“We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms… And the impervious shelter, beneath which it has prospered.”

Comfort makes you weak

by | Dec 23, 2020 | The Agoge | 6 comments

The next few days will present us with an interesting contrast. On the one hand, Christmas is only a few days away, and that is traditionally the happiest and most joyous occasion of the year. The end of perhaps the most miserable and uncomfortable year in living memory will arrive shortly thereafter. On the other hand, the coming year promises to be even worse in many respects than what we just endured.

The future is hugely uncertain. Governments around the world have shown that they can, and absolutely will, destroy economies, businesses, and lives at a moment’s whim. And they will do so in the name of “stopping” a disease that the best estimates tell us has a higher than 99% survival rate if you are under the age of 60 and have no real medical problems. Already the government in PommieBastardLande, led by the completely feckless and incompetent Boris the Floppy-Haired Labradoodle, has completely upended the lives of the entire population. Promises broken. Families torn apart. Entire swathes of the economy laid waste. And all in the name of a disease that appears to be only slightly worse than a really bad seasonal flu – and behaves rather the same way.

Brought Low by Love of Comfort

In such situations it is quite tempting to imagine that these times are unprecedented and extraordinary. This is incorrect and foolish short-term thinking. The reality is that we have spent decades in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity. And that era was built on illusions. And we are now paying the price for our folly.

Do not mistake my words. I do NOT for one single moment claim that the suffering and death caused by the Kung Flu is in any way justified by past actions. It absolutely is not. This is a horrible disease that leaves lasting damage on many of the people it infects. Tens of thousands of people around the world are struggling with aftereffects that will last for quite probably the rest of their lives.

Here I specifically mean that for the past 30 years we have fooled ourselves into believing that the march of progress is ever upwards. We deceived ourselves into thinking that life will get easier over time. And we did not learn the lessons from history that are so neatly summed up in the graphic above. That is one of my absolute favourite memes, simply because of the unshakeable truth at its core.

This love of comfort has made fools of men – yourself, and myself, included. We have become far too attached to material things. In the process, we have often lost sight of the things that truly matter. Faith, freedom, and family are all considered secondary aspects of our lives far more often than many of us would care to admit.

If 2020 has taught us one truly harsh and necessary lesson, it is this:

Do not get too comfortable. Everything that you have can AND ABSOLUTELY WILL be taken from you before you have time to catch your breath.

What is “Too Much Comfort”?

Here we must make a careful and clear distinction. Before I explain why comfort makes you weak, we must first understand what comfort actually is.

Comfort, as a noun, has a number of possible meanings. Here are two.

The first meaning is material in nature. It involves seeking out things that ease the ardours of life and relax the body and mind. But the second is entirely spiritual. That is the kind of comfort that comes only from hope, faith, and love.

The first kind is good, in reasonable amounts. Most all of us, however, are guilty of seeking TOO MUCH of it. You MUST learn to avoid addiction to comfort. If you do not learn this, it will be your undoing.

We should seek out things which give our souls and spirits relief. The world is a very harsh, destructive, terrible, and twisted place. It will destroy you if you let it. Fighting against its corruption is hard and tiring. Take rest where you can from what you can.

But do not grow complacent and do not make the pursuit of physical and mental comfort your sole objective in life – or you will end up like I did. I’m living proof that love of comfort destroys a man’s ability to adapt and grow.

Heed the Warning Signs

As I usually do in these articles, I will try to teach you lessons from my own life, so that you can avoid repeating my mistakes.

Most of you already know how I lost my job in the USA and had to leave. If you’ve kept up with my work, you will know that the subsequent 2.5 years have been filled with a lot of pain, suffering, regret, and misery.

With hindsight, I can see the reason why I lost my job: I got complacent. I was in a role that I enjoyed, working in a part of the organisation where I felt at home. And I was a respected, sought-after expert in my field. I was able to set my own hours – which were quite long anyway, since I worked harder than anyone else in my group.

The warning signs were there for months. My team’s management changed and a colleague of mine stepped in to take over. I’d gotten along with him very well for years as a colleague. But once he became my actual manager, I realised very quickly that he and I were not going to get along due to our diametrically opposed personalities.

I had opportunities to escape, and I didn’t take them because I was happy where I was. My life was comfortable and my sense of loyalty to my peer group overwhelmed my desire to leave – because things didn’t feel quite so urgent.

I paid a severe price for my lack of foresight. Understand this: when you get too comfy where you are – look out, because that is life will come along to knock you out colder than a wet mackerel.

