Two Army Rangers Discuss Going Nomadic

IG: leo_jenkins

IG: leo_jenkins

In the formative years of his life, Leo Jenkins was an Army combat medic in 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Having completed deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007 Leo ended his enlistment after four years of service, exchanging the high-octane world of Army special operations for the uncertainty of civilian life.

He has published three memoirs. In the first, Lest We Forget, he details his war experiences and drunken shenanigans as a Ranger medic. In his second, On Assimilation, he tackles the emotional rollercoaster of adapting to civilian life. His journey takes him from the kick-in-the-gut realization that his intensive training as a special operations medic wouldn’t qualify him to be a basic EMT…to battling alcoholism and feeling of isolation caused by those moments spent in a wartorn land…to opening and operating a successful CrossFit gym.

In his latest book, First Train Out Of Denver, Leo decides to leave the hustle and bustle that had become his life to go nomadic instead. With the utmost sense of purpose and intensity that is a definitive characteristic of an Army Ranger, he seeks to find adventure, enlightenment, and to make sense of those formative years of his life.

Raul Felix: Leo, your life as an unemployed vagabond started when you got up to go to work one morning and thought to yourself, “I don’t want to go to work today.” You then sold your possessions, business, said goodbye to your friends, and got yourself a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. What was the toughest part emotionally for you of that process?

Leo Jenkins: That is a phenomenal question that no one has ever asked me. I was in a dark place when I purged my possessions and took to the world. I was seeking some sort of solace in the comforts of solitude. By disconnecting myself from the only people who share my mutual experiences, I was forced into intense introspection. It’s a perilous endeavor if one is not prepared. Seven years of stuffing down the tumultuous cognitive dissonance created by multiple combat deployments violently surfaced, and there wasn’t another veteran, let alone Ranger, for thousands of miles. I was forced to sit in my own stewing antipathy alone. I was forced to truly come to terms with my youthful decisions and transgressions against my fellow man. It nearly killed me, but I’m a better man for it.

Raul Felix: What do you mean by it almost killed you?

Leo Jenkins: With no set schedule and no real responsibilities, I began drinking heavily. I began writing the book On Assimilation during this time. I was pulling up all the tribulations of my return to society and writing them down. I was alone, reliving my worst moments in vivid detailed prose.

Raul Felix: Just like being in the Army, traveling has a learning curve that can only be learned by actually doing it. What are some stupid cherry traveler mistakes and assumptions you made in the early phases of your trip, and what solutions did you come up with?

Leo Jenkins: Not everyone values what we value as a society. Traveling to any foreign country is an opportunity to shut up and listen, not to impose your belief set. Be a sponge and retain as much as you can. Release as much of your preconceived ethnocentric tendencies before getting on the plane, and almost everything else will come with ease.

The world is not a dark and scary place. Sure, there are assholes abroad, just like there are assholes in your hometown. Chances are, they’re just having a bad day and do not represent the ideology of their entire country. However, when entering their nation you become an ambassador for ours. So if you act like an asshole, the assumption will be that everyone from your country is [also an asshole], due to their potentially limited exposure to your nationality.

On a more specific note, don’t ever exchange currency at the airport; they will rip you off worse than the new Ghostbusters movie. Research the exchange rate ahead of time then hit the ATM. A lot of countries will take US dollars, but every shop will pound you on the exchange rate.

Raul Felix: When Marty Skovlund and yourself began doing your trip Eastbound to raise money for the Gallant Few, you tapped into your social media network of veterans. This dramatically increased the pace of your trip and raised awareness for your cause. Who was the coolest or most unique veteran you met in this manner?

Leo Jenkins: I’ve had the distinct honor of interviewing veterans all across the world regarding their experiences in war and assimilation. While Marty and my fundraiser across the world to raise awareness and funds for the Gallant Few provided me the opportunity to get to know many amazing war fighters, I’d have to say our conversation with a particular Korean War veteran and former UDT diver (predecessor to the Navy SEALs) was a standout. His narrative of war was equal parts adolescent inquisitiveness for the world, tragedy, and the dark profane humor of a salty special-operations soldier. Shrouded by a leathered face, his eyes told the story with the razor-blade poignancy of a young warrior. And his words regarding the separation, the isolation, following combat rang like a church bell through the ardor of my being.

Raul Felix: Aren’t you pissed off you got assigned to 3rd Batt instead of 2nd Batt?

Leo Jenkins: 3rd Batt was actually my fourth choice. At the end of the special operations medical course, each of the six Ranger medics graduating with my class were asked to list, in order, where they wanted to go. My list went, 1st (cause the beach), then 2nd (because the mountains), Regiment (because I already had a bunch of medic friends working there) and finally 3rd. To be honest, I was pissed at first, but the journey connected me with some of the most inspiring and amazing men of our generation. I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything.

Raul Felix: In the past, you made your name known for your military articles and books. What made you make the shift from military writer to travel adventure writer?

Leo Jenkins: I believe vehemently in the necessity of evolution throughout the course of life, to expand and contract and flow with the natural fluidity of a river. It’s taken a decade since leaving 3rd Ranger Battalion, and in many ways my experiences there will always influence my writings, but being who we are, not who we once were, is the acme of a free and jubilant soul.

Raul Felix: I agree with that. Human beings are human beings everywhere you go. It’s easy to think X or Y people are bad because the narrative the media portrays of them. If you weren’t an American, what nationality that you encountered could you see yourself growing up and fitting in with?

