1. No More New Year’s Resolutions!
My readers know that each December I perform a solemn ritual: establishing ten resolutions (no more, no less) for the coming year. I have discussed this process elsewhere, and given advice on how to implement it yourself. In the past, I have formulated my resolutions well before the evening of December 31. This year, however, things did not go as planned.
I experienced an unexpected mental block in even approaching the process of determining my resolutions. When trying to understand my problems, usually the last thing I ever consider is that I might be suffering from some human frailty I share with ordinary mortals. And so it was with great reluctance that I pondered the possibility that my mental block might have something to do with the fact that I turned fifty in 2016.
When I turned thirty, I hit the ground running. I created a list of resolutions for this new decade of my life, which I kicked off with the words, “Make your thirties the decade in which you . . .” And, needless to say, what followed was a list of all the things about myself that I would fix or improve by the time I hit forty. Things like “learn to relax,” “learn to enjoy the now,” “become more sociable,” “overcome self-doubt,” “learn to read music,” and “improve my German.”
When I hit forty, I resolved to make it the decade in which I improved everything about myself that I had failed to improve in my thirties. What sorts of things? Well, things like “learn to relax,” “learn to enjoy the now,” “become more sociable,” “overcome self-doubt,” “learn to read music,” and “improve my German.”
This whole process was a clever way of turning aging into an opportunity: each new decade of my life would be an opportunity for finally straightening myself out. And, indeed, despite the above admission, I did make progress in a number of areas. And I left a lot of people far behind – quite a few of my contemporaries, who seemed stuck in time and incapable of growth. Quite justifiably, I saw my quest for self-improvement as a mark of superiority. And I had gone about it with great gusto. I relished the hours spent creating documents with detailed plans for improving different areas of my life. I had separate plans for Writing Projects, Reading, Physical Fitness, Diet, Supplements, Habits, Housekeeping, and so on.
On turning fifty, however, I was surprised to find that my enthusiasm for such things had waned considerably. And I found this genuinely disturbing. The thought of heading a document with the words “Make your fifties the decade in which you . . .” seemed somehow ridiculous. I began to reflect on all the ways in which I had failed to improve myself. I looked back at old journal entries from years earlier and discovered that I had had the same “realizations” about my life, and how I needed to change it, over and over and over again. And each time seemed like the first; I apparently had no recollection of having thought these things before.
At fifty, I have begun to react to a lot of old interests and preoccupations with the words “what’s the point now?” I have also started doing a good bit of math. In ten years I’ll be sixty. Sixty. Will I keep trying to fix myself in my sixties? Or will I get everything fixed by then? And if I could do that (and I know I can’t), why?
2. Paring Away the Nonsense, or: The Mission is All
So where do I go from here? And where do you go? Because the lessons I have to convey apply to all of my readers. They apply especially to those who have arrived at a similar point in life, but equally to those much younger (or, heaven help us, older). The simple truth is that time is running out. I have, maybe, twenty-five or thirty good years left in me. Twenty-five years ago was 1992. That seems like yesterday. But, of course, all of this is assuming that some accident or deadly disease won’t claim me sooner. Here lies the lesson for younger readers: we are all at fifty. Time is running out for all of us. We are all facing death. And that means that we must take action now.
What sort of action? The first, most obvious thing that comes to mind is simply to pare away the nonsense. To do that, however, one must first have a very clear idea of what is important in life and what isn’t. It helps to have a mission. Mine is saving our race and our culture. If I have only twenty-five years left – hell, if I only have twenty-five hours left – I can think of nothing better to which to devote myself than this sacred cause.
The nonsense, then, is whatever distracts my attention from my mission. And fortunately I am in a position to pare it away. My job provides me with more leisure time than most people, but in the last two years it has increasingly demanded more attention from me, and become a source of great tension and dissatisfaction. Thus, my first resolution of 2017, and the first item on my “post-fifty action plan,” is to quit my job and go to work for the Movement full time. I expect to be able to do this by the summer. This was a difficult decision. I have money squirreled away and ways of making more of it, but there is still some considerable risk involved. However, one thing I must confront on turning fifty is that it is too late not to take risks.
In fact, I am not a stranger to risk: I chose a line of work in which jobs are very difficult to find, and spent several years looking for one on finishing my education. Five years of refusing to think “What if I never . . .” and just soldiering on, with a fatalistic attitude, almost celebrating my precarious situation by taking still other, completely unnecessary risks. I had a “tomorrow I will die” attitude and it is time to recover this. But years of job security, a generous salary, and the accumulation of “things” have made me soft.
I must pare away my “things” (remember, the things you own end up owning you, and many of my comforts. I must lead a more ascetic lifestyle. When I began to think more about the nature of this lifestyle I must cultivate, I realized that it was not that of a monk, but of a warrior. (Or, perhaps, a warrior-monk.) I must devote the rest of my life, wholly and completely, to a war against evil. A war for everything I believe in and hold dear. But simultaneously, I know that I will be waging another war, one that I have actually been waging for a long time: a war against myself. This is what my years of “self-improvement” have been all about. One thing I have learned about myself in those years is that certain things about me are not going to change. But this includes my desire to improve myself. I cannot simply shut that off, nor should I, and for two reasons. First, it is an intrinsically noble quest, and it is something that can be channeled, to a great extent, in order to serve my mission. But how to separate sense from nonsense?
