The Blacksmith and the Woodsman


Once upon a time there was a woodsman who had an axe with a dull blade and a rough, black head. After a hard day of chopping he looked at the axe and swore to himself he would make it the sharpest blade with a head polished to a mirror of silver. The woodsman then promptly went to the blacksmith in the village and explained to him his plan. The smith then said, “Surely this axe can be as bright and sharp as you wish, if only you’ll turn the grindstone for me while I hone and polish it?” The woodsman agreed and for the next week he turned the stone for the smith.

Though it was harsh labor and the woodsman sweat enough to wet the very stone with which the smith ground the blade, he turned on. By the end of the first week the blade was a bit sharper and it’s shine still dull. “See me next week and we’ll have your beautiful axe glimmering.” said the smith.

And so the woodsman turned the stone for another week while the smith ground the axe. By this time the woodsman had grown weary, his back in stitches and his muscles aching, yet still the axe was sharper and it’s surface began to shine by the end of the second week. “I think I shall take my axe now” said the woodsman. The smith protested, “The blade is unfinished and it’s head only a bright silver, not mirror perfect as you wished. Turn the stone but a bit longer and we will have your axe bye and bye.” To which the woodsman replied “No, I am weary and besides, I think I prefer a silver axe to a polished one now.”

My apologies for going the fortune cookie route in this post, but I’d just read this story recently which was originally told by Benjamin Franklin. I began to think, how many men I know (myself included at one time) who’ve played, and yet still play, the role of the woodsman in this story. We become so fed up, weary, impatient or critical of our own failed attempts that we begin to prefer things that are inferior. In other words, we settle for less and convince ourselves that it’s what we really want.

When we do this it seems to us like success. It was still hard work, it was still character building, but not what we’d originally planned. A psychological experiment (about memory actually) once put a series of C and D student into a tutorial program to raise their grades, only the program was intentionally designed not to help them in any way over the course of 12 weeks. By the end of the 12th week all had completed the once a week tutorials and as expected none had grades any better than when they started (some even lower), but when asked if the class had helped them every one replied “Yes, it helped a lot.” The idea here is of course that we don’t like to think of our past efforts as being fruitless or a waste of time. Our own psyches will prevent us from accepting work for nothing so we’ll selectively forget the actual result against the perceived effort.

Now, to apply this to a Game mentality, how does this affect us? The easy comparison is the AFC who’s too afraid of rejection in the ‘outside’ world and withdraws into his own ‘inside’ world and “prefers” it. This is the guy who’ll readily supplicate to his GF because “that’s just how he is” or he “prefers strong willed women” while she psychologically and emotionally deconstructs him as a willing participant. The serial monogamist ‘prefers’ the safety of a relationship, any relationship, to having to confront this same rejection in the outside world. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve heard men in their 40’s and 50’s tell me that they got into a career to appease a woman or how they’d changed their majors in college to better facilitate a relationship. Their explanations are invariably, “I thought it’s what I wanted at the time”, but hindsight and the fallout from 10-15 years of ‘preferring’ one thing over another put them into the position of needing counseling.

Human beings have an amazing ability to normalize their own conditions. Anything can become normal. It’s how we normalize a condition that separates the reality of a situation from our perception of it. Now think for a bit of how this dynamic applies to yourself? What have you convinced yourself of for the wrong reasons? Are you in a situation now that began from your having settled for less that what you wanted? Do you struggle with an AFC who’s convinced himself that he prefers what he’s become?

It’s not enough to unplug from the Matrix. You have to unlearn what it’s taught you to master the new reality you find yourself in.

Published by Rollo Tomassi

Author of The Rational Male and The Rational Male, Preventive Medicine

9 comments on “The Blacksmith and the Woodsman

  1. I thought the punch line of the fable was going to be that the blacksmith and the woodsmans wife are lovers, and they both conspired to keep the woodsman busy sharpening his axe so they could have more time together to screw

  2. BLAM! You’ve really surprised me with this post. Not that it goes against anything you’ve written so far, but it just resonates so fucking deeply with me. I’ve settled and then rationalized myself into thinking that whatever situation I settled into was what I wanted. And then it becomes really, really painful to extricate yourself from all of it; but it is also quite painful to stay in it, because you basically need to rerationalize everything all the time. Otherwise your unconscious desires and needs will gain a firm hold of your throat and start asking you some really difficult questions.

  3. The context you are using here is on a micro level but it can also be applied at a macro level.

    The problems we are facing today run deep. We focus on individual women when it is society in general that is producing hordes of dysfunctional, masculine females.

    American bitches are busted fellas. You accept what is in front of you because:

    a) It is “normal”


    b) For various reasons you don’t believe that you have any other options

    You don’t have to accept it just because it is convenient. Just ask Roosh.

    1. I don’t have any experience whatsoever with American women. The women I’ve dated come from places where feminity is expected of them. And, well, guess what? They can be as manipulative and as convinced of their prerogatives as any woman out there. What’s scary about really feminine women is that they can control you far, faaaaaaar more easily than masculine, domineering women. You don’t see it coming, and we as men are EASILY duped by sweet feminity.

      1. Women everywhere are all the same at their core. It’s the ones with the shitty upbringing and a shitty society backing them up who are truly dangerous. Our society ruins them from birth and continues to support their poor behavior throughout their lives.

        There is a reason why there are an increasing number of American men who seek out foreign brides and very, very few American women who seek out foreign husbands.

  4. If you place different sized nuts in a cereal box and shake it eventually the larger nuts go to the top and the smaller nuts drift to the bottom.
    Maybe in the social psycho assortment hierarchy, AFCs were always deigned to be.

  5. Great post. Great point.


    You are right and wrong. The shitty upbringing can create a woman who fit into more naturally alpha driven relationship with a man. Wouldn’t it be great if we could carry our 19 year old alpha traits through our marriage without having to bring any beta at all to the table? Well that’s probably not possible, but it is in degrees, and some of these women are more accepting of it because it’s the physical, male dominant “protection” aspect that they value more than anything due to lacking this in their childhood. They also have a much higher need for unconditional love (which they didn’t get), which presents many opportunities for solidifying their devotion to you.

    From experience.

    That said, yeah there are still many pitfalls with a woman like that.

    But further.. know this.. Those foreign brides are no cake walk either in the long term. Kinda the same deal.

  6. “We become so fed up, weary, impatient or critical of our own failed attempts that we begin to prefer things that are inferior. In other words, we settle for less and convince ourselves that it’s what we really want.”

    I get Rollo’s point. Though, RP reconstruction led me to finding value in my relationships and possessions more than my betaized desire at accumulation. I was so busy, busy, thinking all the energy was expected for success.

    I do less and receive more peace of mind, good will and honesty now.

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