If you were to look up “Warrior Poet” on the internet you’d find no concrete definition. What you would find would be a bunch of sales pitches. One of the sacred tenets of my life is being whored out for $24.99, plus shipping and handling. It’s little more than an “Affliction” t-shirt now–a way for people to feel badass without putting forth any of the actual effort to improve themselves.
The same thing happened to the term “Sheepdog.”
Nowadays, all it takes to call yourself a sheepdog is an American flag on your hat, some Oakley M-frames, and a gun you never actually train with.
I shouldn’t be surprised. People always grab ahold of the wonderful things and run away with them like thieving monkeys. And, like the monkey that snatches a granola bar from the hand of a tourist, they will inevitably turn it into shit.
Since there are so few definitions for the term “Warrior Poet,” allow me to posit one:
A person who understands the value of life before going about the business of learning how to take it.
This is not an article about taking life.
This is an article about understanding life.
And if you want to understand life, you actually have to live it.
And when I say “live life,” I’m not talking about some YOLO, Party Boy bullshit, so banish the thought. What I am talking about is being a part of this existence. Contributing to it. Enriching it. And not just for others, although doing kindness for others should always be a part of your life, but also enriching it for yourself.
When I think of the term Warrior Poet, there are still a few people I know personally that come to mind. These people maintain a grim joy in the face of conflict–even in the face of possible death. They have that joy because they understand that violence is a small facet of life. They don’t ignore the possibility of violence–in fact, they are very ready, and they train hard for that possibility. But they don’t obsess over it. They don’t live their life in a dark place, just because darkness is a part of life.
Instead, they live their lives with beauty. They pursue art. They paint. They play instruments. They take cooking classes. They learn how to brew beer. They read–a lot. They write thesis papers that no one ever sees, simply because they are curious about a subject and want to research it. They are always, constantly learning. Constantly educating themselves.
The reality of violent death has not soured them.
Rather, it has made them voracious for life.
And because they understand the full, incomprehensible beauty of this very, very short life, they consider the protection and preservation of it to be sacred.
In the face of a society that actively works to homogenize and specialize and polarize, they stand in the middle of it all. They stand above it all. And they see it all as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts.
These are the true Warrior Poets.
And they are not dead yet.