The Frontiersman.

Red Dead Redemption 2 … arguably the most influential game story I’ve ever experienced.

I never really saw myself as a cowboy, until recently.

It’s odd that I never connected the dots sooner, really.

So much of my personality is very much based around the individual spirit, a self-made man whose stoic nature hides some very real anger.

There is the classic rebellious spirit in me, as well as my perchance for dramatic clothing with plenty of masks and hats to spare.

I also grew up reading a lot of cowboy comics, in particular a series called Cheyenne which remains near and dear to my heart.

And I’ve always proclaimed that the ideal pet for me was a camel.

I suppose I never really linked every aspect of that into a lifestyle known as cowboy.

It’s strange, why I feel like I have such a strong connection with the idea of being a frontiersman only now.

I suppose I am romanticising the idea of freedom. Free to explore and wander to the heart’s content. The idea of every day being the same, but not quite, of always being busy but able to get away from work.

The lifestyle just seems so natural.

So what is it, about the cowboy lifestyle that appeals to me so much?

Let’s start with a deep dive into my rebellious nature.

In all great Westerns, there exists a triumvirate of forces pitched against each other for supremacy over the land.

Cowboys, “Indians” and Civilization.

Cowboys and Indians are opposed to each other, because of a long feud that has resulted in many a misunderstanding and even bond to each other. They both want the land for themselves, to live their way of life in peace.

This common theme, of “being left alone to live one’s life as one see fit” is why they will normally put aside their differences to fight Civilization or Modernity in all its complexity and dominating nature.

Civilization wishes to tame both the Cowboys and Indians. They believe both factions are savage, lawless and unprincipled. The idea of a world without strict rules, punishment and taxes is an aberration to them.

The key difference here is that Civilization wishes to dominate the land, instead of live beside it.

The tragedy of the West, is that with their more antiquated lifestyle and technology and in-fighting, eventually the Cowboys and Indians lose the battle, and the world becomes a bit less natural.

For me, that battle has always been a strange internal conflict.

A big part of why I wanted to join the military, was that I would become a better self-made man, I could learn skills to survive out in the wilderness and be self-sufficient.

But there was always this strange nagging feeling that I wouldn’t fit into the regimental nature of the Army. It’s why I promised myself, if I was to enlist, to get through basic training as quickly as possible and immediately apply for Special Forces, because I liked the idea of having a bit more autonomy.

It took me a while to realise, that I could just be my own made man, with the money I made and teach myself these skills. After all, there was no real reason why I couldn’t teach myself how to survive, how to shoot a gun or cook.

I just had to get out there and pursue it. I just wasn’t getting paid to do so by a government institution. All the money for training had to come out of my own pocket.

But I could keep my rebellious nature intact. I could still live my life the way I saw fit.

It’s why I think, despite holding a deep reverence and love for the military, I doubt I would ever enlist. I’ve put that passion and dream away. I’ve made peace with it and found a new love for a new type of lifestyle that doesn’t involve me yelling “YES SIR” to anyone.

Which is how I prefer it, in all honesty.

A big part of the cowboy etiquette that I love, is that there is a strong sense of respect and honour in hard work and loyalty. They are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, regardless of any wrong-doing that they might have incurred in their lifetime.

I’m very much the same way. I’m an arsehole to everyone. No matter what you’ve done, been through or how you view yourself, I’m the same stubborn sonvuabitch to you, as I am to the person next to you.

But if I see you work hard, I’ll give you my respect.

Respect from me, is something everyone earns. It’s not easily given out, nor is it easily recognisable. I don’t hand out compliments and I sure as shit, don’t like people quickly either.

To unlock the soft gooey part of me takes a certain character and a lot of people fail to get past my ruthless professional demeanour.

Naturally this arrogant attitude to respect, automatically annoys every single older person that I’ve met. Especially the Asian variety, where a huge part of the culture is paying that revverence to older people.

My argument to that is …. last I checked, it wasn’t fucking hard to age. All you have to do is be healthy and you’ll live another year. Hell, you can still be unhealthy and get to see another birthday cake.

So why the hell should I applaud you for doing the bare minimum in life?

Age doesn’t equate to wisdom, nor does it mean I got to salute you and treat you like a superior.


Another crucial aspect of being a cowboy is a reverence for the land. A deep, healthy respect for the environment and being aware of your impact on it.

