This probably seems like an odd title for a post on this blog but it is the title of a book I read recently by Michael Asher. Friends and family were surprised at my choice of reading material yet it seemed very natural to me.
It is an autobiographical account of someone who went through the extremely rigorous training required to become part of the infamous British Parachute Regiment known as the Paras, and the even more infamous Special Air Service, or SAS.
This training has broken many strong and capable people. Not only is it tough in a physical way but according to the author the mental determination necessary to get through this ordeal was tremendous.
Regardless of your beliefs about war and violence, you have to admire the sheer determination of those who can survive the brutality of this sort of training. They have to be incredibly tough, both physically and mentally. Could you survive it?
The modern world doesn’t encourage physical and mental toughness. It allows us to avoid a lot of difficult situations. We can get out of things by text or email. We can escape to the online world. We can switch off or procrastinate in front of the TV. We can pay other people to do the difficult things for us.
We, in the Western world, aren’t faced with the daily struggles of survival such as finding food and staying alive as some people are. This has made us soft – physically and mentally. Most of us would struggle to defend ourselves, or even survive without our Ipods, cappuccinos, and Blackberries.
I used to have an outdoor job in adventure tourism which kept me in great shape. Now that I work in an office I have to remember to find ways to keep myself on my toes and stop myself from becoming soft. My friends at my old job are always quick to notice the difference.
I don’t think it’s enough just to go to the gym and be fit – I think we should seek out challenges. You’ve probably heard of the idea of doing something that scares or challenges you every day, not just physically, but in other ways too – mentally, socially, personally and spiritually. Would you be a better person if you did that every day for a month? A year? A lifetime? I know I would.