Leo Jenkins: I’m often asked if I’m a Canadian when traveling through foreign countries for various reasons. My fiancée is Canadian and I do associate with their culture in many ways. I’ve even been told to tell people I am so as to not provoke the negative connotations associated with being an American abroad. I don’t do that; I will never do that. I am proud of where I come from because I know firsthand how many truly amazing people come from the US. I’m as welcome to external cultural experience as any human on Earth, but I’m simultaneously unapologetically American.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Signs A Woman Is A Dependopotamus
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: Jumping Out of Airplanes: How It’s Really Like

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4 Things That Happen When You Start To Mature As A Man

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IG: raulfelix275

I, like any self-respecting man, have done a lot of stupid shit that I am not proud of but not really ashamed about, either. There are some things in life you can’t learn by just reading a book. Some things you have to experience firsthand in order for the lessons to drive themselves into your skull. Some men mature relatively early; others opt to stay a man-child for life. While every individual is on his or her own maturity timeline, when you reach a certain threshold of growth, you begin to see the world a bit differently.

You Begin To Reject Chicks You Would Have Fucked Before

Being a young man sucks in many aspects. You have little to no money, you haven’t accomplished shit, and you’re not fully developed physically or mentally. Girls have it easier during those years when it comes to getting laid because they’re in their prime in appearance and are usually banging guys who are older and way more interesting than you are. Or because they’re in a band or an all-star athlete. Regardless, they have dick buffet and they get their pickings. For young men, these bleak years, pussy dry spells are more like dust bowls. So when some random skank who may be missing a chromosome is all over you because she’s in dire need of a dicking, you dive in with reckless abandon.

As you’ve slowly grown over the years, experienced more, and hooked up with varying qualities and kinds of women, you’ve become more frugal with the amount of effort you’re willing to put into a particular type of chick. You begin to think of not only about wetting your dick, but the possible consequences. Not just STIs and babies, but of social, time, and emotional cost.

Some homely chick is giving you clear signals she’s eager to let you test her gag reflex, yet you’re way more into her friend. Since you’re no longer in a poon deficit, you’re in a better position to gently yet firmly turn her down in order to continue flirting with the cutie. Even without a third,party factor, you know you’re going to hate yourself later for messing around with her because she’s going to want to be around you post-coitus. That’s precious time you could be using to work out, play video games, read a book, stare off into the ceiling of your room as you contemplate life, start a multi-million dollar business, or jack off.

Yet the most important thing you learn is to respect your emotional health as a man. You’ve become weary of girls who are flakes, liars, complainers, negative, lazy, and who create drama for drama’s sake. When a girl tries to play emotional games with you, you don’t play their game; you simply cut them out of your life. Being emotionally crippled, broken, and unstable may create character depth and interesting plot points in movies and novels, but a girl like that can ruin your life in the real world. Many a good man has been destroyed by a she-serpent’s charms.

You grow to appreciate the girls who aren’t girls, but women. Who do what they say they’re going to do. Who tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Who go out of their way to make you feel worthwhile, instead of when it’s convenient. Who try to help you accomplish your goals without being a nagging bitch. Who compliment your manhood, not belittle it. Who respect your time and emotions. Who are trustworthy. Who make you happy to be man.

You Realize Who Your True Brothers Are

Women come and go. Your ex-girlfriend whom you told all the little tidbits of your life one day becomes a total stranger whom you avoid all means of contact with because she has blocked you on social media and changed her number. That one fling you spent a whole summer with begins to fade from your memory. If you’ve been a solid dude who has been loyal and maintained some semblance of contact with your male friends, you know when shit gets real, you’ll have someone who has your back.

Whether it’s going on a mission to kill or capture a high-value target, riding motorcycles side-by-side, playing video games, or getting thrashed and attempting to pick up chicks, male friendships are forged by doing activities together. Through many nights, months, and years of consistent shit talk, laughs, and tempers being pushed, you’ll develop a good idea of the character your best male friends possess. You’ll learn who the fake thugs and who the real gangsters are.

These are men who will attempt to keep you from getting into a fight with that douchebag of the pop-collar variety. If that fails, they’ll assist you in bringing the hammer down. Men who will give you some realistic perspective on your flaws when your delusions of grandeur have gotten the best of you. Men who will help you, within their means and ability, when the world has beat the living shit out of you. Men who will mentor and give you some solid advice when you’re crossing the same path they’ve crossed a few years back. Men whom you can call brothers.

You Learn To Accept You Character Flaws and Take Responsibility For Them

We all have character flaws that hinder or set us back. Maybe it’s a short temper, a severe drinking problem, overwhelming shyness, womanizing, gluttony, sloth, or arrogance. Owning your character flaws and attempting to fix them is what separates you from the typical boy.

The boy blames others for his shortcomings; the man figures out how to eliminate or mitigate them. The boy does the bare minimum in order to get by; the man does more than his share of the task, one hundred percent and then some. The boy believes that the world owes him something; the man knows he must earn everything. The boy avoids the consequences of his actions; the man accepts them, no matter how painful.

We aren’t robots, we’re people. Each of us has our dark secrets and insecurities. Our moments of selfishness that hurt those we love. Those times where we let our outlandish emotions get the best of us. Where our vices caused us to make a mockery out of ourselves. Where our hubris and cockiness caused us to push beyond on our true competence and we were schooled by reality as a result. Where we stood by quietly when we should have spoken up. Where we lied or omitted details in order to get what we wanted.

Your flaws and mistakes and how you interpret them will mold you into a man, whether it’s the kind of man young boys look up to or one who will serve as an example of how not to be. The small actions you take each day in your effort to harness and control your flaws will determine which you shall become.

