“I’ve always hated practicing. But that’s how you get to be better. That’s how you become smarter and tougher than the people who will want to harm you.”
– Borbador, The Autumn Republic
By Brian McClellan
I’m not sure there’s much I can add to this quote. McClellan seems to have a tendency to write pretty fleshed-out things for me to quote.
In Bo’s case – that’s short for “Borbador,” fyi – he is a very powerful young man. He is powerful because he has a wide range of experiences, most of them ranging from tragic to horrific, to draw from as he wields his tremendous magical strength. He is mighty indeed, but he certainly didn’t start out that way. No, everything he can do, every tool he has, has been hardened and sharpened on the forge of his life. Not least among his strengths is a controlled discipline which belies his rather undisciplined demeanor. He gained his power, and his skill, through relentless toil and hardship, not least of which is how he practiced. And his goal is simple: to live as he wants, to destroy those who would hurt him, and to protect those who have protected him.
What he means in this quote is that nobody’s strength simply comes to them. Nobody is automatically strong, no matter how we might think they are. When someone or something threatens, if we have not prepared, through long hours of practice beforehand, we are less strong than we could be, and therefore we are more vulnerable.
Strength is the means to endure whatever comes, and strength is built, not born.
Now, there is one thing I want to add: it’s not all about conflict. Practice, improvement, discipline, these aren’t all about becoming better or stronger than others. I see them as the means to become better, stronger, and smarter than our previous selves. There may come a time when what we build within ourselves will be useful to us and those around us. It might be, as Bo suggests, when someone is trying to hurt us, and we must defend ourselves. But it might also be something less violent, some means by which we are able to make others smile when they’re at a low point in life. It might be that whatever we do will help someone stand up after they’ve been knocked down.
Whatever it is that we do at any given moment, it is built on everything we’ve previously done in our lives. To be ready for the moment requires lifelong practice.