3. Training the Body and Mind
Elsewhere I have written of my use of a “pyramid model” in sorting out my life:
Today, for men and women like us, a good life must be a life in which we do something to advance the Cause. The ideal here, in fact, is for all life to be arranged in a pyramid fashion – with everything converging toward the highest value, and highest imperative . . . Yes, we can enjoy ourselves and cultivate ourselves, but we do this so that we may be strengthened in our resolution. (All revolutionaries, after all, need R&R.) And all that which constitutes a negative distraction from our mission must either be eliminated, or – if this is impossible – we must detach from it as much as we can, physically or psychologically. Focusing on the Cause is a great way to rid yourself of the bullshit that’s bothering you. But that’s not why you focus on the Cause. You focus on the Cause because for folks like us, who are awake, it is that than which no greater can be conceived.
Many of the goals I set for myself in the past must be dropped, such as “learn to read music” or “improve my German.” There is simply no time for this nonsense. But others are worthy pursuits, so long as they are conceived as part of the pyramid, converging towards the highest value, My Mission.
For example, I have lifted weights for many years and pursued other forms of physical training (running, calisthenics, yoga, and, more recently, jiu jitsu). Much of this was out of a desire to challenge myself. I felt a desire to improve on what nature had given me – to push myself to realize my potential. But it also had to do with vanity. I remember some years ago reading some sage advice from a personal trainer on how to set fitness goals in middle age: “Start to focus less on how your body looks, and more on what it can do,” he said, or words to that effect.
Training the body properly involves training the mind and the spirit, all of which makes me a more effective warrior for my cause. And, who knows, if things get really bad, the strength and endurance I have cultivated may come in handy. But it is also legitimate to see physical training as an end in itself, and a worthy pursuit in the years I have left to me. One of the glories of humanity, and especially our race, is the quest to realize our physical potential, and through this to test our spirit. This is the sort of thing I am fighting for, when I say that I am fighting for our race and our culture. I feel an obligation to pursue the ideal. And if I cannot exemplify it, I can still come as close as I possibly can. I refuse to surrender to old age as my parents did, and “let myself go.”
My “war against myself” in this context means war to push myself to do more and to become more than I think myself capable of. It is easy to see how this is not just a physical struggle (to move, say, more pounds over my head than I did the previous week), but a spiritual struggle as well. Indeed, in the case of physical training, these are inseparable.
But I do not just push myself to do more, and move beyond my perceived limits, in the gym alone. My war against myself involves much more than this. It involves pushing myself to move beyond perceived limits of all kinds. I have limited myself in the past through fixed ideas about what I was and was not capable of. (For instance, “I can’t quit my job. I could wind up starving on the street!” That’s the voice of my parents, incidentally.)
My war against myself also involves a war against my mind, which is a greater and more insidious enemy than the Left. At the benevolent end of things is my tendency to distract myself with daydreams. But that’s nothing compared to my tendencies to doubt myself, to manufacture worries based upon nothing, to catastrophize, to rehearse imaginary arguments with associates, to dwell in the past, to forget all compliments and to remember only criticisms, to take all criticism far too seriously, to fall into dull routine, and to waffle between feelings of grandiose superiority and abject inferiority (as Jim Goad said somewhere, “I feel simultaneously superior and inferior to everyone I’ve ever met”). I have had to fight all of these things, and I’ll wager that at least something in this paragraph has stuck a chord with each of my readers.
One of the lessons I have learned in my years of countless resolutions and plans is that none of the nonsense mentioned just now can be changed through sheer willpower. And this is perhaps the most useful thing I have to impart in this essay. I have finally realized the truth of what Gurdjieff said to Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous: we can do nothing. This used to bother me quite a lot, because at one time I had complete faith in my power to change anything by pure willpower. But I secretly realized the futility of this every time I made a new set of yearly resolutions and wrote things like, “Stop doubting yourself!” Exactly how do I do that? For such resolutions I never had a “plan.” I had declared an unwinnable war on these sorts of mental habits – really, character traits. Whether due to environment or heredity (I strongly suspect the latter), such things are very deeply ingrained.
Some of it does get better, with time and experience and maturation, but some of it also gets worse. I have found that the only way to weaken these traits is to watch them. Over the years, as my self-knowledge has increased, I have come to know my mental and emotional habits and “complexes.” This knowledge itself creates a distance between “me” and what it is that I am knowing. Thus, when my tendency to catastrophize rears its ugly head, I do not try to force it out of my mind (this actually backfires). Instead, I simply “see it,” with an attitude that says, in effect, “Ah, there it is again.” It helps, as much as possible, to begin to think of these negative traits as if they were as “objective” as the weather. In other words, not me but rather something that regularly presents itself to me. And, indeed, they are not me: “me” is what is capable of seeing these traits. As someone connected with the Gurdjieff movement once said, “If I can see it, I don’t have to be it.” The suffering that is caused by our negative personality traits is entirely due to the fact that we identify with them; we think “this is me,” and become wholly absorbed in these traits, without any distance.