You Start To Realize How Not To Be An Idiot With Your Money

Being broke fucking sucks. Anybody who has been in that position for more than a moment knows it’s detrimental to the soul. Maybe you’re not so broke to the point where you’re out on the street sucking dicks for a tuna sandwich. But you’ve been in a position where you’re barely scraping by. Where after your rent is paid, driving further than ten miles becomes an economic decision. It could mean the difference between eating one meal or two that day.

When you’re young and stupid with your cash, payday becomes a spending frenzy. All those promises you made to yourself about setting aside ten percent or more go out the window. Because you’re fucking rich, bitch! #YOLO, carpe diem, and fuck the police! You go out on the town and treat yourself to a good, hearty dinner with a few fruity cocktails because you don’t give a fuck if they’re chick drinks. Then, fuck it, you’re out and about anyways; time to hit up the bars and chug some shots and beers. You then see some cute chick and want to impress her and show her how much of a baller you are. Even though your game is weak as shit, you convince yourself that buying her a Merlot from some vineyard whose name you can’t pronounce is a surefire way to pound that puss.

The next morning you wake up alone fully dehydrated and still wearing your piss-dampened jeans. You check your bank account and see a bunch of pending transactions that total $147. Fuck it, it was just one night though, no biggie. You’ll be a good boy with the rest of the money in your account. Oh yeah, your car payment is due, minus another $280. Toss in another couple of nights of drunken shenanigans with your buddies, minus $170. Oh yeah, you must pay your cell-phone bill because you definitely can’t miss out on texting them fine bitches, $47. Two credit-card payments from those cards you have maxed out, $100. Random little toys and trinkets you absolutely need, $150. Don’t forget that little trip to the strip where the woman of your dreams seductively tells you her life story while taking off her clothes. Damn it, you’re broke again. Payday is still seven days away. Looks like you’re eating Ramen noodles and Spam again.

Give or take a dozen years into adulthood, you begin to realize how stupid this cycle truly is. It’s great to treat yourself and buy those experiences to help you grow as a person, but it’s also great not to have to be constantly vigilant about the money in your account lest you get an overdraft fee. While being a penny-pincher makes you a mundane waste of existence, blowing all your money unscrupulously isn’t going to get you ahead in life, either. You learn both the skills needed to increase your earning potential and the discipline not to spend it all on snorting cocaine from an escort’s ass. You set aside cash for the hard times because the boom-bust cycle that is life comes hard and fast…an expensive car repair, a lost job, a medical emergency, or worse, getting some chick pregnant and thus ruining all your hopes and dreams. You have to hedge a bit for those unforeseen circumstances, or being broke ceases to become a cycle and instead a lifestyle—one that makes it really hard (not impossible) to reach your full potential as a man.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Life Lessons An Old Man Called “Wild Bill” Taught Me
Read: How To Find The Greatness Within You
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29

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Ego Is The Enemy: An Interview With Ryan Holiday

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IG: ryanholiday

Ryan Holiday hit the real world hard and fast. At 19, he decided to drop out of college because he was offered an opportunity any ambitious would-be writer would pounce on: a job as a research assistant to Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. This would lead him to working with and advising several bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians.

He kept the ball rolling from there and became the marketing director of American Apparel, where he put into place a very successful campaign that produced both big profits and heavy criticism. But he grew disgusted with the state of online media and released a book that put his name on the map, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The book detailed how easy it was to manipulate online media because of its lack of source verification and its traffic-driven outrage-porn business model.

After reading that book, I discovered and devoured all of his writings. I studied and applied a lot of his stoic principles about business, life, and writing into my own thought process and actions. He is one of the most unique, practical, and highly respected contemporary thinkers.

In his new book, Ego Is The Enemy, he seeks to advise the reader through the lives of notable and not-so-notable historical and current figures about what havoc an untamed ego can have on a person’s life and how one goes about controlling it.

Raul Felix: Ryan, in this book, you analyze how the ego can have destructive effects on people. You even mentioned seeing one of your mentors transform from someone you aspired to be like to never wanting to be like that person. Egos don’t only exist in people of high achievement or celebrity; it is also quite common in the general population. What common examples do you see today of people with high egos yet little substance to back it up?

Ryan Holiday: Yes, exactly. It is precisely because we see this type of behavior in a lot of prominent public figures that we try to reverse-engineer their success and manufacture the right pose. There are plenty of “wantrepreneurs” out there acting like mini-Steve Jobs and plenty of musicians who think that behaving like Kanye West is acceptable. We falsely assume that ego—manifested in their entitlement, arrogance, braggadocio, and swagger—is what drove success. In fact, it was the talent that compensated for the ridiculous, destructive ego. We don’t think about the survivorship bias that hides from view all the people who’ve failed and flamed out because of their own ego-driven sabotage. What is also hidden is the huge subset of successful people who are not clamoring for the limelight.

We also live in a culture that actively promotes constant self-promotion and grandiosity—all of it magnified by a thousand by social media. It is also hard not to think you’re the greatest if that is the message you’ve been hearing constantly from your parents since you were born. Combine these factors, and you see why we have a downright epidemic of ego.

Part of why I initially wanted to write this book is because I would get a lot of emails from really overconfident and brash young people who would send me all these ridiculous emails. And then at large, you see it for instance with people who are not willing to take entry-level positions—But I went to college! But it was the Ivy League! —or people who are not willing to listen or take any sort of feedback because they think they’ve already figured it all out. You see it with people bragging and boasting about what they’re going to do—their ego craving for validation and applause before the fact.

