The Challenging Paradox of a Good Father-Son Relationship

It’s hard to be a father, and I can say that with confidence because I have made it hard for my own. Part of the reason is that I’m flawed. But part relates to a paradox at the heart of the father-son relationship: Good fathers want to teach their sons. Good sons want to make […]

Read More..

The Long Run Is Here

Remember when your parents told you to drink all your milk and eat all your vegetables so you would grow big and tall? I didn’t. I’m not short by any means (5 foot, 9 inches or thereabouts), but I sometimes wonder if I could have been taller. Anyway, back when I was 5 years old, […]

Read More..

The Long Term Makes the Short Term Easier

I’m working a pretty physical job right now, but I’m usually a bit surprised by what other people consider to be “really hard” work. Sure, moving dirt with shovels or gravel with wheelbarrows can be taxing, but I also know about jobs which are a lot harder – and I expect I’ll be doing them […]

Read More..

You’re Not Just Spending Time – You’re Spending Life

The wise have rightly said that “how you spend your day is how you spend your life.” It makes a lot of sense: the habits and the work happening (or not happening) day by day come very quickly to make up a life. Thinking about each 24 hours like this can have pretty profound effects […]

Read More..

Competition Makes Suffering Easier To Bear

Have you ever worked on a sandy surface in the summer sun? If you do, you’ll know that it’s one of the hottest places you can be in the summertime. That was my place today before noon, on a day full of outdoor work with temperatures reaching the 90s and typically high humidity. Am I […]

Read More..

You Don’t Get Credit for the Moral Advances of Others

Oh, you’re anti-racism, hmm? You believe women should have equal rights? You’re against war? You think Nazis are bad? Good. But that belief (and repeating it on social media, etc) doesn’t make you a hero. Being “more enlightened” than your ancestors in these ways doesn’t actually make you smarter or wiser. All of these beliefs […]

Read More..

Can I Wear Boots for This?

I have a simple working heuristic for how I want to spend the rest of my life: if I can’t do it in boots, I don’t want to do it. I grew up tramping around my family farmland in little black rubber boots which we still have up on one of our fireplace mantles. I […]

Read More..

Take Care of Your Tools

Back in May I spent a few days clearing brush with an older Hispanic man – someone far more experienced in the art of tree work than I. And every day before we started work and after we finished, he would take care of his tools. He would tighten the chainsaw blade. He would sharpen […]

Read More..

Limiting Variables and a Scientific Argument for Traditionalism

Good scientists know that good experiments limit their variables. They also limit the number of experiments running on a human population at the same given time. So what if human society was a grand experiment? How would our various cultural philosophies handle the running of experiments? How would traditionalism and modernism set up their laboratories? […]

Read More..

What If You Only Had One Year Left To Change?

Some folks say that your body stops growing at 25 and starts to move into maintenance and even decay from there. I’m less than a year away from that pivot point, where I stop being a “growing young man” and become a biologically mature person. It’s sobering to think that my biological growth will in […]

Read More..

Not Fulfilling Your Dreams Harms Those Around You

When you don’t work to achieve your dreams, you’re harming not just yourself, but everyone around you. People are already cynical enough about the possibility of living courageously, living adventurously, and living fully. People already are set to give up on dreams by the time they reach college. They don’t need your help on the […]

Read More..

It Helps To Know a Thing Intimately Before You Reject It

I’ve held a lot of strong positions on things political, cultural, religious, and philosophical in the course of my (short) life. And I’ve changed my mind: a lot. I realize my current positions continue to evolve and will continue to change with time. But – ironically perhaps – I trust my current positions more *because* […]

Read More..

Will Your Ancestors Welcome You As an Equal?

“I go to my fathers. And even in their mighty company I shall not now be ashamed. I felled the black serpent. A grim morn, and a glad day, and a golden sunset!” King Theoden, dying on the battlefield of Pelennor in The Lord of the Rings Imagine if after dying you joined all of your forebears in Valhalla, or Hades, or […]

Read More..

My Favorite Philosopher Is Me

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of people who are wiser than me. There are plenty of thinkers and writers more profound. There are plenty more original (I’m certainly influenced by lots of philosophers – some whom I don’t even know). There’s just not anyone else who can do my thinking – and living […]

Read More..

Needing Accountability Is Not Weakness

I used to think – and still feel sometimes – like wanting external accountability is a weakness. If I’m going to take action on something good, I should be fully self-motivated, right? Yes, self-discipline is quite important. But I’m now not so sure that external accountability is a weird crutch. We were made for tribes. […]

Read More..

