Mastery of the everyday but under appreciated kind

Recently I have read some men crowing on the interwebz. One guy saying he is all that is man because he does Karate point fighting, another about using 70 pounds dumbbells for shoulder presses, anther about a 345 pound bench press and having banged 6 20 somethings…. Weak sauce. Karate point fighting is bad ass if you’re a 9 year old crippled girl; banging 6 20 something girls in a 4 day weekend is fairly impressive, 6 over a life time much less so; 70 pound dumbbells are bad ass if you are a 140 pound man and a 345 pound bench press rocks if your that same 140 pound dude. Thing is, on all those fronts, many men are better at it then you

While that was going on the “flu” ripped its way through our camp, and I doubt even half of us were technically fit for duty. We sent out men who were shitting and puking on themselves, other men fixed plumbing issues, kept the heat on, flew helicopters and kept them flying all while shitting and puking themselves. Life had to go on and it did. Not just the sexy shit that (kind of sort of) makes a decent movie but the everyday stuff of keeping a small town alive and well in the middle of hostile injun territory. Trucks , forklifts and generators had to be maintained. Resources like chow and water came in; waste water had to be moved out. Medics took care of sick men in-between their own trips to the shitter. While the flu is kicking our ass, the weather is changing and not for the better. Every day the snow on the mountains gets closer to us; it’s rainy or raining everyday and it is getting colder every day. Real miserable stuff to deal with, but nowhere near as bad as it will get, yet sick men are working in it every day to keep life going here at the tail end of america’s foreign policy stupidity chain.

This is not weak sauce. This is mastery, mastery of self; mastery of technical/ trade skills and mastery over nature


20 thoughts on “Mastery of the everyday but under appreciated kind

  1. Sumo

    Mastery is a good term for it, but I prefer to call it “life”. No matter what comes your way, you can roll up into a ball and blubber, or you can stand up and deal with it.

    I got a good laugh out of the point karate story. I had an instructor who was constantly pissed at me because I declined to enter most of the silly tournament he insisted that we go to. I was working the door at a fairly popular/kind of rough nightclub at the time, and I didn’t see the point of playing tag when I was getting into full on brawls on nearly a nightly basis.

    Of course, the fact that the tournies all started at 8 in the morning had a lot to do with that, when I wasn’t finishing work until 3 am or so. On the rare occasion that I did attend, I usually ended up getting disqualified for, um….being too enthusiastic, if you follow me.

      1. Sumo

        Damn, brother…what the hell do you have to do to get DQ’d from MMA..?

        #1 striking after the ref called the fight. I figure if the other guy is still moving he wants to be punched in the face so I shin kicked him in the face while he was trying to get up. The called the fight, pulled my win and DQ’ed me. Best kick of my life, broke his noggin and depolarized his brain. He was in a coma for a bit

        #2 didn’t understand/ wasn’t tracking some rule changes. I got a guy in the side mount then began to elbow and knee him in the head. Ref DQ’ed me.

        not sure either would have occurred with a better level of officiating

  2. Cill

    Another way of putting it is, There is no option. You can’t say “It’s getting too tough, I’ll go home and have a beer and try again another day.” Like when my mother was injured in a climbing accident and I had to carry her down a cliff hanging on by the tips of my fingers and toes. It took 5 hours. In a situation like that, if you quit even for a split second, you die.

    For me, lifting weights would be a waste of valuable energy. Blokes who build big muscles in the gym find they’re weak beside a skinny bloke from the boonies when it comes to real work. For the real hard yakka, the muscles on the trunk and the back, that twist and flex and straighten the trunk and the back, are way more important than big arms and thighs.

    Another good post here, Ton. I’m glad I found this blog.

    1. sfcton Post author

      Thanks Cill

      Yep no choice.Stateside I would not have gone to work this sick. No need, no call and Stateside there are options. Here the option was to roll out and ignore the shit and puke smell in the truck

      Most guys in the gym are doing bodybuilding which literally expands the goo in muscles so they get puffy. That’s a far cry from strength training. Sports Nerds can actually see a muscle cell and tell you what kind of athlete it came from. The human body is amazingly adaptable

  3. BuenaVista

    My outlook is that anything worth doing involves existential risk. Sure, it could be physical existential risk: mountains, warfare, aircraft, etc. But it can also be psychological: “I will have no purpose, no meaning, if I fail at this book.” I’ll take needle-ball-and-airspeed over trying to write a good book, any day of the week. (Actually, … never mind. That would be an anecdote.) It can be emotional, and several of us have been there: “If my devotions are as unimportant as this petition for divorce says they are, fuck this life and all of its pretensions.”