Raul Felix: A line that really stuck out to me was, “If you start believing in your own greatness it is the death of your creativity.” I’m sure any artist who has produced a piece or two of topnotch work has fallen into that trap—even gloating to themselves or others about their creative genius. I’ve done it a few times when I wrote some really good stuff. How does one avoid falling prey to that part of the ego while keeping the fortitude to drive on?

Ryan Holiday: I love that line, too; it’s actually from Marina Abramović, the performance artist. There is another quote from UFC champion Frank Shamrock that I try to think of on a regular basis: “False ideas about yourself destroy you.”

The second you start gloating and letting success get to your head—that you’ve figured it all out—that’s precisely when you make some critical mistake or miscalculation. In that moment of self-satisfaction, learning grinds to a halt. What I love about writing, actually, is that those feelings are constantly elusive. You can’t get a big head with a craft which requires decades and decades of work before you even begin to approach mastery. There is no “graduation.” If you think like a craftsman, become an eternal student, and adopt a beginner’s mindset, ego is suppressed and you can go on working and working.

The problem is when you start to listen to other people. My last book has started to sell very well, so I could let that puff me up. I’ve gotten some very kind and generous reviews. It would be a mistake to listen to those things too closely. For the next book, you have to continue to approach it with humility and self-awareness. Essentially you have to start from zero.

And in the book I talk about how ego separates us from reality—we start living in our heads. This sort of intoxication with positive feedback and success makes us forget that there are people in our field who are infinitely more successful than we are. Someone recently mentioned that one of the best things about attending TED is how humbling it is to be in a room with all these people. It doesn’t take away what you’ve accomplished, but it puts things into perspective—it grounds you back to reality.

Raul Felix: You also mention the incubation process, that period where you must trudge through a long period of obscurity as you wrestle with a topic or a paradox. What would the incubation process look like for the normal person, who can’t really drop everything and live in a cabin cut away from society as they hone their skills?

Ryan Holiday: I’ve mentioned the incubation process, which is what the strategist John Boyd called his ‘draw-down’ period. It is the time after we’ve had what we think is a brilliant idea and then take the time to process it and think it through before we embark on it.

I do not think it requires you to drop everything and go live in a cabin away from society—I certainly didn’t do that (although living on a ranch helps!). It’s simply the moment after you’ve had the idea, after you’ve put the first round of thinking into the project and then have to step back and say: “OK, what do I really have here?” “Do I actually have something?” “What is this really going to be?”

Otherwise, we have ego telling us that we have the best idea ever and blinds us to all the components that we need to work on. Ego Is the Enemy ended up being different from the initial book proposals precisely because there was time between conception and execution.

And wrestling with a topic or a paradox requires you to invest a serious amount of time in a state of what the author Cal Newport calls “deep work”—that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Two examples for me are walking and running, during which I wrestle with ideas. I also have an article on this site on how to accomplish more deep work in our lives where I give some other examples that can be helpful.

Raul Felix: You made an a sharp distinction of how the ego affected two Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. Grant sought the high office of the presidency and chased after big money, causing him to have one of the most corrupt administrations in our nation’s history and going publicly bankrupt, while Sherman chose to be content and lead a private life afterwards. How can a person distinguish if what they’re chasing after is genuine or if it’s their ego yearning for more?

Ryan Holiday: It’s funny because I really admire both of them. This country we live in would not be possible without the personal heroism and bravery of both of them—probably Grant most of all. At the same time, I find the end of his life to be very sad. I wish he could have enjoyed the success he had.

In my view, the main reason doing that is so hard is because we try to have it. We want what we want and what other people have, too. We want to do our own thing but not be left out, either. We want a quiet life but also want to be the center of attention.

It’s our ego telling us to always say yes to more things, more projects, events, meetings. It will also always say yes to more money if given the opportunity. (Ego doesn’t care whether that’s the right decision for us.) Ego rejects trade-offs. It wants it all. It’s incredible how hard it is for us to say no to anything—again, especially money.

The solution? Really ask yourself: Why do I do what I do? What is important to me? What is the one goal or thing I want more than any other? That’s the question you need to answer. Stare at it until you can. It’s not easy by any stretch, and I am telling you that from my personal experience. I’ve had to do so in my own life and it’s why I have an entire chapter dedicated to that idea. Understand what’s important to you and know your priorities.

The goal is to make decisions with clarity and purpose—not ego. Only after spending time alone and asking ourselves these tough questions can we know which way we are swaying.

Raul Felix: Hitting rock bottom, whatever that may be for a person, is one of those humbling experiences that can make or break you depending on how your ego responds to it. I’ve been through a couple of hard times in my life where I needed to fight for every bit of progress while I got back on my feet. Along the way I learned some lessons. Yet I remember being warned that my actions would lead to that. What do you feel it is about our nature that makes it so we don’t always learn from others but have to fuck up big time in order to drive consequences of our actions through our skull?

Ryan Holiday: Nobody gets very far or lives very long without getting their ass kicked a few times. It’s not pleasant at the time when in retrospect we tend to appreciate those experiences—because we learned so much from them. The problem is that those lessons tend to fade over time, because we start to feel like we’ve moved past them—that we’ve got it. When I got Ego Is the Enemy tattooed on my forearm it is exactly this part of human nature that I wanted to warn myself against on a daily basis. It is this part of us that says that we know better, that makes us unwilling to listen to others, to remember to be objective and clear-headed and honest. I have made those mistakes myself, and having a daily reminder is one way to prevent it from happening again.

