How To Learn Like A Viking

I am guessing that some of the Viking skills were learned the hard way.  Kill or be killed. Considering their seafaring abilities though, I would have to assume that there was some form of skilled training.  I mean, did they pick a guy to be a ship builder, and then find out at sea that he was probably a better cook?

 

Scholarly Pursuits:

  • Dad Scholarly Pursuits:  I am a guy who graduated high school while successfully completing honors level classes and by all accounts, should have gone on to university and graduated with a degree.  Problem is, I had no idea of what it was that I wanted to do, and I couldn’t see the value in attending classes just because I had to do them to get them out of the way.  So, I entered working world without a degree, started making money, and that was that.  I have actually progressed my career pretty far, considering I do not have a degree, but it has held me back at certain points, and will most likely limit my upward reaching capability in my current field.  That being said, I have a hard time agreeing to pay what it costs to get a degree, just so I can complete a formality for something I am already skilled and capable enough to do.  So, if I really want to think about my own scholarly pursuits, it is probably more of a “free” pursuit, limited to minimal costs for either books or on-line courses, or even local skills training.
  • Viking Scholarly Pursuits:  I am not sure if there were scholarly pursuits of the Vikings, per se, but I would imagine that there were at least members of the group who learned via the elders on matters regarding healing, etc.  I mean, if you look at the engineering of their long boats that were used to sail the rough North Sea, there had to be some manner of passing down precise details.  Add in their navigation capabilities, and even perhaps their battle tactics, and the picture quickly becomes clear that there were advances and specialties that the Vikings held in comparison to their enemies, that were not just luck of the draw or handed down by the Gods.  Maybe they didn’t follow our now traditional manner of attending a university to learn a skill and get a degree, and then move into the world to either utilize those skills, or flip burgers (I’m looking at you, liberal arts).  So, maybe the most clear way of defining the “scholarly pursuits” of the Vikings, is to say that they learned how to do things better through trials and hardship, so that their life might become better.  I think I could focus on that without having to go back to college.

What are your scholarly pursuits?  University?  Tech school?  Online? Or, good old fashioned grit and perseverance?  Share in the comments section.

Hagar or Ragnar?

If you are a regular reader of Hagar The Horrible, you have a pretty good idea of what Viking family life was like.  Happy go lucky Viking Leader Dad, stern Viking Mom, lovable rascal of a Viking Son, and a hot Viking daughter.  At least, that seems like the gist of their roles in the Viking family unit.

If, on the other hand, you look at Ragnar Lothbrok, from the TV show Vikings, you get a bit of a more complex view at the Viking family unit.  Multiple wives, children by both, or more importantly, sons by both.  Add in the acts of raiding, leading, following, negotiating, exploring, learning, and taking vengeance when needed, then the character becomes more three dimensional than Hagar.  Fatherhood and raiding aside, there is a vast difference between bumbling Hagar and calculating Ragnar, which is one reason why there are multiple Instagram accounts dedicated to Ragnar…and none to Hagar, my guess.

Family Life:

  • Dad Family Life:  I have a wonderful wife, a very young son, and a strained relationship with my own father.  I know how I was raised, and for the most part, I was raised well.  There are areas that I wish would have been better.  I see what I deem as failures between my Dad and I’s relationship, and I am desperate to not repeat them with my own son.  I am a bit of a homebody when at home, but love getting out and exploring new things when away from home (like in vacation).  I am filled with wanderlust most days, and look forward to sharing this world with my wife and son as he grows older.  I want to teach my son, instill great qualities in my son, encourage that spark of curiosity and drive to explore.  I want him to be better than me.
  • Viking Family Life:  Considering the general view on lack of morals of the Vikings (raping, pillaging, killing, etc.), their society was actually somewhat egalitarian when it came to relationships between the sexes of the natives.  Slavery is the definite check mark against their society morals, but women did have more of an equal standing with the men, in comparison to some of the other prominent civilizations at that time.  The family was typically raised in a communal setting, which meant close interaction with others, and more importantly, shared consequences.

Did Vikings Use Ladders?

What did the ladder say to the Step Ladder?  “You’re not my real father!”  Hahahaha….ahhhh.  I kid, but seriously, why is a ladder so often used when referring to advancement in one’s career?  Because you start at the bottom and move your way up toward your goal.  I/m sure that Vikings must have used ladders for storming castles and such, but I wonder how they considered their own “career” advancement?