This practice of simply watching our thoughts and emotions is not easy, however. On occasions when our negative thought patterns are causing us great distress, it is extremely difficult. Yet even then it is possible, and such watching is, in fact, the only sure way to the cessation of the suffering we are experiencing. The formula is this: see the emotion or thought pattern, then shift your attention to the here and now and concrete (not the mental), such as your breathing, the feeling of your hands on the arm of the chair, and so on. Then repeat, because you will have to. You will continually be drawn in to identifying with your negative thoughts. You simply need to see that you are doing this, and, without reproaching yourself, again shift your attention to the here and now.
This practice is my form of warfare against my (mental) self. It takes strength, and courage. Actually seeing what we are and what our minds are doing can be painful. Most people will do anything to avoid it, thus they surrender to lives of being controlled by patterns and impulses they have not chosen. What I have described is simply a practice of the Delphic maxim, “Know thyself.” And, fundamentally, it is a path to freedom. Like my practice of physical training, it serves my mission. This is a practice of self-mastery, which makes me more effective in accomplishing my work. But self-mastery is also an end in itself.
4. The Warrior’s Way
Indeed, it could be said that I have adopted two ultimate goals, or ultimate missions. One is the goal of saving my race and culture. The other is the goal of self-perfection or self-mastery. But it is hard to disentangle the two. Isn’t it precisely the striving for self-perfection and self-mastery that constitutes the greatness of our race? Isn’t it this that has pushed us to explore the entire world and to conquer most of it? Isn’t it this that pushes us to climb mountains, and to set records? To investigate everything in heaven and on earth? To learn the secrets of mastering nature? To improve upon the nature we find around us, and in our own bodies?
And isn’t it our race that exemplifies, before all others, the potentiality for self-knowledge I have described? The practice discussed above is fundamentally one of creating space between a watching “I” and the drives, emotions, and thought patterns that normally master us. But in most of the peoples of the world, no such space exists, or can be created. They are wholly identified with those drives, emotions, and patterns; wholly mastered by this “otherness,” not by themselves. (It will be argued that what I have described also has a great deal in common with Zen – and yet Zen techniques of mindfulness and self-observation originated among the ancient Aryans, and made their way to China, and then on to Japan.)
So, to come back to where I started, my resolution for the remainder of my life is to follow the way of the warrior – at war with the forces of darkness in the world, and in myself: seeking self-mastery, and seeking to make the world safe for those capable of self-mastery. Striving for an ideal I will never fully reach, and striving to secure the future of others who strive for the ideal, and may get closer to it than me.
In practical terms, I will abandon the job that has for so many years sapped my time and energy. I will take the risk, and boldly face my fear of the unknown. I will devote the rest of my life to working to save the white race, and Western civilization. I will simultaneously continue to train my body and my mind, seeking to reach my full potential of health, strength, and self-mastery. I will learn as much as possible, and cultivate my tastes. I will not cease to grow. I will pare away everything else that is superfluous and a distraction. I will cultivate simplicity and grace. I will no longer preoccupy myself with regrets about the past, and I will create no new regrets in the future.
As I alluded to earlier, my message has as much relevance to those who have just turned twenty as it does to other fifty-year-olds. We must all face up to the fact that death can take us at any time. And we must do it now. In adopting the philosophy I’ve called “the warrior’s way,” I’ve been influenced by quite a few sources, but one very accessible source is a book called Living the Martial Way by Forrest Morgan, a martial artist and retired Air Force officer who now works for the RAND Corporation. Early in the book, Morgan quotes Carlos Castaneda: “To seek perfection of the warrior’s spirit is the only task worthy of your manhood.” And then he advises his readers, “Start today by thinking of yourself as a warrior.” However, the passage that possibly made the greatest impression on me is the following:
Personal power is quite simply the force that results from freeing yourself from the fear of failure, no matter what the consequences. . . . Achieving personal power means finding the courage to drive ahead no matter what your opponent threatens. Whether the challenge be conflict with an employer, a legal confrontation, or personal combat, when you divorce yourself from any fear of consequences, your adversary no longer has any power over you. Man’s greatest fear is death. But think of the power you have when you throw off any fear of dying. How threatening would the loss of a girlfriend, a job, or even financial ruin seem today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? If you can kick that fear, then all the other calamities in life become trivial. So the first step to achieving personal power is to always assume you are going to die tomorrow. Face it . . . embrace it . . . savor it! Now go out and do today what you most need to achieve before you leave this world. (Italics added.)
And yet, when I shared these ideas with a mentor of mine he corrected me: “No,” he said, “Assume you are going to die today.” True. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME. You must change your life.