“The path of the Warrior is lifelong, and mastery is often simply staying on the path.”
Pop-culture often makes a big deal of “The Warrior Path,” making it seem that the apprentice fighter must walk over coals, survive in the wilderness with just their wits, defeat hordes of faceless enemies, and stand on poles for days while reciting complex katas.
And while extreme challenges will confront the hopeful fighter from time to time, these are not the “pass/fail” tests they seem to be. Victory doesn’t guarantee some sort of magical “leveling up,” and failure doesn’t mean much of anything other than just a good opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes.
If anything, the novelty of these challenges is a respite from the otherwise tedious practice of simply putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade.
The true challenge, really, is maintaining the commitment to staying on the path through those long patches in between the tests: the repetitive practices, the inevitable minor injuries, and the allure of more instantly gratifying activities.
Mastery is simply staying on the path.