The strong man is the one who can take a step back and look at himself as if he were looking at someone else. He stands somewhere off to the side, observing his figure in the cold, fluorescent, clinical light of harsh realism, like he’s observing a science experiment or a dissected animal. Emotions are absent. Rationality is paramount. His heart is of no use; his only asset is his mind.
He assesses the terrain. He thinks about what kind of man he has become, and what kind of man he wants to become. He is familiar with this tension that we all experience, the difference between who he is and who he knows he can be. He knows what steps need to be taken, and he resolves to take them.
But as soon as the decision is made, as soon as he swings into action, his emotions reappear. It’s involuntary, and it’s nearly instantaneous. They whisper evil things into his ear, and they try to run the show. Feelings of doubt, futility, fear, insecurity, boredom, even physical pain start to appear. He procrastinates. He gets distracted. He turns to alcohol, his girlfriend, or an episode of Mad Men. They’re all equally destructive insofar as they prevent him from doing what needs to be done. He looses the focus that he had when he was planning and observing.
The strong man is the one who does not pay any attention to these emotions, who can resist the discomfort of meaningful action. The strong man is the one who thinks deeply about his course of action, taking care to articulate his objective, but knows that once the gears are set into motion, his body and mind are nothing but a machine that has been tasked with performing a set of actions. Like flipping a switch, any trace of uncertainty disappears, and he is on autopilot, dutifully swallowing the pill he prescribed himself with decisiveness and confidence.