One of the most interesting facts I learnt, is that when a person sees a dead animal near a fresh water source, you should automatically move it away and ensure the contamination doesn’t spread.

What if there is another one upstream or downstream?

It doesn’t matter. There is an obligation to you and the environment to move it. Thousands of animals and human beings rely on that water source and if it is within your power, you should preserve it.

For some reason, that lesson stuck with me, long after I finished reading the book. It perfectly illustrated the symbiotic relationship that mankind has always had with nature, how we can help the natural world, and co-exist together.

It inspired me, much to my chagrin sometimes, to constantly pick up rubbish when I see it. Bins aren’t normally far away, and I always feel better knowing that I’m doing something to help the environment.

Would I classify myself as a person, particularly passionate about animal rights and the natural world? Hardly.

I’m just very aware of what I can do and what I should do. I have a lot more personal things to worry about. I can’t solve the world’s pollution, nor its change, but I can do a little bit here and there.

I wouldn’t even necessarily say that I am overly fond of animals either. In many ways, unless my lifestyle truly dictate that I need a pet, I’m not in the mood to get one.

Perhaps that is a very workmanlike attitudes towards animals, but it is truly how I feel. I don’t need dogs, unless they help me to hunt or shepherd cattle, neither of which I am currently engaged in.

Nor do I need my ideal animal companions, a falcon and a horse, because I don’t have enough land to support them and I don’t hunt either. I will also say, as an aside to myself, a desire to go on a hunt, doesn’t mean I should invest in both, either.

Being attuned to the needs of the natural world has always been something I’ve longed admired. If asked on which spiritual, quasi religious ideology I would pick, if I had to chose one, my first instinct would undoubtedly be the Native American philosophy.

I’ve always loved the stories about how the natural world came to be, with references to animals and a “Great Spirit” which was always more nebulous and mysterious than the Christian variant. There is something more eerie and wondrous about stories being passed down from elder to elder, knowing that some are more embellished than others, but retaining the same moral and spirit of the tale.

The power of a common “story” is infinitely more believable and touching than a doctrinal, regulated and sanitised tale that has resulted in the most published book in the world. The reason why, is because the human story-teller adds their own humanity to the story, to the myth of creation, instead of a committee than decrees “God” must have created the world in 7 days, to match a work week.

Even as a child, reading and learning through fictional cowboy stories, I felt that sense of wonder and awe for the natural world in those books, which was far more than anything I got out of reading the bible.

In creating a great mystery, you learn to be humble before it, and understand your place better in the world. Man wasn’t put here to control nature, we were designed to help the natural world and be quiet, humble shepherds.


In today’s world, there isn’t really a proper need for a violent man.

We are beyond that now. Less soldier, more warrior-poet.

I can see how much more mentally healthy current soldiers are now. So many of them seem more adjusted to the rigours of warfare. They’re eloquent, philosophical and incredible teachers, especially from the ones I see on social media.

They’re are now more adjusted to civilian life than ever before.

But the possibility of violence is always within everyone.

Which is why I sometimes believe in the power of a fist-fight.

The life of a cowboy is inherently quite masculine. It breeds tough people, for tough times. There’s a practicality and innate roughness to the lifestyle.

Doing such hard work and dealing with the same people day in and out, will bring out emotions that will test anyone, no matter how long their history with the other.

Tempers flare and emotions will run hot.

Violence is just another expression of that.

It’s a language in of itself. Perhaps that is what separates civilized folks and frontiersmen.

Frontier people understand that life is fleeting, that at any time, lighting itself could come down and strike you dead. It’s why they let emotions rule them a bit more.

But the way how they express that emotion is more complex. They can say a lot with a nod, a shared pipe, a quiet moment by the camp-fire or through terse words and grunts. Frontier people can afford this short hand style because almost every interaction they have with other people, is more intimate. Strangers can quickly become friends or enemies, and the group you run with, are your family.

Which is why, for some, violence is just another form of communicating.

Sometimes, you need to beat someone to make them understand.

There’s a strange logic behind it, that I can almost empathize with. Sometimes words aren’t strong enough. There will always be a simmering tension between two men. This friction can quickly boil over to resentment and other bitter emotions.

Especially considering if both parties consider themselves the alpha, and are stubborn and intractable men with difficulty expressing their emotions.

