Manhood, I used to believe, was lonely, an isolated trek through the rough edges of an uncaring, dispassionate world.
Yet, as I've told my cohorts, I've realized that all of this pain is a blessing, a godsend.
It is immolation, reincarnation of the highest order, a ruthless shedding of dead skin and putrid flesh, plucking shriveled feathers that have waned in their vitality and pallor.
Those I've lost, and will lose as my journey towards the realization of my highest self continues, were weak and fated to die, unworthy of walking beside me through the unforgiving wastes of this world.
Those that have found me, and seek me, are my chosen tribe, bound by ideology and adherence to personal perfection, physically, mentally, spiritually and temporally.
Blood has proven to congeal in the veins of the blinded, while sweat has formed bonds of love and devotion, whether captured by a patch on the back of a kutte or gi's stained with the collective grime and effort blanketing a dojo's mat.
The age of apology, of meekness and weakness, shirking duties in favor comfort and indolence, are gone the way of the past I've pined for and pursued for far too long.
Paul Waggener teaches us to despise weakness in others, and especially in ourselves.
Paul Carter preaches that vulnerability is true strength, and that compassion marks masculinity, not apathy and rudeness.
Wes Watson cautions us against our base selves, to wonder, privately and aloud, if our actions are bringing us the results we crave so ravenously.
Jocko Willink declares negativity, setback, opposition and adversity to be the highest of blessings, for they grant us the opportunity to grow, exceed and excel.
These, and many others, are my new leaders, the celestial bodies guiding me towards the shore, allowing me to navigate confidently.
But I'm nothing if not a Sailor, so let the seas grow violent and threatening.
I'll kill them all too.