care Of Your Body

Mens sana in corpore sano

When you are young you can neglect your health (never run, never walk for more than 5 minutes, never lift, half-ass brush your teeth once in a while, eat sugar by the kilo) & not usually suffer any serious physical consequences.

Once you near 30 this starts to change. There are mental side-effects to neglecting the basic things that would keep most of us healthy throughout adulthood, but once you’re in your 30s neglecting them starts taking a physical toll as well.

Every man who can lift should lift.

You should also do SOME cardio. You don’t need to run marathons, but going for a short walk daily (~30 minutes) and doing some HIIT will greatly improve your endurance in everything you do (including lifting).

Lesson 4: There Is A Trade-Off For Everything

Entire books could be written on this topic. But the bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing you can get without sacrificing something else. I call it the law of equivalent exchange (don’t @ me weebs). The wisdom comes in knowing that trades can be made across multiple attributes, and that the value of a thing depends in part on the needs of the two parties (or the arbiter). It’s why two people can exchange goods or services and both be satisfied and why we sometime sacrifice things we may have in abundance to get something we need (IE: money).

The harder part to grasp for many is that this law applies not just to consumer goods or services but also to your own future.

And when you trade for a future the transaction is not optional because what is being traded away is time.

Every second that goes by was traded away whether you want to let it go or not.

So trade wisely.

Lesson 5: Master The Basics

Money, health, relationships. I would add spirituality but I’ve never suffered on this front so despite being a very religious person I can’t offer much advice on this front, there’s a reason why the greatest saints were often reformed sinners.

Money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy freedom and hedges against many things that cause misery.

Health is something you take for granted when you have it and which overwhelms all other considerations when you lose it. At the height of my weight I also had severe sleep apnea. To be diagnosed with severe sleep apnea you need an AHI over 30. AHI is a measurement of how many times per hour you stop breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep. Mine was 80. 100 when sleeping on my back. Thankfully I reversed some of the weight gain but for more than half a year I had to sleep with a cpap device. Not a pleasant experience. Long term it causes cardiovascular damage (as your heart struggles to provide enough oxygen to all your tissues) and contributes to other chronic diseases like diabetes.

Relationships are both overvalued and undervalued. I am not talking just about romantic relationships, but relationships with people in general. When I became depressed I also became more socially isolated. I was always a lone wolf but after high school I took this to extremes. And the lose it or lose it principle comes into play here too. When the depression lifted I found my social skills considerably less polished than they were before.

Mastering the basics doesn’t guarantee greatness, purpose or fulfillment but it is a requirement for just about anything else worth doing.

Hanging From the Edge of the World

I always keep my eye peeled for strange or out of the ordinary news stories. Back in 2017 one news item caught my eye:

“Famed Chinese ‘rooftopper’ falls to his death from 62-storey building in stunt gone wrong”

The grim moment was caught on camera (the slip from the top, not the actual splat on the asphalt below, as far as I can tell).You can watch it here. It’s not particularly morbid as far as internet snuff films go. The guy slips on a desperate attempt to gain some higher ground and falls off screen below.

Like every Internet tough guy, my first question was, of course, “Does he even lift?”

Probably not

And if he did lift, how much would it help?

Most people don’t think much about their relationship with gravity. You fall from high enough, you will break something. Too high, you die.

But gravity impacts every motion you make. When you get out of bed, or out of a chair. When you stand. When you walk or run.

f = ma

By default, there is a force keeping you down and you must beat it just to be allowed to walk. “The man” isn’t an organization or individual, it’s a basic law that governs the reality we live in.

When I was a kid me and my sister would climb on high objects (usually either my grandfather’s dispay cases or my country grandmother’s shed) and drop off them. They were often twice our height. Never broke a leg or suffered any injuries. She always seemed to be able to jump from slightly higher than I was willing to drop. I was annoyed and a little jealous at the time but my instincts weren’t off. The heavier you are, the harder you hit the ground. And I was a lot heavier than she was.

As I grew up (and got fat) my ability to move freely was proportionately restricted. At my peak weight walking 5 minutes to a nearby stone was enough to make me break into a sweat, heavy breathing, legs almost paralyzed.

I was so fat and generally unfit I could barely go out to buy the take-out that kept me fat.

I’ve lost most of that fat, and can now walk for hours (tested successfully), and the shift from feather light childhood to planetary body then back to (still big, Chad sized) body gave me a deeper look on the reality of gravity than I would have gotten otherwise.

Lifting would have certainly helped Yongning with his predicament (not as much as not getting into the predicament in the first place), but what is the sweet spot?

As you put on more muscle you become stronger, but gravity also pulls harder on you. It’s why some insects like ants can lift several hundred times their body weight and why lifting a car is considered a near superhuman feat for a man.

While I have no desire to intentionally hang over the side of a building, I’ve often imagined what I would do if I did find myself in a similar situation. Unlikely, but building collapses or other accidents that leave you hanging at uncomfortable heights happen sometimes.

Yonging had one advantage for him: he was light. I’d imagine a fit ectomorph, with enough muscle to carry his frame without being weighed down by it is best fit for acrobatic feats like this one.