And it will always be the case that the hardest lessons are learned from direct experience. Plutarch says that we don’t “so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience [we have] of things.” That shouldn’t be an excuse to not study and learn to prevent those from occurring. Reading books—especially biographies—becomes helpful here. Whatever situation you are currently facing, others have gone through that and written about it.

There’s a quote from Bismarck that says, in effect, any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience. It is why the book is full of cautionary tales—so that we see what ego-driven choices and decisions others made in history and how that led to their downfall. Still, though, I understand that we’re often going to need to experience some of that directly. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Teaching Men How To Mate: An Interview With Tucker Max
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: An Army Ranger Interviews A Navy SEAL On Resilience

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4 Things That Are Awesome About Riding A Motorcycle

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Despite the possibility of getting killed by an absentminded undergrad who is Snapchatting herself singing along to the latest hit pop song as she makes a left turn while you’re crossing the intersection, causing you to hit the side of her car at 45MPH, riding a motorcycle is pretty damn sweet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a speed demon going nearly twice the speed limit on a crotch rocket with no intention of pulling over if the cops chase you because if you get one more ticket you’ll get your license suspended…or a grizzled biker covering vast distances on a tight time hack with several of your brothers on cruisers…or a cute liberal chick or skinny gay guy on a Vespa putt-putting about town…the thrill of the ride is incomparable to those who decide to forgo the cage-like safety of the car, even if just for the weekend. Why is that? Because there are many reasons why a rider’s life is way more awesome.

1. Kids Are Crazy About You

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Remember when you were a kid and you would see a motorcycle passing by on the freeway? Maybe your mom would comment on how dangerous they are. You didn’t care because the cool guys on TV rode the shit out of them, wearing badass leather jackets, jeans, and sticking it to the man. You’ll fantasize about being one of those dudes when you got older as you played with your Hot Wheels and always had the motorcycle do insane stunts that defied the laws of physics as it was shooting its machine gun.

Many years down the line, you are at a red light thinking about how much of a total badass you are ’cause you’re finally on a motorcycle. A car pulls up next to you and out of the corner of your eye you see a hand flailing. You look to your right and in the backseat you see a kid seven or eight years old waving at you with a missing-tooth smile. You wave back at him and he starts laughing. You rev the throttle a bit and he goes ape shit from excitement. The light turns green and you speed away.

Kids love motorcycles, plain and simple. Whenever you make appearances to any family event, all the little kids are going to see your bike and want to sit on it. You will be one of the cool grown-ups, not one of those who drives a soul-crushing minivan.

 

2. Chicks Dig You, Too

As much as it may frighten them, few things are more effective at drenching the panties of a female than a man who rides a motorcycle well. It’s not as simple as getting your ass on a bike and going to places where girls hang. First, you must prove that you aren’t some idiot who is going to try to impress her by riding dangerously. You must recognize that riding on the backseat is quite intimate. She is signaling: I trust you with my life. Sadly, a lot of men these days aren’t capable of handling that sort of responsibility.

Also, the seat positioning will have her body in constant contact with yours. Most chicks aren’t willing to do that with whatever chode on two wheels, either. Only after gaining her respect and trust will you be able to get her to take a ride with you. As the ride happens, the breeze in her face, the revving of the engine as you twist the throttle, and the utter freedom of it all will make her lady parts tingly. Don’t forget the vibrations of the engine, too. You’ve displayed your competence as a man.

Riding a motorcycle is not something that can be done by any random dude. Thousands of people—even long-time riders—kill themselves each year on bikes. But the fact that you ride one puts you in the niche class of “bad boy” that nearly every woman has a few sultry fantasies about.

 

3. You Instantly Have A Connection With Fellow Riders

 

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Men form bonds by sharing knowledge and conducting activities together. Riding a motorcycle is one of the manliest hobbies in modern times. A man on a motorcycle represents the images of glory reminiscent of galloping knights and cowboys on horseback—as opposed to the simplicity of driving a cage that requires no more from you other than grabbing your keys and hopping in the driver’s seat.

Mounting your iron steed has the aura of prepping for combat. You look at the weather report and adjust the amount of cold weather gear you’ll need to wear. You put on your vest, grab your helmet, gloves, and glasses. You approach your baby waiting for you in her spot.

“Hello, beautiful,” you say.

You fire her up to warm her up a bit while you don your protective gear. You give her a quick little rev to make sure she purrs all right. She does. Away you go.

If you can relate to this feeling, then you’re a fellow motorcycle rider. You get it; others don’t. That’s why you always have an immediate connection with those who also ride. You’ll make small talk with fellow bikers and make friends with fellow bikers. And at times, you party hard as fuck with fellow bikers.

 

4. There Is No Better Way To Travel

 

MC4

IG: raulfelix275

The world is a gorgeous place. We become immune to the wonder of it all during the routine of our daily lives. Yet when you’re on a motorcycle, you can’t help but notice. You feel everything…the feeling of needles poking your face when you’re riding through rain at 80MPH…the blazing furnace that is Arizona…the smell of countryside…the fresh breeze. Everything, good or bad, is a part of your journey. Back to our primal roots, before the windshield and air-conditioning of the cage shielded us from it all.

I’ve traveled a vast majority the United States at some point or another on my motorcycle. I’ve also ridden it to Mexico and Canada. I rented one for three weeks and traveled the whole of Italy. I had one as my sole means of transportation for a year and half last time I lived in Cali. I ride one now when it’s not snowing or freezing over in Upstate New York.