Career:

  • Dad Career:  I have been in the same field for a little over 18 years.  The career has been lucrative, but also stressful at times, and I find that I am losing interest.  My drive to rise through the ranks has been lost.  This could partially be because I am feeling a little lost at this time in my life and career (middle age crisis?), or because I just don’t feel challenged.  Either way, it definitely isn’t the love of my life, as far as skills to get paid money for goes.  I view myself as a creative, and my current career just feels like I am filling time until I die.  So, yeah…may be time to do something different.
  • Viking Career:  I don’t believe that Vikings, or at least the Vikings we think of, had “careers” so to speak.  I am sure that some of them had skills that they excelled at, such as metalsmithing, or farming, or ship building.  But the Vikings I am most interested in, historically factual or not, were the ones who raided, who explored, who took what they wanted and brought the spoils home.  It could be said that maybe they preferred to be home weaving on a loom, but raiding is what brought wealth to them and their family, but I also think that to them, raiding and fighting and conquering is what made the Gods happy, so to speak.  Living a good Viking life was critical to making it into Valhalla.  Challenging yourself in life or death situations was one way of living the good Viking life.

Rich Like A Viking

One would assume that the Vikings got rich off of pillaging, stealing the good stuff, selling slaves.  And one would be correct, at least partially.  They were also great traders, producing items in their neck of the woods (like iron) and then trading it with other settlements, either in the North Lands or as far south as Northern Africa.  They diversified.  Which is something I am looking to do.

Wealth:

  • Dad Wealth:  Finances are okay, but they could definitely be better.  I think that comfort (and I’m not talking “Ferrari comfort”, more like “the electricity should stay on all month comfort”) can be placating enough to kill the drive to accomplish more.  I am an avowed capitalist, but not someone who puts everything else in my life behind the attainment of 3 more zeros and a n extra comma in my bank statement balance.  I have an urge to do more than what I am currently doing in my area of work at the moment, so improvement of finances is something that would seriously assist that possibility of doing what I love.  I need to diversify, like the Vikings.
  • Viking Wealth:  The communities were generally working together to gain wealth for their area leader, wealth that they shared in, through community feasts, support, and also, the actual spoils of the raids that they may have performed.  Most of them also farmed or raised animals or fished to get food, supplies, or money.  One of their reasons for heading to the West to raid, was because they were tired of raiding local areas where the people were just as poor as them.  The yearning for more land, land that could be farmed, was also a big driver.  Short of being an Earl or some other form of chieftain,  the only way that an individual could increase their wealth was through raiding rich areas, increasing their land area, or travelling further distances and trading with distant cultures.

Any other ideas on how the Vikings had the right idea when it came to growing wealth?  Please share them in the comments below!

 

The Viking Life And Where I Am Lacking

Taken at face value, most people would think that the Vikings were ruthless, villainous, blood thirsty raiders who pillaged, killed, raped, and destroyed whatever they wanted, when they wanted.  This general view has been re-painted time and time again through movies, television, and even comic form (Hagar The Horrible, anyone?).  However, as we definitely know from our current time in history, the story is always told by the victors.  So, I wonder how much of the story of the Vikings is historically accurate, and how much of it has been propaganda from the victors (religions, empires, or time itself)?

If I had to guess, which is something I excel at, I would say that they were a people who lived in a tough part of the world, and they had the courage (and/or need) to explore other areas and take what was required to supplement what they were not able to get at home.  They wanted to provide for their families.  They wanted to live a good life that would make their Gods proud.  They wanted to be happy.  Is that really any different than any other group of people in this world, today or in the past?

As I have been thinking about what I believe the Vikings wanted in a lifetime, I have also been considering my own areas of interest for my own life.  With a new son, and as a new Dad, providing for him and leading him to be a good man are obviously large concerns.  So, I will list the areas that I want to improve in my own life, and also draw a comparison to how the Vikings lived.

Fitness:

  • Dad Fitness:  I am extremely overweight and can barely climb 2 sets of stairs without breathing so heavy that I can’t carry a conversation.  While my health parameters are in acceptable ranges (except for the  body weight, etc.), my fitness is definitely sub-par.  This needs to change.
  • Viking Fitness:  Vikings were fit for more reasons than just going to war with others.  By all accounts, the Vikings hailed from an inhospitable region that made raising animals difficult, and farming even more difficult.  Travel was typically by boat or by beast or foot overland.  Considering what I know from my own travels in Scandinavia, walking over mountains and down cliff sides ain’t no joke, so fitness had to be top notch.  And they didn’t even have Crossfit!

More areas to follow, but I would be interested to hear about areas that you feel are critical to being a great Viking Dad!  Feel free to leave your ideas in the Comments.

 

Travel: The Viking Ethos

Part of a Viking’s life was to travel, explore, pillage and conquer.  Thankfully, my role in my job only requires a financial pillaging, something well respected in the trade of business development and sales.  The last 11 years of my career have involved, at times, quite significant travel, so it is nothing new for me.  What is new, however, is the urge to drop everything and drive the 4 hours to home to see my boy and just know that everything is okay.   How do other Dads do it?  What Would A Viking Dad Do (WWAVDD)?

Let me know in the below comments.