Being short helps as well. Less distance needed to raise yourself, and shorter arms minimize the centrifugal force minimizing the leverage gravity has on you as you try to pull yourself over the ledge.

More importantly (and universally applicable), which exercises can you do so that you can save yourself if you are hanging above a bottomless abyss by your fingertips?

The pull-up, which holds near mythical status among the Internet Swole Patrol sounds like a good start. The problem with the pull-up, of course, is that pull-ups usually give you a solid grip on a bar. If you’re hanging over a wall, the surface area you are holding onto is considerably smaller (just half your fingers) and you cannot grip with all your strength since you risk slipping and flying off to your impending doom like the unfortunate rooftopper mentioned earlier.

There is also the issue of functional strength vs gym strength. When you workout in a gym, your strength is optimized for whatever exercise you are doing. So pulling yourself up from a bar (or a pair of bars) with plenty of knee and elbow room in front of you will not allow you to use the full strength you developed during a regular pull-up.

You could argue, then (and be right) that the best exercise you can do is to find an actual wall and practice a similar scenario from a safe height.

And if you can’t? Pull-ups aren’t a perfect replica of the scenario, but they are a solid base. Like with every other skill, it doesn’t hurt to master the basics.

Declaration of Intent

I’m not a big moviegoer but I nevertheless have a small number of movies I love and have watched repeatedly. One of them is 2004’s The Punisher, a movie based on a Marvel character created before the current superhero movie craze took over the box office.

2004’s The Punisher

The movie pulled a profit but was not a big hit, drawing disdain from professional critics but building a small cult audience that refuses to accept anyone other than Thomas Jane as the “true” Punisher.

The movie was by no means deep, relying heavily on camp and well executed violence for its charm and entertainment. I bring it up because one of the many memorable scenes in it has Frank Castle (the titular “Punisher”) write a “Declaration of Intent” meant to provide the thinnest rationalizations for why he has to butcher a small army of criminals and mercenaries for the entertainment of the viewer.

While I’m not about to engage in any skirmishes with any crime lords, the bit about Frank Castle being dead is relevant, not just to me but to any man seeking self improvement.

We all await a Final Death (I won’t get theological in this post), but the truth is most people die and are reborn several times in their life.

If you are truly on the path to become the best of what you could be you will die every night and be born again every morning.

Every day is a new opportunity. Have you been avoiding doing what you know must be done? Whether it’s dieting, lifting, improving your income, improving your relationships or fulfilling some grand vision of what you want to manifest in this world, wipe the slate clean and start over.

Has achieving a degree of success left you empty and void of meaning? They say the journey is more important than the destination, and as a man this is doubly true. I have set seemingly impossible goals for myself and if I ever reach them I will set new ones. What we can achieve is limited by who we are but there is no hard cap on how much you can grow, thus who we are cannot set concrete limits to what we can do.

The man I am today is miles above the man I was five years ago, but I cannot say that who I am today even remotely satisfies me. Like many of you I’ve avoided doing what needs to be done, and have allowed a small number of successes to act as brakes instead of stepping stones to greater things.

So I leave this, the first blog post of many, as my declaration of intent, so that noone will be confused.

  1. There is a price for everything. This is the law of equivalent exchange. If you want something, you must give something up. Hedging and arbitrage can make the transaction favorable, but it is never free. I will transmute the bulk of my time into productive action rather than pointless distractions.
  2. The old me is dead. His ghost still clings to me, but he is dead and must be buried. I have half a bottle of lemonade sitting on my desk. I will drink it in his honor, and tomorrow a new dawn and a new me will be born.
  3. In certain extreme situations, mere effort is inadequate. In order to shame the gurus peddling “just grind more bro”, it is necessary to act beyond mere work to pursue destiny. This is not fantasizing. Fantasizing is not action, it is an emotional response. No, not fantasizing. Vision.

I have several projects I’ve been neglecting, and you could argue this one is not a good use of my time. Victor Pride of Bold&Determined, who was the inspiration for this blog, rightfully pointed out an issue with the modern Internet:

I have a question for you.

Where have all the good blogs gone?

I used to find so many great blog articles all the time.

Several years ago the blog world was alive with color.

It was vibrant and alive and full of life.

Now?

There are still a few around, but…

It seems like all the good blogs have disappeared within the past few years.

Where did all the good blogs go?

I can answer that for you…

All good blog artists disappeared into social media addiction.

Nearly all of those former blog artists – the ones that used to produce great content and who have since stopped – are very active on social media.

They disappeared from the world of doing great work, and they appeared in the world of instant likes, lost in the glow of hearts and likes.

Their work suffered fatally.

Their obituaries read:

“Once upon a time he did great work, now he’s garbage.”

R.I.P.

I am by no means a blog artist, good or otherwise. But I made this blog to leave as a record for any man looking for guidance in a demonic world that seeks to break us by destroying us psychologically with both direct attacks on our sense of self and dignity as well as hedonistic traps designed to numb the pain and mollify any potential resistance.

A lot of my upcoming content will probably seem pretty derivative and boilerplate to some of you. Expect that to change as I grow, and also keep in mind that most of us have seen useful bits of information, ideas or instruction that others have not. I know everything I do because others were kind enough to repeat it even if it has been said before.

Walking the paved road and exploring the wilderness both have their time and place.