Comfort Makes You Slow and Stupid

I’ll give you a more recent example as well. In the coming days, I will soon leave the old country to start up a course of studies in PommieBastardLande. Yes, the very country that I roundly mock and deride, is exactly where I’m going myself. Feel free to call me a hypocrite and a fool in the comments below.

More seriously, I’m leaving for a very simple reason: I have no choice. If I want to rebuild my life, I have to make some changes. I have clear goals in life: to be baptised, to marry my lady, to father children with her, and to secure non-shitty citizenship. None of that will happen unless I move my ass.

I started this process months ago, beginning with my application for a student visa. I got that and then began the induction process for my course. But as time wore on, I couldn’t muster the courage and desire to book my flights and accommodations for my transition out to the UK.

Why? What was so difficult about making a flight and hotel booking? How could someone who takes cold showers and deadlifts 200Kg for fun, have a tough time making some simple bookings?

On reflection, I realised it was because I became too comfortable, yet again.

Complacency is Your Enemy

Life here has been good overall. I realised long ago that I don’t really need much to be happy. As long as I have food on the table, a gym nearby, books to read, an internet connection to allow me to write and learn, and a decent room in which to sleep, I’m happy as a clam.

On top of that, my relationship with my family had improved significantly after a serious rocky patch earlier this year. And the weather in the old country is actually borderline pleasant from mid-October to mid-February. That’s the only time in the year when life is actually bearable and you can enjoy walking on the roads.

So life was, and is, good. And the thought of tearing myself away from it, to face real uncertainty about the future in a totally new city, was terrifying.

It shouldn’t have been. I’ve proven repeatedly over the past few years that I can move and adapt rapidly when I have to. But I had become too comfortable, yet again.

I needed to make a change. So one day I simply told myself, “enough!” – and made my bookings.

This was hard – emotionally wrenching, in fact. But the die was cast, the decision made. And as a result, my burdens lightened. I ceased to worry, for I have committed to a course of action.

Now the only way is forward.

How to Overcome Your Love of Comfort

Here are a few things that you can do right now to figure out whether you are addicted to comfort or not:

1. Take Stock

Look around you. Ask yourself honestly: could you be without all of your stuff for years on end, if necessary?

I can. I have. For two years I have lived for months at a time essentially out of a single suitcase and a backpack. All of my real stuff is sitting in a storage locker in the USA. As long as I have my wallet, passport, some clothes, a knife, my laptop, my phone, and a few peripherals like headphones and a mouse, I’m mostly good. I am a good cook and a halfway decent housekeeper. Being alone doesn’t frighten me.

But that doesn’t mean I have zero attachment to things. I NEED to be around a gym, as a matter of mental as well as physical health. These are my weak points that can be exploited easily – and have been.

Many of us in the ‘Sphere advocate for minimalism. Both my friend Dawn Pine and I agree on this subject. You must not allow yourself to pursue material things to make yourself happy. That is a sure path to damnation.

2. Do Uncomfortable Things

Start incorporating uncomfortable habits into your daily routine. I’ve said for years that you should take cold showers every day. And I mean every day – including, and especially in winter. Once you start doing things that make you a bit uncomfortable every day, you will quickly realise just how much your love of comfort makes you weak.

3. Clear and Focus Your Mind

The Didactic Agoge contains a treasure trove of advice about how to focus and discipline yourself. A daily prayer rule is exceptionally useful in this regard. Take five minutes a day to pray and meditate. Focus on God’s will for you – NOT the other way around. Understand that you are here to achieve a specific task or goal. Your challenge is to divine this. I will soon write up a post to help you do precisely that.

4. Seek Out New Challenges

Learn a new language. Try a new workout plan. Take up a new hobby. Work up the courage to ask out that pretty girl over at the next table. Plan a trip to a new country. You are limited only by your fears. So start conquering them.

I’m not giving you idle advice here. I did ALL of those things that I just suggested – in the span of a few months.

When I lost my job in 2018, I happened to have a Russian multiple-entry business visa. (Long story.) In early May 2018, I realised that I would have to leave the USA. To say that I was miserable is a colossal understatement. I needed to take my mind off the immense pain and gigantic sense of loss. So I booked myself on a one-week trip to Russia, which I had already visited back in October 2017.

That trip, in early June, changed my life in ways that I’m still struggling to appreciate. I spent the next 2.5 years travelling around the world and spent a lot of time in Russia. Was that a waste of time? You could argue that it was. But the fact is that I needed to heal, and that took me a very, very long time. The pain still isn’t gone – the scars will never really fade. But after all of those experiences, some of them extremely negative, I know that I am far more prepared for new challenges.