    So in general, guys who bitch about the weather or having the flu or their truck needs new tie rods or Thanksgiving with Psychopathic Mommie? I am not interested. It’s like being around “men” who go camping in January, and then bitch that their toes are cold. They should be home eating bon-bons.

    Anything worth doing, on this earthly shade, where life is so fleeting as to be dizzying, involves existential risk. So either zone out in front of the tv, and anesthetize, or shut the fuck up and attempt your attempt. This is an easier attitude to adopt, of course, once one realizes that death is a reward, with many advantages!, and not a punishment. A guy has to live a bit to embrace that outlook.

    1. Liz

      Topic note: It really sucks to be sick. Hope you escaped the flu, or get well real quick, Ton. I’ve always been pretty healthy (knock on wood). I very very rarely get sick, thank God. I’ve escaped some pretty bad epidemics on the floor (one time I did get bronchitis though).

      BV: “But it can also be psychological: “I will have no purpose, no meaning, if I fail at this book.” I’ll take needle-ball-and-airspeed over trying to write a good book, any day of the week.”

      I’ve attempted five different books and stopped four times (I do intend to finish all of them). But this last one (huge knock on wood) I’m actually pretty far into. Started it at the end of August, finished page 185 this morning. It should be about 250 pages (I thought it would be 225 but I don’t see wrapping it up that soon). Writing a book is REALLY hard.

      My other attempts were: the Magnum Opus, historical fiction, my husband took over that one and he’s about 170 or so pages in, at the rate of about five pages a month…I started a ghost story about a little girl, but lost my groove on that one. Another about a bomb sniffing dog (third person, but from the dog’s point of view, thought that would be interesting). This one I just started for a kind of fun way to write random thoughts. I had a weird dream and wrote it down and kind of went with it. It is NOT cerebral, or illuminating, and the writing is not ‘good’ in the conventional sense (written in the first person, and she’s the opposite of erudite). But I’ve had fun with it.

      When I’m done I hope it will be the best novel about a time-traveling-body-snatching-mafia-mistress-turned-hero….ever! (and corner that vast, untapped, time-traveling-body-snatching-mafia-mistress-turned-hero market). At any rate, I sure hope it’s an enjoyable read, as well as a check mark on my mental ‘life’ bucket list. 🙂

      1. BuenaVista

        I was reading the Joy Williams review of Denis Johnson’s new novel today. She had a line there that you’ll appreciate, Liz.

        Something to the effect of:

        “So writing, like old age and Wyoming, is not for sissies.”

      2. Liz

        I love that quote, BV. How true!

        Also…from the post below:
        “There are no 45 year-old fighter pilots.”
        That something like, ‘there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots’? 🙂

        I’ve been thinking about BV’s question since I read it and don’t have a good answer. Most men my age are done, they might do a year or two of contract work and extended it to 22 years but they are done or working on their exit plan. Not all, but a goodly number of guys in my line of work run roids so their biological chemical age is unlikely to be much different then mine. Most are less beat up physically. I don’t “believe” in what I am doing as in some kind of political or religious cause unless its believing in the value of money and having no debt especially sense I’ve decided to get back into the baby making business. I’m certainly not “bold”; I do the job by the numbers…..

      3. BuenaVista

        Liz: No old and bold etc.:

        My father’s job in WWII was to be an ensign commander in a landing boat on the beach assault of Japan, scheduled for the spring of 1946. MacArthur, whose predictions of American casualties during the island hopping across the Pacific had been prescient, predicted 1mm US casualties during that assault.

        Like most boys, Dad had enlisted the week he turned 17 and put into an V-12 (officer training) group in 1944. (This got him out of the midwest into a privileged academic environment he didn’t know existed, incidentally.)

        I asked him once if, at 19, he reflected on his odds of surviving the assault (which would have made D-Day an exhibition game). He said, No, neither he nor his friends ever reflected on that, they figured they’d be one of the survivors.

      4. BuenaVista

        Ton, as we discussed offline, I’m attempting to connect with a new, very sporty crew. Last night I was reflecting on my motivations for doing so, and those motivations are not of conviction or other self-aggrandizing, “noble” impulses. Basically, I’m curious to see what it’s like, though there is the added benefit of being extremely inconvenient for bad people. It’s possible that risk and complexity, per se, are just the flames I am bound to circle. It seems like a good, healthy, new frontier to chance.