It’s a wondrous love affair. Every journey feels like an adventure, like that rare lover you can share you life with. Whether to the neighborhood bar to have a beer or across the country, the saddle of a motorcycle puts you closer to the elements and the world.

~Raul Felix

Read:29 Things I Learned By Age 29
Read: The Gay Meth Story
Read: 6 Things I Learned About Israel While Living and Working There

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The Patience Of A Waitress

A little after 2 AM on a Tuesday night I walk into a twenty-four-hour diner. I have just finished a solid writing session where I wrestled with words and harnessed them into decent prose. I find my way to an empty booth and take a seat.

“I’ll be with you in just a moment,” says the waitress as she delivers meals to their tables. It’s quite busy considering it’s a random weekday night. She’s gracefully hustling throughout the restaurant with the utmost efficiency. I look around and notice that she’s the only server.

“Hello, my name is Elizabeth. May I take your drink order while you look at the menu?” she says with a tender smile as she places the menu on the table.

“Sure, I’ll just take a water, please,” I say.

I flip through the pages of the menu and decide on my order. She returns with my water.

“Here’s your water,” she says. “Are you ready to order?”

“Yeah, I would like the club sandwich, please.” As she writes down my order, I notice her black hair has a few streaks of grey in it.

“Would you like regular or seasoned fries?”

“Seasoned please,” I say as I examine the little crow’s feet near her eyes.

“All righty then, I’ll have your order in a few moments.”

She picks up the menu and scurries off to her other duties.

Despite her cheerful demeanor, she looked tired and overworked. She must have been in her mid to late thirties yet possessed more spunk and enthusiasm than a waitress half her age.

I begin to wonder if she has kids and is working at this late hour to provide for them. Maybe she also works at another restaurant and she’s pulling a double.

“That was my mom,” I think to myself.

Twenty-eight years ago: She made the difficult decision to leave me, her only child, with my grandparents in Mexico so she could make the long trek into the United States with the help of a couple of her siblings that blazed the trail a couple of years earlier. She found a nook for herself in their small apartment and then found an employer who was willing to overlook her lack of documentation.

Twenty-four years ago: A few years of waiting tables, long hours, sweat, tears, frustration, broken hearts, and longing for her son to be with her at last. She finally was able to muster enough cash and resources to be able to send off for her niño quierdo. After a daylong bus ride with my grandfather, I awoke to the kisses of my aunt.

“He’s awake,” she exclaimed. “Go get gorda!

Mi baby, mi niño,” my mom cries as she’s kissing and hugging me.

I later throw a tantrum when I find out I’m not going back to Mexico.

Twenty years ago: Her English is spoken with a heavy accent, yet her natural sweetness always shines through. She would become a favorite of her patrons. Her work ethic ensured she got tipped well. Her beauty would have many men competing for her attention. Her only bad habit would be to take a cigarette break. She would drive a beat-up ’75 Camaro to work. Her big heart would have her taking her mother, father, and little sister into an apartment she shared with a friend and her daughter.

Thirteen years ago: I, her sweet boy, turn into a typical spoiled American teenage shithead, ungrateful of the sacrifices she’s made for me to be able to live without serious wants. The long hours she works for me to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, gas in my car, and clothes on my back. She works doubles so I can grow up in a nice city. She confronts an older woman with the wrath of a mama bear when the woman makes not-so-subtle sexual gestures at me. She buys me books, CDs, video games, and a gym membership. She is proud when I get my first job at a fast-food joint. She cries and wonders how she’s failed as a mother when she sees my terrible grades in school.

Six years ago: She gets fired from the restaurant where she spent fifteen years working. A jealous coworker trumps up a reason to get rid of her. Her feet are tired. She no longer desires the headaches caused by cooks who slack on her orders because she won’t date them. She’s annoyed with the cheap patrons who stiff her on tips. She gets a job as a clerk at Chevron. I am freshly out of the Army and I pick her up on my motorcycle and take her on a ride.

“You have really turned into a man, mi amor,” she says as she gives me a kiss on the cheek after our ride.

The lone cook peeks his head through the window as he rings the bell to indicate an order is ready. The waitress delivers it to me without hesitation. I chow down. I ask for my check. I leave her a good-sized tip. I wonder whose mom she is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Ode To La Doña: The Linchpin Of The Mexican Family
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: Four Things Only Mexican-Americans Will Understand

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11 Veterans On How To Succeed After The Military

SPC William Lockwood, 55th Combat Camera

SPC William Lockwood, 55th Combat Camera

The military life has its own protective bubble in a way. You have a steady paycheck, health insurance, and a host of career trajectory options. Retention Non-Commissioned Officers will attempt to scare you into reenlisting by warning you about how hard it is in the real world and the dire condition of the economy. The feeling of finally gaining your freedom back as a civilian can be overwhelming and full of contradictory emotions ranging from full-fledged glee to utter dread when you realize you have no idea what you want to do with your life now that you’ve hung up your uniform for good. Most of the career advice you find never quite feels suited to your unique skill set and experiences. In an effort to pass down some hard-earned knowledge, the following 11 veterans will give you a bit of advice on how to succeed in your post-military career ambitions.

1. Raul Felix, U.S. Army 2005-2009, Writer & Poet

“Realize that most people will not understand that dark sense of humor you may have developed. Be consciously aware of whom you’re talking to and whether or not they can handle a fucked-up joke that may come out of your mouth. Test the waters a bit first; don’t go full-on dead-baby joke after only talking to a person for five minutes.”

