BEING ALL I COULD BE, THE ARMY OF ONE - FORGET THE MATRIX, NEO WAS A POSER : JIM ERWIN

Jim Erwin

The popular 1999 movie The Matrix was centered on the so-called “savior” of the human race, whose unique powers made him “The One” responsible for fighting machines that had enslaved the human race. The surviving humans all rallied around Neo (The One), who didn’t believe that he was actually capable of even saving himself, much less the entire human race. It wasn’t until Neo miraculously found himself with the ability to stop bullets in mid-air that he began to believe in himself.

NEO WAS A POSER

The Matrix tried to make Neo into some sort of heroic figure, but the reality is that he was nothing more than a poser. It isn’t bravery when you can simply prevent all potential threats from harming you through will alone. Neo was brave in the same way that a child is brave for fighting imaginary enemies that can’t actually do any harm.

Of course, when I was younger I thought I was invincible as well. Growing up I spent most of my time going on adventures in the Northern California wilderness, often hiking the Sierra Nevada with my friends. Back then, we used whatever gear we could find (if we had any at all), and we relied on our youthful resilience – and a healthy dose of naivety – to survive.

THE ARMED FORCES CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE

It’s one thing to cut corners when you’re camping in Northern California. It’s a different thing altogether to conduct high-risk ops for the Rangers and Delta.

Back in 1989, I had just finished my military training, and I was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion. I worked my butt off, and eventually was put in charge of an elite four-man special operations sniper team. While out on operations, I learned firsthand the importance of high-quality gear, and how even the most minor failure of our gear could mean that I and everyone in my team could windup dead.

Eventually, I joined Delta Force, where both my gear and every fiber in my body would be put to the ultimate stress test.

I’ll tell you something. The military hot zones (like Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan) are nothing like the Sierra Nevadas (seems obvious, right?). Out there, letting your guard down didn’t mean a slip and a fall; it meant death, or even months or years being tortured by an enemy that would happily spit on the Geneva Conventions if given the opportunity.

During the brief moments of reflection I found during operations, I would think back to the innocence and naivety of youth, when I thought there was no way to push my body too hard, and I put little value on the quality of gear I took with me. However, after 25 years of conducting high-threat operations I have a very real respect, both for the limitations of my body, and, even more critically, on the importance of the gear that I quite literally trust my life to.

ARC’TERYX LEAF GEAR RESET THE BAR ON OPERATION GEAR

In the Rangers and in Delta Force, you quickly learn the difference between gear that is respected, and the gear that is best left for the “weekend warriors”. There were no weekend warriors in my Ranger Squad or in Delta Force, and I gained an appreciation for the type of high-quality gear that the true professionals rely on.

That’s why I’ve come to appreciate the quality and value of Arc’teryx LEAF gear.


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