      5. sfcton Post author

        yea brother you should do it for a year or two. It will change your world view but sadly not for the better. Reality bites but its good to see and experience.

        Most of what I have done in life for my own self aggrandizement. Whatever kind of asshole that makes me, I am

      6. Sumo

        nope you never think its going to be you.

        I always sort of assumed it would be me, for a few reasons – 1) I was always the first one through the door, 2) a large number of the former co-workers basically hid behind me and had the attitude “Meh, just let Sumo handle it. He’s better at it than we are” (not that any of them would ever admit to realizing that I was, in fact, better than most of them at the fightin’ side of things), and 3) in nearly every movie, TV show, or whatnot, if you have a group of white folks and 1 ethnic guy, the ethnic guy bites it first. Not good odds for yours truly.

        I think taking that view can cause a person to either curl up into a ball and cry (as mentioned above), or become the guy whom everyone around him thinks is a borderline sociopath.

        Anyone care to guess which one I am? 😀

        lol crazy ass McNip…..

      7. BuenaVista

        By ‘self-aggrandizing’ I just meant to refer to blowhards who gently weep tears of “God and Country” in order to feel superior. You know, just channel some Ollie North and Toby Keith, and get all misty eyed over the red white and blue.

        A) GOD: I think God has better things to do than get involved in my small decisions.

        B) COUNTRY: As a Jacksonian populist, I have lingering feelings for this country, but moreso in regard to what it was. And how others of us refuse to buy into the new academic/media/Big Finance/Big Gov’t version.

      8. sfcton Post author

        I certainly understand B) A Southern White man hasn’t had a nation since 1865 but when I am sad for what there where and could have been. It hasn’t been a nation for Founding Stock for a long damn time either

    2. sfcton Post author

      Just so BV. Overcoming the risk is the key character development. When I want, I can live a 1% SES lifestyle. On the way out here I fly 1st class to Dubai, stayed in one of the better hotels in that city and partied with some hitters. I get along well with many of the men at that level and it boils down to like recognizing like despite the risks and the success being in polar opposite lifestyles

    3. BuenaVista

      The relationship of risk, preparation/training, and mental outlook is organic, I think.

      For me the lure of risk is undeniable: the intoxicating attraction, the numbing fear that one is not good enough, the cold sweats at 3 a.m. when one thinks clearly and understands that one is traveling a path that wipes out more than it serves.

      And the surging brightness of living when a challenge is overcome. One survives a few of those episodes or endeavors that harvest 90% or so who attempt them. And one learns that preparation/training/planning have value when the brain shuts down.

      I’ve run a startup with 100 people when I was so emotionally battered I had to start each day with a flying-style emergency checklist, and a hot sheet to refer to (in order to keep my emotional frame in check; I actually took a 3×5 card to meetings to cue my own emotional frame). By the next year I stopped giving a shit when this or that board member made a run on my position and just buried them. I lost my AI (the artificial horizon) in an aerobatic plane as soon as I initiated the first turn in the clag, when it was 200-and-a-half, and I was on needle ball airspeed five seconds above the trees. That made a zero-thrust ILS approach at Teterboro, when I broke out at 400′ AGL at 160 knots, too fast to drop the gear, looking at a 5000′ runway, manageable.

      Thing is we retain this ambition for, or attraction to, risk. Eventually we’re not going to be in the properly prepared 10%, but instead the harvested 90%. Perhaps it’s fatigue or just raw probabilities. But I suspect that if one becomes innured to risk, it’s the beginning of the last chapter. These days, therefore, I think about risk-fatigue, as well as its lure, the role of training, and mental outlook. I am curious how a warrior keeps his edge, Ton. There are no 45 year-old fighter pilots.

      1. sfcton Post author

        Cannot speak for other men but I haven’t lost the drive. I turned 44 last month, 26 years on the line and I am looking forward to when the weather improves and hajji gets frisky

  4. sfcton Post author

    LOL thanks Liz but I was hit pretty hard. Only shitting my pants once made me one of the healthy men on duty.

    Normally I get respiratory infections in the like. Makes sense given how tore up my lungs are. Pert sure if I would have done better if I would have kept some mountain dew in reserve


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