“It’s dark as Hell, and hard to find…”






The drum I beat loudest, hardest and longest here is for men to learn who they are, embrace it and develop it.


But one thing that often becomes a stumbling block is where to begin.


Sure, there are myriad articles out there giving solid advice.


Start eating well.


Begin an exercise routine.


Or, the now popular “clean your room”.


Admittedly, all of those are excellent suggestions.


And I’ve no complaint about any of them.


However, I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t offer an alternative.




See, I’m of the mind that – should one find oneself lost and alone in the midst of a dark wood…


The first thing that should be done is to retrace one’s steps.


How far back?


As far as necessary.




No doubt, retreading these tangled thickets and gnarled copses of painful memory and traumatizing experience will induce flashbacks of all too familiar terror.


Which is, very likely, why so few self-reflect; choosing instead to simply (stubbornly) press onward.


While persistence and perseverance can certainly be admirable qualities, the culmination of such must be a worthwhile achievement.


Consider: that method (blithely pressing onward) is quite possibly the reason one crashed through bramble after bramble until firmly centered in the frightening, strange landscape currently occupied.




So, I say stop.


Look back.


To years or decade past, as needed.


Adolescence or boyhood.


Where did you lose yourself?


Seek and you’ll find.


Then walk again.


But this time with careful determination.



 “In a dark wood


where the straight road had been lost sight of.


How hard it is to say what it was like


in the thick of thickets, in a wood so dense


and gnarled


the very thought of it renews my panic.”


– Dante’s Inferno Canto I, Translated by Seamus Heaney








6 Responses to ““It’s dark as Hell, and hard to find…””

  1. I lost myself twice – the first time was sometime after the relationship with the German girl from Berlin and the second time was sometime April 2017 when I got comfortable after my last APFT.

    At least, this is what I think with my first reflection.

    I’m sure each time I try it I’ll get closer to the truth.


  2. I could be wrong, but I think Abraham Lincoln once said that for a man to know where he was going, he had to know where he was, and for a man to know where he was, it was necessary to know where he came from.

    I think that applies here. If we cannot understand the paths we have walked in the path which led us to darkness, there is nothing which is preventing us from walking them again in the future and finding ourselves, once again, devoid of light.

    • Donal,

      ” If we cannot understand the paths we have walked in the path which led us to darkness, there is nothing which is preventing us from walking them again in the future and finding ourselves, once again, devoid of light.”

      That was my whole post in one line.

      Well done.

      All the best to you,


  3. We’ve all seen or heard them:

    ‘Pressing on regardless’
    ‘Darkest before the dawn’
    ‘Too many people quit just before their big breakthrough’
    ‘Keep the faith’
    ‘Follow your passion and the money will come’
    ‘Cast your bread upon the waters’
    ‘If you can’t find a way make a way’

    This can lead to great success. It can also lead to things like the Donner Party and Passchendaele.

    In the last few months of WW II, the Nazi Propaganda Minstry made a film about Frederick The Great. They even pulled back front-line soldiers to use as extras for the battle scenes. Frederick was at one point at war with most of Europe, and on more than one occasion was on the brink of defeat …. right down to Russian troops marching through Berlin! The Prussians in ’45 were hoping for a schism in the Allied ranks, the thing that saved their bacon in 1762.

    The message? We’ve been here before, hold out for victory.
    God only knows the number of extra deaths from that false hope.

    Stubbornness and determination must always have a place in life. But without a definitive direction you are burning time and playing craps with your future. All or Nothing isn’t a game I recommend.

    Romantic? You bet. Even the tales of loss are stirring.
    Smart? No. But then how many smart men lose their loves to romantic ones?
    Both will always exist, and must be taken into account.

    “In the abundance of counselors there is wisdom”.

  4. […] understanding the importance of being yourself, to exercising, to cleaning one’s environs and to embrace/overcome one’s […]

  5. Tough one – I was raised to abhor the “self”.

    To believe that self-interest and thinking for one’s self was quite literally to follow the Devil into the fiery lake of Gehenna, everlasting destruction. To believe that Paradise consisted of all people on Earth being identical in opinion and desire and without any genuinely distinguishing characteristics. To believe that to express a *personal* opinion was to risk condemning oneself to death by “stumbling” others and causing them to leave the path of righteousness, thereby incurring “bloodguilt”.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever found myself quite enough to say whether I’ve lost it. What to do then? Still working on that one.

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