Desire Is the Enemy of Courage

It sometimes occurs to me that my passions conspire to keep me from acting courageously. It’s ironic: I want to spend my life doing interesting, adventurous things that require courage. And that very desire often keeps me playing it safe, taking the cautious path. At least, it seems that playing it safe is the “safest” […]

Read More..

Hunters Are Just Weaponized Field Biologists

Let’s say you want to get some of the public involved in studying and managing wildlife ecosystems. If you had to pick from one group of folks for this volunteer field biology task force, which group would you choose? The environmentalists might have the passion, but they (on average) lack the know-how and toughness. The […]

Read More..

Know the Basis of Your Technology

Jurassic Park is a wonderful movie, but you’re cheating yourself of some fine philosophy if you don’t read the book. In the original Michael Crichton novel, the mathematician and Jurassic Park skeptic Ian Malcom delivers a fantastic speech on the difference between power gained through science for the genetic engineers of InGen (power handed to […]

Read More..

Act As If You Represent Something

It’s really easy to act like a doofus when you are “just being yourself.” Trust me, I know from personal experience. There’s something to the idea of being entirely your own man and not caring how your actions reflect in the minds of others. But unmooring yourself from any larger sets of values or traditions […]

Read More..

Memento Pater Mori

Remember that your father will die one day. “Memento mori” reminds us that we will die one day, and prompts us to act accordingly – to seize the day, to be all we can be, and to be grateful for this moment in life. But it’s not enough to reconcile yourself with your own doom, […]

Read More..

Your Weaknesses Are a Tightening Noose

Gary Vaynerchuk says you should double down on your strengths and hire for your weaknesses. I think that’s probably right. But you should be aware of the nature of your weaknesses: they are a tightening noose. With every day that goes by, your bad habits and weaknesses become stronger and more set in place. Each […]

Read More..

Every Man His Own Dominion

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” The Book of Genesis Whatever […]

Read More..

The State’s Monopoly on Adventure

The ability to do (morally aligned) violence independently is kind of essential to adventure. Fighting pirates, beating up bullies, dueling your mortal enemy, even shooting dangerous animals – you get the picture. It’s violent and dangerous stuff. And these used to be (almost) perfectly legal for the average man to do. And who of us […]

Read More..

The (Older) American Dream

When most of us hear of “the American dream,” we think of a house in the suburbs with a little white picket fence. How did the American dream get so lame? There was another American dream before that (as there have been many over time). It was the dream of 40 acres of land – […]

Read More..

I Haven’t Seen It Yet

Sometimes I think about which adventure goals would be worthwhile. To prepare for an adventure is a wonderful motivator and clarifier and compass for all work and learning. But it can be discouraging to realize how much has already been done in the world. There are few places unseen or untraveled by man. All the […]

Read More..

When Traffic Makes You Cry Tears of Joy

Today I saw a backed up line of cars and choked up a little bit. Now normally I hate traffic, I hate commuting, and I hate most of what they portend for my drive and for the place I live (crowding, etc). The past months have been strangely relieving in this regard: many people have […]

Read More..

How To Catch and Cook a Redfish in 10 Easy Steps

Catching redfish (or “spottail bass”) is a favorite pasttime of folks in the South Carolina lowcountry. I’ve been doing it in some form all my life, but usually as a tagalong with my father. To concretize my learnings from my last fishing trip, I’m writing this little guide to getting started: Check a tide chart. […]

Read More..

Bonding With Basic Spanish

It’s amazing how close you can feel to someone when you finally learn to speak even a little of their language. Language differences create huge barriers of understanding between two people, and they’re often compounded by the fact that one person or the other is from a different country and culture. Before somebody learns the […]

Read More..

Would You Watch Someone Watch TV?

We would probably find it incredibly boring to tune in to people tuning in. A person watching TV is often enough expressionless, usually sedate, and – at the end of the day – doing nothing unusual or noteworthy. They are the most boring possible character for a TV show. We watch TV to watch interesting […]

Read More..

Every Man Should Know How To Landscape

Every man should know how to landscape – and I don’t just mean mowing grass. Doesn’t the idea of a square, expressionless suburban lawn bore you to tears? Half of what makes the homes of the wealthy (and tastefully wealthy) so attractive is the shape and quality of their grounds. The trees, shrubs, stones, dirt, […]

Read More..