Thus the only recourse to settle differences is with fists.

There have only been 3 occasions in my life where I’ve thrown punches in anger. The first one was exhilarating. The second one was an ass-whopping that I definitely had coming. The latest one was out of fear.

But I’ve never really thrown down in a competitive way, a way to assert dominance over the other. To really show the other man that I’m the boss.

Well, actually … as I am writing this, I remember coming close.

This story I am about to tell you, isn’t really a reference to how much of a cowboy I am, but more an intriguing test of my character that showcases just how much control I have over myself, to not resort to violence.

It is the final hours of the festival. A festival that I’ve suffered through and put together for 6 months.

I’ve been put through the wringer for approximately 96 hours now. My inner rage is what put one foot in front of the other, what fuels my hoarse voice as I bark orders and haul tables with my team. I’m tense but still able to crack foul jokes and maintain a certain light-hearted banter.

After all, the festival is largely a success, but this year, there has been a lot of … incidents that have made me furious that everything did not go perfectly.

Case study 1: Some stupid kid, heartbroken over his breakup at the festival tried to jump 6 metres to the ground. In front of the first aid room. At a height that will only give him a broken leg.

Resolution 1: Security talked him off the ledge and when I got the report, all I could was give a derisive snort. No sympathy, just an exasperated sigh of frustration at the stupidity I have to deal with at this festival.

Case study 2: A ride operator makes a mistake, and a kid falls out of a Zorb ball, into 30 cm high water. He is a bit upset, but is overall fine. The parent however is incensed and starts making a fuss. I’m called over to deal with the situation. I offer the kid a towel, but he’s fine. Just wet. But no, in his father’s eyes, his child nearly drowned, is suffering from hypothermia and threatens legal action. His friend agrees and starts making threats about calling Work Safe down to the festival and shutting the whole thing down.

Resolution 2: I had to spend 1.5 hours with this irate, stubborn moron and his dense chatterbox of a friend, missing the fireworks and my team’s celebration of the new year. In the end, we agree to do absolutely fucking nothing, cos he has no case. He doesn’t thank me, is still rude, is unable to see beyond his own small personality, steals my personal towel because he’s a self-righteous prick and I’m close to punching him in the throat.

Case study 3: An actual pervert somehow manages to slip past security. Now, keep in mind, I’m paying security an extremely hefty fee to look after my festival, so you can imagine my displeasure when I’m the first one to spot this creep in the children’s area. He’s wearing a long coat, with nothing underneath but a pair of speedos and running shoes. The reason why I can spot him, is because he’s holding the coat shut with his hand, but his bare legs keep coming through. And he just got this disturbing look. His hair is greasy, he’s sweating slightly and his movement is erratic. So I follow him, constantly keeping eye contact with him, almost encouraging him to do something, because if he does … I’m going to crash tackle him to the ground and beat the shit out of him.

Resolution 3: It takes security more than 10 minutes to respond to my call and I let them and the police escort the creep out. I’m not particularly happy, because security took way too long to respond and I don’t understand how they let the weirdo in, in the first place.

So with all those case studies in mind, (there were other incidents too), be aware that my mental state isn’t exactly in the mood for any more bullshit.

So imagine to my surprise when I see a complete stranger, a festival attendee just start helping out with the pack-down. At first, I’m too busy coordinating with the food stalls to ensure a safe release. So I don’t pay him any attention. I don’t really think anything of it. It’s almost nice to have random people help us pack up.

But the alarms bell start ringing when I finally catch a breather, and can coordinate my team of volunteers, who number now in the 30s. Keep in mind, that everyone who has worked at the festival, know that I am the event manager. This festival is my baby and mine alone. This is my kingdom and no one will de-throne me. But to the outside world, no-one knows who I am. No-one is aware of my true power over this domain.

I like to keep it that way. I don’t do this sort of work for recognition or fame. I do it, because it’s fun, and I get to have more experiences with my friends.

By now, the team is well aware that during event hours, I am a tense human being. I’m unnecessarily harsh, stressed over the stupidity that surrounds me and am barely holding myself together, tottering on the edge of exhaustion and far too many Red Bulls.

It doesn’t help that when I walk over to my team, I’m holding a crowbar, and scowling.