2. Jack Murphy, U.S. Army 2002-2010, Editor at SOFREP

“The most important thing I realized when I left the high-octane world of Army Special Operations for the private sector is that you have to learn to be both a soldier and a manager at the same time. That is to say, you no longer have a Team Leader or Squad Leader looking over your shoulder telling you it is time to rest, time to eat, time to go to sleep. That soldier work ethic is critical and gives you an edge over civilians, but you also have to keep in mind that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Besides, you’re not a 19-year old Ranger now. It’s OK to take a vacation, read a book, or play some video games at the end of the day. Otherwise you end up working yourself to death.”

3. VaNiesha Honani, U.S. Navy 1998-2005, Certification Manager

“Job Interviews outside of DOD / Government jobs like Tech Startups: 90% of my interviews outside of DOD and governmental jobs have assumed that because I was in the military—it’s ‘robot do.’ We are only used to instructions and stringent structure with little initiative or innovation. I started cutting them off at the head with a good anecdote (they love hearing the “Once in band camp…’ stories.) that shows how we had to use some innovation in a stressful time. Second thing I point out is we are very adaptable. I’ve won every time by pointing out, ‘Being in the military – I’ve learned you can’t have a 3rd eye and be sensitive about it, adapt and take it with a grain of salt.’ In Tech Startups – you tend to be around some finicky but talented people – not being high maintenance and self sufficient is a dream employee.”

4. Leo Jenkins, U.S. Army 2003-2007, Author of On Assimilation & Lest We Forget

“Leaving shouldn’t mean severing ties. I get it; I wanted nothing to do with the rank and file of the military when I got out. Sadly that meant isolating myself. Guess what, you just served in the most cohesive fraternity in the world. You know the one thing fraternities are actually good for? Networking. You’ve just spent X number of years establishing relationships with people from all over the country. Those people are your best bet at making it in the world. You’re gonna need a job now and I guarantee one your military buddies has a family member looking for an employee who know what responsibility looks like, who can show up on time, and get the job done right, regardless of the raging hang over caused by binge drinking until 4AM. Bottom line, stay in contact with your buddies.”

5. Tyler Gately, U.S. Army 2004-2009, Press Secretary, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

“Come to the realization that when you get out of the military you are starting over professionally. The truth is that your military skills will likely not transfer to a civilian career. Research careers you are interested in and read about how other people got there. Maximize your benefits and intern as much as you can. Internships are the easiest and quickest way to learn what your passion is and more importantly, what it is not.”

6. Brent Ebell, U.S. Army 2001-2007, Professional Cameraman

“Use your past as fuel. Remember all the pain, suffering, humiliation, freezing weather, blistering heat, spit flying in your face as someone screams the most degrading shit at you. Use all of it because people will inevitably doubt you. You will hear phrases like, ‘that’s impossible.’ ‘Can’t be done.’ Or ‘those are pipe dreams.’ All you have to do is look back at what you’ve already survived and overcome. Whenever someone doubts you, look him or her in the eyes and smile, but just think to yourself, ‘Fuck you!’”

7. Glenn Ness, U.S. Army 2004-2015, Student

“Try to get up to college level before you get out so that you aren’t wasting the GI Bill on menial classes. If you know that you are shooting for a high-credit degree, try to pay out of pocket as long as you can before tapping into the GI Bill because a community college now is going to be cheaper than a university in 4 years. Also, stay away from predatory schools. Some for-profit universities design their programs to squeeze every bit of money out of your GI Bill.”

8. Nick Palmisciano, U.S. Army 1994-2003, CEO of Ranger Up

“You know how you look at guys who were high school athletes and all they do is relive those days forever because that’s as good as it ever was for them? Don’t be that guy with your military service. Just like high school athletics should be a stepping stone to greater successes, so should you think of your service. It made you stronger, taught you valuable life lessons, and helped you hone your character. So take that wisdom and find a new mission and get after it, knowing it may suck at first the way basic training did. Your life should always be leaning forward, never anchored to the past. When you lean forward, no matter how hard a year is, at the end of it, you’re a tougher, better, more skilled person than you were before. When you spend all your time looking back, the world keeps changing and you remain still, slowly becoming less useful with each passing moment.”

9. Shannon L. Adams, U.S. Air Force, IAVA Michigan Community Leader

“Find a mentor to help you with the transition that’s recently been there themselves. This can be achieved through your IAVA [Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America] network or a Veteran service organization. We all learned from others’ experiences while in the service, we accepted advice from our peers, our leadership and learned in professional environments (training) to overcome obstacles, to get promoted and to dust ourselves off when we stumbled. Don’t try and do it alone!”

10. Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, U.S. Army 2003-2007, Army Reserves 2007-Present, COO of Article 15 Clothing

“I have two things that really drive me. One is my family. I always imagine them watching me walk across some imaginary stage receiving an award of some sort and just seeing the proud look on their faces….It’s easy to justify giving up to yourself, but when you have to justify failure to your kids, or your father…that’s always more difficult. That thought has gotten me through some of my hardest days in training and in hardship.

I know the only way of making that thought a reality is to work hard toward a goal. Which brings me to my second driving factor….I like to give myself small goals or missions if you will. Once getting out of the military, I felt there was no real direction. I wanted to do something with myself, but unlike some achievements in the military, there is no prebuilt path. So I created these missions and strive every day to achieve them. Something as simple as being a more affectionate dad to something as difficult as getting back in shape. I continue to hold myself accountable for my self-improvement.

