Saturday, February 13, 2016


I find that many trainees have a desire to be indestructible.  They train, live and act with this goal in mind.  The hope is that, by being indestructible, they will be impervious to damage and injury, which will ensure a long training career that results in the greatest possible outcome for their effort.  However, observing those that have actually made it to the top, one realizes that these individuals were not indestructible, but instead possessed another distinct and altogether separate quality: they were unkillable.
A desire for indestructability is ultimately a desire that is motivated by fear.  Fear of injury and, at its root, fear of pain and discomfort.  One who wishes to be indestructible wishes to never experience pain, and they take all measures possible motivated BY the avoidance of pain at all costs.  These are the people performing hours of mobility work, stretching, foam rolling, hot stone massage, prayer, ice baths, animal sacrifices, etc etc in order to avoid muscle pulls.  It’s the people that prattle on about “injury prevention” as a training goal.  It is those who ultimately never progress, because one of the easiest ways to remain indestructible is to never encounter any danger.  If you avoid any potential harm, you will remain unharmed.

Image result for Bubble Boy
"I am invincible!"
The trait of being unkillable is wholly different.  The unkillable can only be identified THROUGH their constant exposure to pain.  They are the prototypical horror movie zombie; they break bones, snap ligaments, tear muscles off the bone, and just keep coming back for more.  Whereas the indestructible do not bleed, the unkillable spit blood in the face of their aggressors, daring them to hit them again.  While the indestructible feel no pain, the unkillable laugh when they receive pain, and they smile a broken toothed smile at the inflictor.  They crawl out of the wreckage on two broken legs with a knife between their teeth, still ready to slit throats and take down everyone in their path.

Image result for the black knight monty python
Yeah, he's missing 2 arms, but who is on the ground getting kicked right now?
The key difference between the two here is that being indestructible is a passive act, while being unkillable requires action.  One becomes unkillable by being such a stubborn, aggressive, tenacious and dangerous sonuvabitch that it’s just not worth the fight.  You become unkillable when fate would rather just leave you alone versus having to deal with your insanity.  Kafka touched on this retelling the story of the Odyssey, wherein, upon arriving to the location of the Sirens, Odysseus plugged his ears with wax and chained himself to the mast of the ship.  By all accounts, these measures were meaningless, as the song of the Sirens was said to be able to penetrate wax and compel men to overpower chains…and yet Odysseus passed by unharmed.  Kafka posits that, upon seeing a mortal so hellbent on beating the Sirens song, the Sirens felt compelled to relent without challenging Odysseus.  They saw a fight that just plain wasn’t worth having, as any mortal batshit crazy enough to chain themselves to the mast was most likely going to be more trouble than he was worth.
In one of the greatest westerns of all time (Tombstone), Wyatt Earp, played by Kurt Russell, displays one of the best examples of when the indestructible meets the unkillable.  Being surrounded, with multiple guns drawn on him, Earp chooses to place his pistol square on the skull of the man in front of him.  When informed that there’s no way he can kill all the men drawn on him, Earp replies that, yes, he’ll go down, but not before “turning your head into a goddamn canoe”.  I’ve included the scene here for your pleasure, but really, watch the whole movie. 

Earp wasn’t bulletproof.  He wasn’t indestructible, he instead made himself unkillable.  He made it so that, even when clearly at the disadvantage, he won out, because he became a fight that wasn’t worth having.  People knew that, if you tried to kill him, he was taking you down with him, and ultimately those people preferred being indestructible rather than unkillable.

Image result for Tombstone shootout
*Spoilers* It ends up not working out so well
To quote Nietzsche, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.  If your end goal is to avoid any situations that could result in harm, you’re not going to get stronger.  However, if you keep getting back up time and time again everytime something knocks you down, daring it to do it again, you’re going to get strong, and you’re going to win.

“You don’t know where I’ve been…”

No comments:

Post a Comment