As I am walking over, I see this stranger bossing my team around. I frown and glare. Who the FUCK is this guy? I walk over to one of my closest friends and ask who is this stranger and why is he barking orders? My friend says he doesn’t know, but he’s an arrogant guy.

I ask a couple more members of my team. They all agree that he’s a bit of a douche, he’s bossy and they doesn’t know where he came from.

The stranger is loading trestle tables into the truck, when I decide to walk up to him. I tell my team that I want the tables placed in a certain way. The stranger disagree with my orders. He tells them to do it his way.

Something inside me snaps. This is the final straw. I’ve had this simmering anger inside of me, raging for the past 48 hours.

“I’m sorry, but who are you?” I ask testily

Me?” says the stranger incredulously. “I’m the boss.”

Everyone has stopped working. They’re all staring at me and the stranger. They can’t really believe what is going on.

You can picture the scene, I’m on the left, dripping in tactical gear, my Formula 1 Red Bull shirt, barely covering the thigh rig that is decked out with knives, cable ties, tape and a radio. My right hand is tightly gripping a crowbar and I’m leaning in close, to make sure I’m hearing everything correctly.

On stage right, the stranger is all casual, a loose white t-shirt, cream shorts and sneakers that are too expensive to work in. He’s defensive, psyching himself up for this argument with me. He’s not going to back down.

Everyone, I can tell, is eager for this showdown. They want me to put this upstart in his place. I’m not going to disappoint.

“You’re the boss?” I repeat. “You’re the boss?” The stranger smiles at me cockily. Without realising, my grip on the crowbar tightens.

No.” I smile tersely. “I’m the boss.”

“No, you’re not.” exclaims the stranger indignantly. “I’m the boss! You can’t tell me what to do!”

“No. I am. If you don’t start backing down,” I threaten, “I’m going to call security and have you escorted off the premises.”

“You can’t be the boss.” says the stranger incredulously. He looks over at the crowd for support but sees none is forthcoming. “I know people! I’ve been working here all weekend!”

I merely raise an eyebrow. “You know people. You’ve been working here all weekend.” I repeat with a smirk.

“Yes! I know P—-! He will vouch for me.”

“No, he won’t.” I coldly reply. “He’ll say the exact same thing. I’m the boss here.”

“What the hell? No! I know him. He’ll vouch for me. He’ll say I’ve been working here for ages. I don’t know who you are, but you’re in trouble if I get him over here.”

I feel the urge to laugh. This little shit has no idea who I am. Who he is fucking with. The man in question is my own father. He has no clue who I am.

“Go ahead. He’s just going to say the same thing I’ve been saying. I’m the one in charge here.”

The stranger runs off and in search of my father. I just shake my head and place the crowbar down in the truck bed. I reach for my radio, exasperated and sick of the shit.

“Security? Hey, I got a festival goer who refuses to leave. Please escort him off the premises.”

“You got it. On my way to you now.”

The stranger comes over, my father in tow. He has a smug smirk on his face. I’m coldly amused.

“This is the guy P—-! He says he’s the boss and that he wants it done his way.”

“Damocles?” asks my father confused. “Yes, he is the boss. Whatever he says, you have to do it his way”

I look at the little twerp with a cold glare and cock my head.

“But … I … who is he to …” stammers the stranger.

“Look, I don’t really know what is going on,” says my father, “but Damocles is the event manager. He is the one in charge here. If you have any issues, you have to talk to him.”

My father walks away and we look at each other.

“Get your gear and leave the premises. Now, or I will have security escort you off.”

The stranger walks away forlornly. He tried to play his shitty hand, but I owed every single fucking card in the deck. He tries to strike up a conversation with my team, but everyone ignores him.

Security arrives and I motion them to the stranger, who waves at us, cockily, whilst I shake my head in disgust.

“What an asshole” I exclaim, before getting the team back into gear again. Moments later, security, reading my body language and tone, call back with news; they’ve deposited his dumb ass in the middle of nowhere, with a long walk to any available public transport.

All I could do was smile and laugh.

Looking back, I am quite surprised that I didn’t thump the bastard. He was cocky, arrogant, rude and incredibly disrespectful. He had the temerity to boss around my team, people who had been on site for 96 hours or more and somehow expected to get treated as one of the squad?

But I knew deep down it wasn’t worth it. People like that, just weren’t worth the jail time or bruised knuckles. The biggest disrespect I could dish out to a guy like that, was to not give him any more of my time.