By the end of the year I should have, hopefully, become a better person, husband, and father by accomplishing these small missions. This has given me motivation to wake up the next day and keep grinding. Setting these smaller step goals and holding myself accountable to be the man I want to be for my family.”

11. Jarred Taylor, U.S. Air Force 2003-present, President of Article 15 Clothing

“There is no magical career path where you don’t have to put in hard work. Yes the circumstances and definition of ‘hard’ change outside the military, but don’t for one second think it gets easier once your out. Focus that ‘never quit’ and ‘don’t have the option to quit’ attitude when pursuing a civilian career and you will quickly see yourself rise above your peers. Because those that only know an environment where if they don’t like something they can just ‘quit’ don’t have the same drive a military person has.”

~Raul Felix

Read: 4 Things That Security Contractors Love To Spend Their Money On
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: 12 Things Only Veterans Of The Global War On Terrorism Will Understand

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Why Young Men Should Become Cougar Slayers

(c) Sergey Furtaev

(c) Sergey Furtaev

For all their youthful vigor, beauty, and perfectly angled selfies that show off their best assets, most young chicks are a real pain in the ass to deal with. Most of them think that the average young guy is incapable of fulfilling them and haven’t been humbled by reality enough to know what characteristics to truly look for in a man. Also, they’ll elevate a minor problem into full-blown drama and then yap about how they’ve been through a lot (of dick). Regardless, many boys and men will compete for their attention because nothing screams Alpha Male like having a hot 21-year-old with an hourglass figure hanging off your arm. Instead of directly going toe-to-toe with other dudes who have airtight game or higher social value than you in such a fiercely competitive atmosphere, why not change the field you operate in and become a cougar-slayer?

For those of you slow on the uptake, cougars are older, mature women usually 40+ who still look pretty damn good because they’ve taken care of themselves throughout the years. They are not to be confused with spinsters and fat-acceptance twats whose bitterness and sloth has left them with a body that only devouring hundreds of gallons of ice cream while watching romantic comedies compounded over many years can produce.

I learned about the unique prowess of these wonderful creatures by pure luck. When I was in the Army, my unit was constructing a bunch of new barracks and ran out of the room to house all the single soldiers. So they decided to give a bunch of us single dudes who had been there for a while an extra allowance for housing so we could get our own places off-post. The apartment I got for myself was near a bar that catered to a more mature clientele because they often hosted cover bands that played classic rock.

As I began to frequent that bar, something occurred that rarely happened to me: Good-looking women with amazing fake breasts and wild 80s-style glam-rock hair began to flirt with me. At the time, my MO was to hit up the bars, hit on chicks who were in my age range, and get promptly rejected. This would lead to me drinking alcohol in frustration and making another sloppy attempt at convincing a chick to let met touch her lady parts, which led to more severe rejections. Frustration drinking would morph into rage drinking, which would have me falling toward a downward spiral of angst and loneliness that ended with me jerking off to nude pictures of my ex-girlfriend.

A new world opened for me. Instead of constantly having my ego destroyed by 6s or 7s who wanted nothing to do with my goofy Mexican self, I was exchanging witty banter, dancing, making out, and more with cougars who were 8s and 9s in their prime and still looked like total foxes. They loved that I was an eager, muscular, clean-cut Latin 22-year-old with an outgoing personality and quirky smile. I loved their feminine physique, no-bullshit attitude, and ability to hold real conversations. It was the beginning of an infatuation that has maintained my interest until this day.

Why should young men experiment with dating cougars? Because they have an insane amount of knowledge to bequeath upon you to expedite the process of growing into a real man. A lot of these women have been hardened by the real world. They have been married, divorced, have full-fledged careers, and may have a few kids to boot. They don’t have time for the petty games that late-teen and early-twenty-something chicks love to play on the male psyche. When they decide to spend time with you, they mean business. They’re able to stimulate you physically and mentally.

Through your interactions with them, you’ll learn about the mistakes both men and women tend to make as they grow older—from having children before they were truly ready to allowing the romance in the relationship to wane. You’ll be exposed to their lifestyle and see how life can look like for you if you make the right or wrong moves. You’ll learn to interact more intelligently and have deeper conversations with the opposite sex. You’ll have a ton of hands-on experience on pleasing your woman in the sack because most cougars are more than willing to coach you into being a good lover.

You shouldn’t exclusively date cougars, but add them to your repertoire of women you consider dating material. Depending on how successful she is, you’ll be able to catch a taste of the high-class life. You know all those pretty young chicks going to all sorts of fancy, exclusive parties and places on social media? Most of them didn’t pay the bill for that. They got there by dating older men who have already established themselves. It’s tough to compete with that as a young man who is barely starting off in the world.

Don’t think just because you’re with an older woman that you can be a lazy sack of shit. If you’re a broke, sloppy mouth-breather with poor personal hygiene and the inability to hold a conversation, these bitches will shut you down quickly. You’re the young stud—play the part. Have enough money to take her out for drinks, be in good shape, dress nice, and have something of value to say. They are still women, after all. You must spark their interest and gain their trust. If you’re able to do those things, you’ll have more than you fill of cougar love, as opposed to trying to scrounge for a bit of attention from a mediocre chick with an overinflated self-worth because she has 2,000 Instagram followers who bombard her with likes every time she posts a cleavage shot.

~Raul Felix

Read: She Had The Body Of A Greek Goddess
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: 4 Things Women Can Do To Be More Attractive (From A Non-Beta Bitch Male Perspective)

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