In an age of triviality, where everything important and significant is denied, mocked, or twisted into its opposite and focus on the trivial is enforced in all aspects of life, one can find meaning in the trivial.
In past ages men rushed eagerly into outnumbered battles, men dove into the deep wilderness and there wrought order with calloused hands, men dedicated their entire lives to contemplation of to most fundamental truths. Now we are forced to wear helmets in padded rooms, wilderness has become more rare and precious than any order that could replace it, and the world is eager to make every thought for us.
Ultimately, this change is an illusion. If a man wants a fight with an enemy that gloriously outnumbers him and his comrades, the modern world can provide this better than any other age. If creating order is desired, the modern world also provides a fertile ground of rampant disorder. And those who wish to focus on the non-material are fortuitously situated in a time where basic material necessities are perhaps more easily achieved than ever before.
The modern would-be man doesn’t see this because of his birth into the modern world has narrowed his perception of the possibilities available to him. He is taught to focus only on what is placed before him. He is lured into complacency with comfort, and he is intoxicated with safety.
The possibilities are still there. Thank God men may still die, men may still receive the consequences of their actions, painful though they are, because without consequences there is no reality. The safety padding has not covered up all of reality, and even where it lies, reality lurks beneath. Escaping the modern world starts with pulling back the pillows.
Facing reality means facing consequences and accepting the possibility of pain and discomfort. Fear of pain and discomfort is an impediment to facing reality. As such, one may find it useful to learn to suffer pain well, and we are blessed with the availability of an excellent introductory teacher in capsaicin.
Find a hot sauce that says “ghost pepper” (also known as “naga jolokia” or “bhut jolokia”) and isn’t lying about it. Pour it onto your food. Pizza works alright for this, if for no other reason than its ubiquity (if you can’t get pizza you’ve probably already escaped modernity).
You may learn the source of the fire-breathing dragon’s malice. You may learn to harbor a fire in your belly. As this teacher’s lesson comes to an end, you may wake from your sleep into the dark night of the Scoville to face the greater jihad upon your solitary throne. There you may begin to learn the distinction between sensation and substance, or appearance and reality. But even if you succumb immediately and return to your infancy, wailing for milk, you will surely learn something about yourself.
Before Sir Edmund Hillary, men may have wondered whether a mountain could be unascendable by man, whether there is such a thing as “too high.” Like a philosopher, he sought the answer for himself, and found it. One may participate in a morsel of this spirit while in the broad, easy valleys and ask if there is such a thing as “too spicy.”