I suspect we all like the idea of becoming a hero. I just finished reading a great book called Natural Born Heroes by Chris McDougall
I can’t start a post about Heroism without giving you the chance to listen to the incredible David Bowie.
This is a wide ranging tale based mainly around the wartime exploits of someone called Patrick Leigh Fermor.
I had come across Leigh Fermor as a travel writer before. And I had read three of his books, all of which are beautifully written and very engaging.
- Letters from The Andes,
- Between the woods and the water
- And A time of gifts.
What I hadn’t realised is quite how extraordinary his wartime exploits were. Together with the Cretan resistance he and another English officer masterminded a plan to kidnap the German general in charge of the island.
It is a mesmerising tale and was made into a movie back in the 50’s starring Dirk Bogarde as Leigh Fermor.
Natural Born Heroes is more than just this incredible story of enormous bravery and derring do. It is far ranging and looks at what it is that helped make the Cretan Resistance so formidable.
Hitler needed Crete as a staging post for his attacks on Russia. By this stage he had stormed through nine countries, with next to no civilian resistance. Crete was to be different. Here the shepherds, priests and pretty much anyone else who could move poured out of their homes to do their utmost to repel the German invaders. They very nearly succeeded, despite being heavily out numbered and outgunned.
What was it that made these Cretans so formidable? McDougall does a good job of answering this, along with many interesting diversions along the way.
So along with Greek mythology and heroism we touch on the foundations of Parkour, the lost works of Georges Hebert and the works of Phil Maffetone.
One thing I find interesting is how in his earlier book, Born to Run he extolls the virtues of the Talamahara and their very carbohydrate diet, here he talks about the Cretans and their very low carb diet.
As the Cretans have a significantly higher lifespan than the Talamahara an easy conclusion to make is that high carbs are bad!
And certainly this is what Maffetone teaches. Indeed he has put together a 2 week long carbohydrate intolerance test – which I was inspired to start today based on what I read in Natural Born Heroes and what others have also suggested.
It will be an interesting challenge. If you read yesterday’s post or possibly other posts on my blog you will know that I have spoken about Coach.me. I have set up a challenge on there that I want to track, so you can come and join me if you like!
Sadly going without sugar for two weeks won’t make me a hero, although it will be a challenge. In McDougalls book he talks about the traditional three pillars of heroism: Paidea, Arête and Xenia or Skill, Strength and Passion. I suspect that going without sugar for two weeks probably comes under Paidea/Strength. I know that I will be impressed with the strength of my will when I manage to stop eating it for two weeks!
Anyway let me know what you think? Are you a hero?
And I finish this post with the great motto of George Hebert: “Be strong to be useful”. I think many of us need to figure out ways to be more useful!