“Be a man.” God only knows how many times I’ve heard this. To all the boys and men, my dad and two older brothers, and to that particular young woman I briefly (actually not briefly enough) dated in college, who tried to impart their infinite wisdom about manliness on me, I say, “thanks, but no thanks.”
Men, it’s been said over and over again how we’re the best, the strongest, and oh, so powerful, and so, very, very important and, uhhh, great—don’t forget great! But seriously, we just sound like a bunch of assholes, don’t we?
So here’s what I know. Being a man basically means being a kind and decent person who just happens to be male. Now truth be told, it’s not always easy to be a nice guy—my wife would gladly offer her long list detailing all of my particular faults to prove it. But guys, I think our greatness actually shows up when we’re able to take that deep down hard look at ourselves and ask “who am I, and how do I want to be in this life?”
This passage from the book “Rules for a Knight” by Ethan Hawke has been helpful to me—check it out: Rule VIII, Honesty~ “A DISHONEST tongue and a dishonest mind waste time, and therefore waste our lives. We are here to grow, and the truth is the water, the light, and the soil from which we rise. The armor of falsehood is subtly wrought out of the darkness and hides us not only from others but from our own soul.”
When I spend very much time thinking about these questions, I immediately recognize that the 2nd question is a result or consequence of the first. How I see myself, my identity, and my vision for manhood will directly impact how I treat all others, including women. How I think about myself and my responsibilities is projected into all my relationships. My treatment of others is a reflection of how I think.
A friend of mine once pointed out that in the movie scenes of my life, I’m in every scene and of course I’m going to think life is about me and how I feel. If I think everything is about me and my feelings, I will project this “self-focus” into how I act as a man and how I treat others. I will get angry because I didn’t get what I wanted and someone owes me more respect that I was shown. I will get jealous because someone got something that I didn’t. I become greedy because what I have is mine and all mine. I feel guilty because I didn’t do what I thought I should and now I owe someone something. Attitudes of anger, jealousy, greed, and guilt are all reflections of how I see myself in light of others around me. My experience and observation is that this is not healthy, for myself or others.
Yes, loving my wife introduced me to my inner woman, and it’s made me more of a man.
I grew up in Texas during the 80s. The husband/wife dynamics modeled for me both in my own family and in the culture I grew up in were very traditional. Men would chat and watch football, women would cook in the kitchen and serve food. Each member seemed to be in somewhat separate worlds which didn’t often overlap.
As I grew into adolescence and began forming my own ideas about relationships, I remember realizing that I wasn’t looking for someone to wait on me, to wash my laundry, to buy my clothes. I didn’t want a motherly subordinate, I wanted a strong independent person who would challenge me and walk with me through our life together as an equal partner.
I remember so vividly the day I met my wife. We met at a garage sale. Along
There was a time when my focus was on things I did not have. For many years, my glass seemed to be half empty, until I realized I was the one holding the pitcher. I changed my point of view from one of lack to one of gratitude. Through hardship and loss, I began to see life’s glass was actually full to overflowing.
Dealing with physical pain over a long period of time wore me down. After a while, life was dull. I found less joy in daily activities, and the constant discomfort kept me on edge. Every day I woke up focused on the pain. Each evening I went to sleep wishing something would change.
When I received news that my twenty-nine-year-old cousin had been killed in an automobile accident, I experienced a dramatic shift in the way I viewed life. Physical pain turned into a positive sign that I was still alive. It was surprising to discover how much my pain decreased when my focus changed from living in pain to appreciating the life I had.
I saw him as I pumped gas in my car at the Shell Station. It was hot outside and he was sitting in the shade in front of the convenience store. An older man, thin, African American, with a scruffy two or three-day growth of white stubble and shaggy salt and pepper hair. As I walked into the convenience store to get a soft drink he smiled at me with uneven teeth. There was a warmth in his smile. He didn’t ask for anything. But I knew he was there to accept any change anyone might give him.
I returned to my air-conditioned car and stared at him for a minute. As I drove out I went around to where he was and rolled down my window. I motioned for him to come over. He slowly got up and walked to my car. “Yes sir?” he said. I handed him some cash and said, “What is your name, friend?“ He said, “Carl.” I said, “You have a good day, Carl.” He smiled and put his hands together and bowed and said, “Oh, God bless you, sir. God bless you.”
I don’t know his situation. But whatever it is I felt an urge to connect with him in some small way. I wanted to know his name. A name carries our identity. It’s the
The realization of how sacred a resource time is came to me on a rainy afternoon in a movie theater. The newly released film was horrible. The plot was thin, and the animated characters from a popular cartoon were now silly as “real” people.
Even so, I was torn about leaving. It was raining outside, and there was not much else to do on the gray Saturday afternoon. Plus I’d paid for the ticket and still had some popcorn.
After a few more minutes of wavering back and forth, I decided I’d had enough. Other people may have found it worthy of 114 minutes of their life, but I did not. I walked out less than fifteen minutes into it. Making the Read more
The distinguished French philosopher and priest, Teilhard de Chardin, wrote, “Humankind is being brought to a moment where it will have to decide between suicide and adoration.”
The distance between those two is enormous. It’s a long drop from adoration to suicide but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45,000 Americans killed themselves in 2016, the most recent statistics available. Another 1 million people attempt suicide each year.
The latest casualty was celebrated chef, author, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain. He left us at age 61, devoted to a beautiful girlfriend and the father of an adorable 11-year old daughter. Famous, wealthy, revered by millions of fans, Bourdain nevertheless found life unbearable.
When I was eleven years old I was hit in the head with a baseball bat. It was an accident and my fault. I was playing baseball with a few kids from the neighborhood in the backyard of our home on Locust Street in Victoria, Texas. I was catching. I did not think my playmate would swing at the badly pitched ball and I moved forward. She did swing and hit me with full force on my left temple.
The blow to my head hurt so bad I cried and cried. My skull pounded for hours and my vision was blurry. I was sick to my stomach and thought I would faint. Although I was not taken to the doctor, I am certain I suffered a concussion. I know for sure the violent blow permanently injured my neck and jaw as decades later I live in constant discomfort.
I keep dipping in and out of the Showtime series, “Billions.” It fascinates me. It depresses me. It wildly entertains me. It intrigues me. It infuriates me. It pushes boundaries that disturb me. It portrays people that I wonder if really exist out there, and if so, man, is society screwed.
The episodes are based on the moral and ethical conflicts between billionaire financier Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes (Paul Giamatti).
Axe, as he is called, is a cunning hedge fund genius with sociopathic