Despite it all, the huge amount of stress and problems that the festival had thrown my way, this final problem still proved that I wasn’t ready to unleash my inner violent nomad.

Dealing in violence is easy, living with violence isn’t.

Would I ever get into a fight with my friends?

It’s highly unlikely. We’re too gentle. Too reflective and in all honesty, too soft. We don’t have the hard-edge that comes naturally to people who were raised on the frontier.

I mean, my own inclination to fight, is always superseded by my flight instinct. I do my best to prepare for a fight, but really, my first instinct is to slap some cardio on pavement and don’t look back.

I can trust my inner cornered tiger though, to fight incredibly dirty. It’s all I ever known, dirty fighting, which makes violence, as a language to me, difficult to express on a friend or colleague.

Perhaps one day, I’ll actually let my fists to the talking. It’s just hard to comprehend in the context of my own life. I’ve never fought, as a adult, for the joy of fighting. I’ve done a combat sport, but that was still civilised and involved swords, so I don’t really count that.

Perhaps, it’s high time I really invested in Krav Maga classes ….


The final element that I want to talk about is self-reliance and EDC.

EDC (Every Day Carry) is a self-defence and prep philosophy that stemmed from first responders and serving military members, who found themselves in risky situations when out of uniform.

Granted, Melbourne isn’t known for its high crime rate or home to a vast majority of organised crime, but I still engage in EDC anyway.

As you are probably aware, before I walk out of the house, I always perpetually have on my hip, a Pelican torch, a Leatherman Skeletool, a tourniquet and my latest acquisition, a Leatherman Raptor Medical Shears.

I am First Aid trained, and regularly brush up on my knowledge. At first, like every military obsessed fanatic, I saw my tools as a way to defend myself.

I would practice de-escalation techniques, with clear eye contact, open hands and a gentle but firm tone of voice. If things went bad, my right hand would drop to my hip and draw my torch out, blinding them, before sprinting away.

If somehow flight wasn’t an option, I would use the torch in a two high combo. I would activate the strobe effect, before delivering a uppercut with the torch.

And if somehow combat was now the only way out, the Leatherman Skeletool would come out as a last resort, and the knife would be slashing at any tendon it could find.

A torn Achilles’ tendon would make for a difficult pursuit.

But in reality, whilst I have rehearsed many of these moves, practiced and prepared myself mentally for these occasions thousands of times, my tools are just that … tools that I actually use every day.

With the small arsenal on my belt, I can help people find items they’ve lost, scan my surroundings, fix screws that have come loose, cut paper or simply hammer down an annoying item.

And it’s that self reliance, that ability to problem solve whenever the occasion arises that make me think of a cowboy attitude to life. No matter the obstacle, with the resources at hand, you can get by with ease.

You’re always ready, because you never know what might pop up. It could be a small problem like taking apart a light with your Skeletool or facing down a drug-addled lunatic who is shouting paranoid nonsense at you.

Either way, it pays to have certain items on hand at all time, and it pays to always be situationally aware.


I don’t want to rattle anyone bones here. I’m not making some bold claim, that I’m a genuine cowboy, that I can ride, lasso, shoot and punch my way out of anything.

In fact, I’m pretty certain, I look quite naff with a cowboy hat on, despite buying one. After all, try as I might, I can’t disguise the fact that I have never ridden a horse and that is enough to sink me.

So Damocles, I hear you ask, what was the point of this ridiculous 4000 word blog post?

The point is that I am identifying elements behind the mythological cowboy that I wish to emulate, adopt or merely note the similarities between myself and the idea of a frontiersman.

After all, even after all this time writing, I am still not quite sure what type of man I want to be.

I have so many ideas about what it means to be a man, that even just one of those, needs this ridiculous 4000 word diatribe about how I identify with the tenets of it.

I suppose, at the end of the day, I admire the idea behind the cowboy, but I’ll never really become one, despite my desire to dress, behave and act like one.

I’m too busy trying to work out my other passions into the whole persona of Damocles.

Because at the end of the day, even I don’t know the full extent of myself.

I’m still searching like everyone else.

This cowboy phase will soon be regulated next to the ranks of racer, fencer, reader, urbex explorer, event manager, shooter, and all round trouble-shooter.

God, I really need to rein myself in.

~ Damocles.

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