To be strong and to endure when the time comes, you must train your body. Like steel, you must temper it and remove the impurities.
To perceive the environment and to act accordingly, you must train your mind. Grow in intelligence and knowledge. Grow through experience.
To be able to move forward when those around you are paralyzed with fear, you must train your heart. Your soul. Become accustomed doing uncomfortable things.
Discipline. Wisdom. Courage. Training in these virtues is a selfish pursuit. It is purely to make you better. It is to prepare you for the hard times. To be the hero when the world (or your family or community) is in need of one.
When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. –Joseph Campbell
The transformation may begin selfish, but it becomes charity. It becomes love. Acting for those who need a helping hand. Acting for those who are unable to act for themselves. You can be untrained and still step up in the dark moment, but will you be as effective?
We plant in the spring, grow in the summer, and gather in the fall. Why? To prepare for the harshness of the winter. In the same manner we should plant the seeds of virtue and cultivate them when the times are easy. For we will need them when the dark days arrive. The world will need its heroes. Be ready when the call comes.
The hero prepares, not selfishly, but to give.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13
My friend started in the restaurant industry as a means to support himself through college. First a server, then a bartender. A few more years and then an assistant manager. The cost to get a doctorate in Psychology was too much. My friend stayed in the restaurant industry and is now a general manager for one of the busiest stores in his corporation. He planned on being a psychologist. Last week he said, “I never planned on being in the service industry over the last twenty years.” These days, I think he has resigned himself to be working in it until he retires. It is a lot of stress and hours, but there could be worse alternatives. And we never know what the next chapter in our life entails. What he is doing now could be preparing him for a future he never planned.
Maybe I was fortunate or just plain stupid. Growing up, I never really had a plan. I skipped around in college changing degree programs based on whatever whim I had at the time. There was no difference in my professional life either. I was a soldier, retail manager, manufacturing associate with a sprinkling of a few others in between. I plan to keep on writing. As a profession? I’m not sure. Maybe someday, but right now I’ll continue working my 40 hours and write in my spare time. I am not much different than my friend. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring or what is around the corner.
I am an ambitious person, and I do have plans. Will they come to fruition? I don’t know, but I am going to do the work and see what happens. I’m going to keep walking the path that I think is the right way to go, but I am also going to be flexible. My current stage in life might only be a stepping stone to a future I never imagined. If I get too caught up in my own plans, I might not see the better life that is in store for me.
As for my friend, I hope he does the same. This isn’t what you dreamed of all those years ago, but it is only one stage of your life. Cherish the experiences. Learn from them. See the opportunities as they come and make the most of them. They may take you away from what you planned and direct you toward the life waiting for you.
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell