What Are You Prepared To Do?

“What are you prepared to do?” was the rhetorical question posed to Eliot Ness by the Sean Connery cop character named Malone in the 1987 film The Untouchables.  I recently had occasion to wonder about this same question myself.  Let me explain.

A few weeks ago I met a friend of mine at a boteco in the Leme district of Rio.  He’s an expatriate who operates a motorcycle touring business and knows a few interesting characters, the types of Joseph Conrad-esque people who always seem to wash up on the shores of foreign lands, for one reason or another.  My conversations with people that night stayed with me for some time.

I first spoke to a couple of Syrian civil war refugees from Aleppo, both only 19 years old and working as waiters in local restaurants, who had been forced to leave their country and had experienced untold hardships along the way.  These guys carried themselves with such dignity and composure that I could not help but admire them.  They had guts aplenty.  They were living proof of the adage that, although courage may not be the only virtue, it is the one virtue without which all the other ones become meaningless.

The most memorable conversation that night was with an intense Swede.  He talked about some of local adventures.  I have to admit that my previous contacts with Scandinavian men had not exactly inspired confidence in their abilities as risk-taking swashbucklers.  But this guy was different.  He had that weird glint in his eye, the type of look that only comes with having seen or experienced something beyond.  What do I mean by beyond?  Well, just beyond.  It turned out that this dude was a hard-core snake-eater, the type of guy of whom old Charles XII of Sweden would have been proud.  He related to me the following story.

One night, he had gotten the phone number of one hot Brazilian girl (who was definitely into him) at a club and had entered it into his cell phone.  In the early hours of the next morning, making his way along Rua Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, he was confronted by a street thug who approached him quickly and pressed a metallic object against his ribs.  The Portuguese dialogue went something like this:

“Give me the phone and your money, you son of a bitch”.

“No.  I’m not going to give you my phone.  I’ve got some money and you can have that, but I need my phone because I’ve got a girl’s number in it.”

“Listen you stupid bitch, I’m going to kill you.  I don’t fucking care about your phone numbers.  I’m hungry.  Give me the phone and the money”.


The thug hesitated, realizing the interaction had entered uncharted territory.

“I’m going to kill you”.

“Well, I have 60 rials.  That’s all I’m willing to do.  Here it is.  Take it and go.”

The thug, flustered and not knowing quite how to handle the situation, took the money and scuttled away.  The Swede ended up calling the girl and turning it into a successful short term relationship.  He had persevered and won.  On the subway ride back home that night, I could not get this little drama out of my mind and what, if any, lesson might be learned from it.  Now, I am not advising that anyone should be a reckless fool, or plunge stupidly into dangerous situations.  Truth be told, I would almost certainly have chosen discretion as the better part of valor in that situation.

But I do think there is a lesson here.  In life, there are times when we must face serious danger, and take serious risk, if we want to push “beyond” and acquire that special glint in our eyes.  That special glint that others will sense, but never fully experience for themselves.  This guy was willing to face serious injury (or worse) for the sake of his goal, which was closing the deal with this girl.  Regardless whether you agree with his priorities, the lesson still remains:  if you are not constantly looking for ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will not triumph.

Rua Nossa Senhora de Copacabana

Whether in business, life, or love, physical courage is paramount.  Condition your body to become accustomed to physical discomfort and pain.  Learn how to take physical hits.  Know what your blood tastes like.  Slash and hack away at your fears, as Hercules sliced the heads off the multi-headed Hydra, and cauterize that Hydra’s bloody stumps, as he did, so that new fears do not grow anew.  Do not listen to the little voice in your head which tells you to retreat into your cushy comfort zone.  I say that sometimes in life, we must throw out our grappling hooks, board that enemy vessel, draw our cutlasses from their scabbards, and fight with grim fury.  And if you are not prepared to do this, you will not be successful.  How far are you prepared to go?

Read More:  The Shortness Of Life

30 thoughts on “What Are You Prepared To Do?”

    1. An interesting side-note is that I’ve met many northern Europeans/Nordic types in Brazil who all had that “I’m-going-to-land-a-woman-or-die-trying” ethic stamped on their psyches. It made me wonder just how bad things must be in Scandinavia for these guys to be thinking like this. I guess it really is that bad there….”Don’t Bang Denmark”? Absolutely right.

      1. It is pretty bad there. Also, we’re descendants of vikings. Vikings not only did not fear dying in battle, but thought of it as the only honorable way to go. Some of that is still left in some of us.

        1. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I want you guys to resurrect the old berzerker spirit, brother. The Norse considered it an honor to die for their king, swinging their terrifying war-axes. They colonized Russia, Greenland, maybe even North America. What the hell happened to that spirit? I know there are glimmerings there. When I was in Bosnia in 2000, I worked with a unit of the Norweigan Army, and they were fantastic…inspiring, really. I think political correctness and 50 years of going soft under the American Empire’s protective umbrella has had a deleterious effect on the masculine ethic. More strife is needed…more struggle.
          Saw Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie “Valhalla Rising” a few days ago…check that out if you haven’t already.

        2. I think one of the main reasons things are as they are today is masculinity is often too costly unless there’s a good use for it. All that lust for blood and war just isn’t cost effective these days, gays, metros and women are better at doing most of the stagnant, boring and peaceful stuff. But there are still some isolated pockets left where us viking remnants can come to our right 🙂 Still I think you shouldn’t underestimate the need for masculinity in a lot of areas that aren’t directly related to killing or muscle, like creativity, risk taking, leadership and managing stressful situations. And thanks for the movie tip, bro!

  1. I wouldn’t put my life at risk for one damn flakey chick number… He should have got stabbed and then flaked on, then he would have learnt a valuable lesson

    1. I feel as if that isn’t truly the message of that story. It’s more about staying completely fearless in dangerous situations. About being secure in being yourself no matter what. He could have given everything up or get aggressive and give nothing up. Instead he acting as if he wasn’t even being robbed. It was like the thug was a beggar and he was doing him a favor. He reframed the situation to make it appear as if he was actually in control of the situation.

  2. I agree that one number isn’t worth the risk, but I still praise the guy. That’s a hell of a story.
    We should all aspire to be that brave. Just not over a potential flaky phone number.

  3. We must develop an attitude of fearlessness. Lao Tzu said “He who has conquered the fear of death can achieve anything”.
    What are you prepared to do to achieve your goals? Are you ready to die for it?

    1. Died once. Best friend died three tiems per doctor’s reports.
      So many people are not only afraid of death, but even afraid of a moment’s discomfort…
      We need to make MORE violence, make people TOUGHER. We cannot afford to have milksops and pantywaists running the country. We will dissolve.

      1. Yea, most American are such complete fucking pussies and cowards. America has gotten very soft, and thus it will collapse soon.

  4. The chick’s number isn’t the moral of the story.
    It’s standing up to some punk and getting through adversity. If you don’t fear death…then you begin to live.

  5. There is a fine line between foolishness and daring. All true men walk this line.
    I think one of the great tragedies of the 20th century is the rise of restrictions on the carrying of weapons.
    My grandfather was a Marine, a Judo expert and he carried a .25 caliber pistol in his back pocket at all times. When he was a boy during the depression, he slept with a 1911 under his pillow. He was also a hard drinking, womanizing bigot with a stable of Jaguars… but that isn’t the point. People used to say “chivalry is not dead.” They did not understand that chivalry is not just about opening doors for women but killing anyone who dares challenge your manhood.
    American men should not give an inch further on this divine right or we will end up like this Swede in Brazil, relying on sheer bravado to keep our property. It should be America’s policy to export the right to bear arms throughout the world, by force if necessary, to ensure men can stand tall.
    Where I live the right to carry a concealed firearm is restricted, but you can carry one openly with few exceptions. I encourage all Americans to know their local laws regarding these issues and make the choice that is right for them. You can learn your local laws at nraila.org – gun laws – state gun laws.

    1. Amerika is exporting feminisim, feminization of men, and REMOVAL of weapons from all populaces.
      ESPECIALLY now – Our HNIC intends to remove the Second Amendment from the Constitution through executive order. The intent is to enslave us all.
      And you think these c*nts would actually suggest people go ARMED? Only the Elite must be protected from us Rabble.
      (The question was asked of Bloomberg point blank, BTW; Feinstein and Biden both have said they intend to ban all private ownership of guns. And we pay mroe taxes than the colonists did. I wish there were a few people with balls to go have a “talk” with our elites. Instead, we civilized people try to send faxes, emails, letters to our representatives; then we vote them in, or vote in a different shill – and expect a different result. There will be no voting or debating or discussing our way out of this – “THEY,” these Sacred Elite and their thugs in blue and alphabet agencies, will NEVER allow men to be free, if they can stop us. Relocation will not be an option much longer. But even Patriot organizations are still writing letters, asking for our leaders to uphold the Constitution, to uphold their oaths – and then backing down from “Don’t cross this line.” NO. BALLS. Unwilling to shed any blood. DOMESTICATED. We wolves will have to pull the flock along by the short and curlies, and they won’t like it. But the alternative is death anyway. I WISH people would connect the f*cking dots already. GMO +control of agriculture + control of water + control of currency + molding the young minds into socialist constructs + planned economic crisis and devaluation of the dollar + too much wealth to being with + UN arms treaty + Executive Orders (unConstitutional) + 2 BILLION rounds of ammo purchased by DHS + illegal TSA + illegal search and seizure + asset forfeiture + no-knock warrants & “qualified Immunity” + judicial activism & voiding the concept of Jury nullification + race hucksterism + declaring our VETERANS to be automatically unfit to carry guns or have permits for same? Can no one see the direction at all? Serfs were forbidden weapons as well; are we to be slaves once again? Are we all pussies? Will we stay divided against each other, instead of cutting the heads off the Hydra? Monsanto et al; Schering et al; Tri-Lateral et al; Bilderbergs et al; and finally, police and bureaucrats. These must be pruned at the very least. There doesn’t NEED to be a conspiracy – I can hear the screams of conspiracy theorist already – their interests are aligned, they all want domination, and we are ALL targeted for culling. Just an occasional phone call from one to another will do it. Or an email. Or a meeting. This is what we’ll be doing this year – what will you do OK, we’re well aligned in direction, let’s see how it works out. We increase market share, push through a few laws blocking competition, spin it as “helping the little guy,” or “Offering better quality,” or “increasing diversity,” or “for the Children.” “The public / great unwashed LOVE that shit…” )
      Doesn’t anyone ever look out the window? Read the headlines? Realize that only by resisting what is wrong can we ever make things right?

  6. I like the story of Eddie Lampert who owns Sears. He was kidnapped and held for some time before persuading his kidnappers to give let him go. Some marketer he must be!

  7. love the themes of your writings If you could have one day, or a thousand irrelevant days without consequence … which would you chose? Always the exceptional – always. a fear of death is not a love of life

  8. Don’t you worry, things are brewing among the Swedish men. Especially among the younger ones, just wait and see.

      1. If we were writing in Portuguese, the singular form of the noun for this unit of currency would be “real” and the plural form “reais”. But we are writing in English here and the spelling used is properly given. “Rial” and its plural form “rials” are accepted anglicizations for this historical unit of currency, which has its origins in old Europe. Please see the entry for “rial” in the Oxford English Dictionary, which traces the history of this word and has many illustrative quotations.

  9. Weapons are powerful but not THAT powerful. A stab or slash is not the end of the world. It is our own weakness and ozean seized comfort zone, that makes us surrender to even the slightest danger, should we ever face one in life.

    1. …learning bravery from an English Lit class? It doesn’t take much to get dead and staring at the business end of a hungry brazilian is a stupid place to try to prove a point. …get a new phone, find another hooker, get home with no additional holes.

      1. Wrong. You just need to know WTF you’re doing. And be willing to bleed a little.
        and make him bleed a LOT.
        I agree with your red-herring, though, the phone number probably wasn’t worth it. But it’s just as easy to take a blade out as the phone, and you pin the knife hand in close, you’ll be able to keep fairly safe, while delivering a killing blow. Or, you can fend off the blade, take a hit, and then fight the MFer.
        And overall: The lesson about the strong frame, forcing the question of, ” Is it worth fighting over?”… Well, I would lose; so would you – but he kept his head, and made the mugger rethink the whole thing. That strength of conviction is terrifying to most people – they don’t understand it, they’re sheep.
        I’m a brutalized sheep trying to shed that skin.
        Sounds like you’re a sheep, with the English Lit reference.
        And BTW: Stab is worse than slash. Penetration of the body kills. Slashes, untreated, you will get infections and potentially bleed out. Stabs to kidneys, liver, lungs, heart? Dead without immediate medical work. The Romans knew how to handle the Gladius, and use a shield – they conquered most of the known world that way. Prior to them, Greek Hoplites were the most fearsome formation. And the British Redcoats marched in the “square,” for similar reasons: All set to fire outward on any front. Use volleys of fire to wear down the opponent.
        We live in a dangerous world, even with the Nanny (Mommy) State rules. We need MORE danger as men; women always seek “safety”, without understanding how it is created. That’s part of the original decline of Rome, Greece, and British and US empires. Check how government spending increased in the US – shot through the roof following women’s franchise. And they had, and mostly have, NO skin in the game… Recipe for hell.
        I’d rather die on my feet. Being dead once already, knowing I’m headed to Hell, and that it’s a real place… I’m not anxious to get there anytime soon. But I won’t allow Hell to come to earth, either.
        You should decide what you’ll alliw – what you are prepared to do – will you kill women and children to achieve your goals? Or will you walk 1,000 miles out of the way to ensure their safety? You could die either way – so choose, and stick to it.

        1. You’re an inside-dog. Save your cinematic version of knife fighting for your nephew. For maybe a few people who read here, playing a game where the stakes are your life isn’t some discussion topic, its day-to-day business for a good portion of our lives. Until you’ve burned somebody down or actually stepped over dead women and kids to round up some asshole on some mysterious “wanted” list, you might keep that big talk to yourself. Its easy as fuck to get dead, and you might be fine with betting your life against a cell phone, but I doubt your family or friends want to remember you as the dumb fuck that got himself killed while trying to kung-fu his way out of a robbery.

  10. Neither the phone nor the chick were worth risking death. But, if a man has a red line which must not be crossed, other men can tell.
    After a man has stared death in the face, and told death to fuck off; it changes him; and other men can tell.

  11. Quintus bro I’m in Brazil too. Meet me on Wednesday night midnight at Largo do Machado near the church in the back for a showdown. I’ll show you who’s the real man and who’s the bitch if you want an adventure.

Comments are closed.