One of my vices over the last few years has been Viking shows and movies: The Last Kingdom, The Northman, Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla. If it involves axes, longboats and pagan mythology, I'm all-in.
My fascination with Viking warriors centers around how viscerally they lived: brutal yet deeply spiritual, in a constant dance with the gods, death and their destinies. As one of my female friends remarked recently after watching an episode of Vikings: “Those are men.” And I had to agree, she was right.
Part of the Viking male mystique for me is how they made peace with and even embraced the inevitable discomfort of living hard. They were tough! No doubt my Northmen ancestors would have a deep belly laugh over my smartphone scrolling, sweatshirt rocking, Erewhon produce perusing life. It'd probably bore them to tears. And while it's pretty great that as modern guys we don't have to split Saxon heads just to put food on the table, what we lose with our addiction to ease is the ability to grow. As Connor Beaton, founder of the organization ManTalks writes: “Your comfort kills your expansion. You're meant to press against your edge constantly. To see where your limits are, what you can handle, build, and bear the responsibility of...”
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I see some variation of this theme of comfort vs. edge come up constantly when I'm coaching and in men's groups:
Man has to have a difficult conversation at work or at home. But man has no practice having difficult conversations. So he avoids it, and in that avoidance sets up further discomfort down the road.
Man feels racked by self doubt, afraid to do anything outside his comfort zone or routine. His life feels meaningless and void of adventure, so he escapes into work, weed, alcohol, TV or porn.
Man loathes his job or his relationship, but is attached to the comfortable lifestyle it provides him. So he keeps taking it on the chin, grinding his soul into peanut butter while failing to search for something that makes him feel truly alive. His whole life suffers as a result.