Conclusion – Do Not Let Love of Comfort Make You Weak

The Spartans were (in)famous for their brutal training regimen. They made their induction process as hard as possible ON PURPOSE. This was not sadism. Sadistic training regimes don’t accomplish anything other than satisfying the cruel impulses of the fool that created them. The Spartan method was too calculated, too refined, and certainly far too effective. It was, in fact, deliberately designed to create the finest soldiers in the known world.

But it achieved rather more than this. It also created a class of citizens who appreciated what they had – and would defend it with their very lives.

THAT is the fundamental truth that we have lost in our pursuit for comfort. Our material things mean NOTHING. Our legacies matter far more. And above that, our duty to each other and to God Almighty matter the most.

So, if you need to heal a weary and broken body, then take it where and when you can. Do not be unduly worried about tomorrow. Today is trouble enough on its own. Do your duty to the best of your abilities every day. Work as hard as you can. Strive to do good for your loved ones.

If you seek comfort for an aching and weary spirit, your Creator will give it to you – all you need to do is ask.

Be grateful for what material comforts you have. If you see fit to add to them, then do so – but do not make the pursuit of comfort your sole aim in life. Otherwise, you will one day find yourself without comfort of any kind – and if you ignore my advice above, then on that day, you will have no idea what to do.

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6 Comments

  1. weka

    This is the crisis. This is the turning.

    The engine of our societal repentance will be disgust. But that means that the lies will need to be stripped away.

    Have a joyous Christmas, then harden up.

    Reply
  2. Post Alley Crackpot

    2018 redux: “The modern corporate ladder is designed specifically to stop the competent and independent-minded from advancing …”

    The world runs on well-greased mediocrity, but once you understand that, it’s possible to perform a type of situational arbitrage.

    There are plenty of books on how to reorientate yourself toward “the way of the rat” or to say “hello to laziness”, and they’re worth considering as an alternative to high engagement.

    Inevitably mediocrity punishes high engagement and high standards, so don’t bother with those when engaging with mediocre standards.

    Anything that requires excellence should be an endeavour you first do for yourself and then for others.

    Once you understand how to arbitrage your situation so you’re less engaged with it, you build more mental and temporal space for your true ambitions and goals.

    And so back to your 2018 statement: the modern corporate structure applies mass numbers of mediocre individuals in order to simulate the excellence of one or a few people.

    That’s because such structures are only able to capitalise on the labour of people who provide it within well-defined commodity boundaries. Anyone else outside of those is either wholly unemployable because they fall below those thresholds or is over-skilled because of rising well above them, and neither fall within the predictable rates of return demanded for commodity labour.

    Inevitably the best solution is to ignore the call to adapt to the corporate environment and to heed the call to be a more capable army of one.

    I don’t know what you’re studying, but why I suggested Norway and NTNU was that it wouldn’t be comfortable and that it would be very different. You’d need about 20k EUR per year to support the high cost of living in Norway, but the education itself would be provided without additional costs.

    While you’re there, you could figure out how to Be More Rat and work out new ventures independently from what everyone else wants to do.

    Imagine what you’d like to do as being Linus Torvalds seeking a new kind of Linux to build, first for himself, bringing others into the fold later, instead of imagining how you fit some team who could never build Linux even with twenty thousand coder monkeys throwing Shakespearean-styled code efforts at it.

    Imagine building something so cool that it actually pisses you off that mediocre people want to fuck it up.

    Then start from there.

    Reply
    • Didact

      That’s because such structures are only able to capitalise on the labour of people who provide it within well-defined commodity boundaries. Anyone else outside of those is either wholly unemployable because they fall below those thresholds or is over-skilled because of rising well above them, and neither fall within the predictable rates of return demanded for commodity labour.

      The best management advice that I’ve ever seen came from a John Ringo book:
      “The secret to this place is to find the one or two people who are not complete incompetents – and work them to death.”

      That’s been my whole professional career. And, honestly, I’m quite done with indulging that sort of silliness.

      I don’t know what you’re studying, but why I suggested Norway and NTNU was that it wouldn’t be comfortable and that it would be very different. You’d need about 20k EUR per year to support the high cost of living in Norway, but the education itself would be provided without additional costs.

      While you’re there, you could figure out how to Be More Rat and work out new ventures independently from what everyone else wants to do.

      Took me a while to cotton on to what you meant. I had to go lookup that comment – it was from back in February. I do remember giving it some thought at the time.

