“Tillin’ my own grave to keep me level…”






Like a traffic-light installed at an intersection after a fatal, multi-car collision, the ‘sphere has – Truth be told – a lamentable and tragic origin.


Yet, even then, neither the ‘sphere nor the traffic-light has any real power to stop the speeding travelers from destroying themselves, or each other, in the rush to destinations.


(Light is no physical barrier, after all.)


Thus, both can only do good if those encountering either heed their measured suggestions.


But something has troubled me lately, regarding this fact.




If you’ve been in this section as long as I, you may be aware that the constant push for “self-improvement” has been the most vociferous call raised among the voices collected herein.


Now, that – in and of itself – is not what troubles me.


What troubles me about that call is, much like many other recommended courses of action, it gets misheard, misused and misunderstood.


Sometimes to the point of uselessness and, more rarely but still extant, deleteriousness.


I’ll explain.




See, I have frequently seen too many men get caught up in “how much they’ve improved” or perhaps how much they’ve failed to do so.


Sometimes posturing with success; sometimes expressing bitter defeat.


While I believe it’s a noble goal to improve oneself, I have spent years trying to get men to save themselves first.


In short:


Climb out of the hole before attempting to scale mountains.




Some may say that climbing out of the hole is self-improvement.


I politely disagree.


It’s no more self-improvement than a drowning man grasping at flotsam to keep his head above water.


Demanding he compare himself to Olympic swimmers, at that desperate moment, may only cause him to embrace the depths.




Therefore, I focus a man’s sight on building healthy, beneficial, relationships with women rather than concern myself with how attractive they are.


I advise him to cultivate a worthy circle of ▶ friends ◀ to buoy his spirits and resolve during tough times, rather than be a lone, Alpha wolf.


I direct him to get his finances in order and out of debt rather than achieve entrepreneurial success or income independence.


I push him to ▶ discover ◀ what he wants, what drives him, what brings him contentment.


Competition is excellent and, indeed, crucial in a man’s development.


But only when he is well enough to compete.




To be fair, maybe there are more men out there that really need very little.


Maybe they’ve the legs to simply leap out of their current situation and hit the ground running.


Maybe I’m one who is wrong in all of this.


But the ▶ suicide rate ◀ among my brethren speaks too loudly in admonition.




Every drained bottle on the floor.


Every used needle in the alley.


Every empty chamber in the revolver.


All of them crying out:


Comparing myself to others is how I got here.


And why I’m here no more.




13 Responses to ““Tillin’ my own grave to keep me level…””

  1. I’ve seen this first hand in others and in my own life – comparing myself to others more accomplush at running, while I could barely walk, I threw away (even if not-intentionally) relationships I could have been happy with and handi-capped myself because I refused to let myself even enjoy the small victories.

    Hell – that’s one of the reasons I only know the first name of the first girl I had sex with and remember what she looks like, though it’s fading. And that’s truly a sad thing. One of my regrets for sure. It was preventable, but that’s 8 years ago when I was still first learning about everything. Instead of staying with her and enjoying myself, I immediately wanted more and new.

    It was only when in a pause in my drunken haze on senior trip that I realized she was gone and I’d have no way of finding out who she was or ever getting back in touch with her.


  2. Really needed this. Trying to get myself out of a hole right now, and this resonated:

    “Competition is excellent and, indeed, crucial in a man’s development.

    But only when he is well enough to compete.”

    I’ve been trying to recapture a sense of control, in part, by throwing myself into Chess lately – as in, I’ve played more than 860 games in less than one month. I’ve found myself incredibly frustrated and angry at only being able to win about 50% of the time, despite that being expected (and, indeed, built into the system I’m playing in).

    Why? Because every loss results from a mistake. Always. You always could’ve done better, and it is a stark reminder of how true that is, universally. Every failure on the board smacks of the same in life, if life is full of mistakes and resultant failures.

    I know that I am not “well enough to compete”. I know that I am not well enough to contextualize it, put it in its proper place – especially *because* I keep seeking the feeling of accomplishment that rushes through me when I strategize my way to a clear victory on the finite, 2D world of a chess board – a feeling that is sadly absent in the infinite, 3D world of reality.

    If competition is where you turn to know what it feels like to win, you will always lose.

    • Tharwolf,

      Glad to help.


      Just take your time and move with determination.

      Careful progress is not the same as foot-dragging.

      Be honest and reasonable with yourself and move as necessary.

      All the best to you & yours,


  3. A♠,

    In my experience I liken the process to getting back onto the highway after careening off into the woods. No matter how long it takes, or how arduous the trek, the key is getting back onto the road. Then you can take a breath, choose a direction, and floor it. Not before. The people you were racing with are long gone and over the horizon … you’re gonna do this on your own.

    It has to be accepted that the mistakes or misconceptions that led one to disaster were for ‘education’, not ‘paying dues.’ Life and love are not a corporate environment; there is no promotion for time served in loneliness or penury. It is what it is.

    Andy Dufresne had the perfect plan for a new life outside Shawshank Pen but he had to go through a wall and 500 yards of sewer pipe to get it going. Our advantage is that we can work day and night with better tools and no guards. Even get help.

    And that’s great … but … it still needs to be done. Get busy living!

    • JD,

      “No matter how long it takes, or how arduous the trek, the key is getting back onto the road. Then you can take a breath, choose a direction, and floor it. Not before. The people you were racing with are long gone and over the horizon … you’re gonna do this on your own.”


      Very well said.

      Sincerest thanks for that,


  4. Drive to the grave
    Drink to the brave

    Sometimes you have to keep your head down and heart high

    Later Ace

  5. You need to learn how to walk before you can run. People forget this sometimes, and always to tragic results.

  6. Eduardo the Magnificent Says:

    I am reminded of this article:


    “Average is over” is an attitude of acceptance that only extreme excellence is of any worth from now on, the rest of us consigned to the dumpster. And so we must go out and strive to beat the lottery. If we make it then we are quadruply entitled to adopt sanctimonious airs and wag the finger at those below on “the ladder to success.”
    This may well be the final form of that American strain of Puritanism before it finally implodes under the dire pressures it glorifies.

    One of the challenges a new society must overcome in the post-industrial age is to figure out how to cultivate subcultures, and eventually actual castes that concentrate human potential in self-reinforcing ways. The pathological individualism of “average is over” is ultimately the delusional idea that you can have a rose without the bush. A post-Western caste system asks: “what kind of bush might produce the best rose.”

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