      There are two major reasons why I didn’t take that advice. The first is that I painted myself into a specialist corner in my previous jobs. This was a huge mistake. I needed a near-complete reset, which is why I’m pursuing a business degree. (Yeah, I know – y’all are free to mock me here in the comments.) The second is that I need to get rid of this shitty passport that I’m stuck with right now. Getting Norwegian citizenship is MUCH harder than British or Western European citizenship – takes longer and requires a lot more effort.

      I really can’t emphasise the importance of that second point enough. Most Westerners have no idea how much harder life is with a completely garbage passport – especially in the current time, when countries and companies around the world are really tightening up with respect to work permits and visa sponsorships.

      Reply
  3. Post Alley Crackpot

    “I needed a near-complete reset, which is why I’m pursuing a business degree.”

    Somehow I thought you already had one of those in addition to finance.

    It would help especially with understanding the dynamics of something I’ve come to call “the pop-up company”: you start it on an idea that sells well for a while but is predictably doomed because of long-term market cap and loss of novelty, and so you get in, get the cash, and get out.

    People tend to run their companies like “forever relationships” even when they’re clearly not.

    I used to love the pop-up restaurant concept in London especially because of the feel that this was particularly suited toward the time (2015, for instance) yet completely doomed in the future (2020, as was the case with my favourite Chicago-style barbecue stop at Westfield London).

    Can we create companies where all of the stakeholders and creators that matter can cash out well?

    That’s worth figuring out and understanding, there’d be brisk sales in books that describe how to make that work, if you’re looking for a “side hustle” during your education, of course.

    “Getting Norwegian citizenship is MUCH harder than British or Western European citizenship – takes longer and requires a lot more effort.”

    True enough, but my feel of the culture is that there’s less Jante Law than Sweden, and so they’re not resentful when you come in and create a new business.

    Whereas I get some of that even in America, the whole “you didn’t build that” thing when quite clearly I did in fact build that. Americans get pissy about this because you didn’t really need them for more than access to markets and labour, and so when you say you want to pull up roots because there’s no “magic dirt”?

    But with Norway, there are angles, such as angles connecting to global businesses like oil exploration and energy firms. The right kind of “pop-up company” would fast track you to the arrangements you want.

    That’s why I said it’d be very uncomfortable: in reality, you would have three jobs, the first being the student arrangements, the second being any kind of work you’d qualify for to maintain the arrangements, and the third being whatever companies you start.

    Of course, this may also be true of the UK, although you’d likely have more effort to allocate toward maintaining the student arrangements.

    “Most Westerners have no idea how much harder life is with a completely garbage passport – especially in the current time, when countries and companies around the world are really tightening up with respect to work permits and visa sponsorships.”

    One of the things to realise when watching the moves of such people as Simon Black and Andrew Henderson is that there are good passports for being in the investor class and good passports for people who still intend to work for employers.

    My general drift has been that working for employers over the long haul makes you poorer, and that the best thing to do is to focus on your “side hustles” so that they eventually take over the load from an employment arrangement.

    But as for your over-specialisation contention, I have a counter-point.

    Every job that pays a decent amount is essentially some kind of specialist arrangement.

    Also, I come from a semi-rural, semi-urban English aristocracy that looks upon working for others in non-peer relationships as somewhat disgusting, and so there’s a lot of pressure on making new ventures and having work done between companies instead of trying to fit some employer’s mould of an ideal worker.

    British corporate residency is generally a good deal, and until Trump’s changes to the tax laws, the UK was much more competitive for limited companies than the US. The UK is still more competitive, of course, because of high state-level taxes, and with the plan to lower below 20%, it’s staying more competitive.

    VAT recapture is also a concept that the US could clearly learn from.

    Reply
  4. Robert W

    It’s remarkable reading about men(!) in the bible rejecting comfort and thriving:

    Moses goes from the prince of Egypt to the shepherd of Midian and didn’t miss a beat.

    He dwelled in physical comfort in Egypt but was not a comfortable man.

    In the liberation and exile, the rabble complained about missing the cucumbers and melons of Egypt. Not Moses. This man knew what was good in life and focused on his God, not his FOMO.

    The same for John the Baptist. The man is filled with Holy Spirit and lives in the wilderness with horrible fashion and culinary preferences. Maybe not the model for all men, but there’s a lesson here: When you fear God, not man, God moves through the man.

    The Christ goes straight from his baptism by John into wilderness combat for 40 days while fasting…this man did not follow the path of comfort. He certainly moved men.

    Merry Christmas Didact, this is a good essay.

    Reply
    • Didact

      Thank you, brother, and merry Christmas to you as well. May the peace and blessings of Jesus Christ our King be with you and your family on this day.

      Reply

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