From dealing with jerks to the misconception of a man’s world, Taylor Garcia proposes five truths for his son to consider.
For the rest of your life, you’ll find yourself in competitions. It’s the way the world operates, son, and in the world of men, competition is the fiercest. Whether it’s who’s tallest, or who can spit the farthest, or who has nicer pants, or who makes more money, or who’s been to the most places, your fellow man will attempt to one-up you. That means to position one’s self in a better place than other people simply by way of talking about it. People do it all the time to each other, so get used to it. This competition is the way men attempt to prove superiority, or alpha status. Alpha means the natural leader, number one, top dog, and it’s the alpha that is continually trying to impress others.
You see, son, since the dawn of time, man has been trying to impress someone. He’s been trying to astonish and amaze so the attention of others turns to him. He’ll do anything he can to dazzle his audience because more dazzling means more followers, and more followers mean more privileges. This is what alpha means. The more people a man has following him—believing in him—the more privileges he will have. He will be given things. Granted things. He will be rewarded. If a man makes an impression, his fellow men submit to him, and thus increase his chances of finding the best woman. If a man can succeed at impressing women, he can have his choice of woman. If he finds the right woman who will follow him and believe in him, he becomes king. It’s all a game, son. One big, never-ending contest. How you decide to play it, and whether you want to participate in it at all is up to you.
In this old comic strip called the The Far Side, there’s one where God is creating the world and he takes a jar labeled “Jerks” from a shelf, opens it, and sprinkles the small stick figure jerks onto Planet Earth. God’s thought bubble says, “Let’s make this interesting.” What this is to say, pal, is that the world is full of jerks. There’s no way around it. They’re everywhere, and you’ll have to deal with them you entire life. Jerks come in all forms. They can be tall, or small, or man, or woman, or someone you hate, or someone you love. Someone might be very nice to you for a long time, and then suddenly they become a jerk. Kids at school, your very own friends, co-workers, your girlfriends and lovers; they might all be jerks. And one day, you, too might be a jerk. You might be the happiest man alive, and then, BAM! you become a jerk. You see, son, being a jerk is usually only a state of mind. A mood.
Not many people are born jerks, but some people are, and those people, just like people who act like a jerk or are in a jerk mood, need to be handled. You have to learn how to handle them, because jerks believe they have the right to handle people, plus, they have a certain idea of how people should be handled. That’s when a jerk becomes a bully. Bullies and jerks are often the same thing; they’re in the same category of people. Be aware of them. They’re everywhere, and the better you are at learning how to identify them, the better you will be at learning how to handle them, and more prudently, avoiding them entirely.
A few words about temperature, son. The two main ones are hot and cold. Hot water, cold water, hot food, cold food, for example. Hot and cold, in this way, describe the physical temperature of something. Hot and cold is most often used to describe the weather, and we know how weather can make you feel. But besides the weather, temperature can describe you and your actions, and your actions can change the weather of a room, or even other people. Follow me: Say you’re in the living room and everyone’s sitting around laughing and enjoying themselves. The conversations are flowing and there’s a sense of connection with all. How does that room feel? Pretty warm, right? Hot, maybe. Then imagine a stranger enters the room and says, give me all your money. How did that person’s presence and his actions change the climate of the room? Turned it cold, right? Just like that. Hot can change to cold and vice-versa without warning.
In all situations, you have to be ready for drastic changes in temperature. You must be prepared to face the elements, and you also have to be prepared to change the elements yourself. You see, you can change the atmosphere of a room, make it hot or cold through your own words or actions. Even the way you stand, or where you stand can change the atmosphere. What you’ll want to monitor is the thermostat. That’s the gauge that changes the temperature. Some people say they love only hot weather, others say cold. But most people like it best right in the middle. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. That’s where you want to be, son, in your dealings with people. You want to be just right. Keep your thermostat in the middle.
You’ll hear this one phrase the rest of your life: It’s a man’s world. Some people, such as James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome, say that what goes on here is due to a man’s hard work and knowledge, but for the sake of a woman. This may or may not be true, but men often make the mistake of reminding themselves of it and relish in it: If this is a man’s world, then I can do whatever I want. And women might believe this, too; that their place in the world is second to men, and women should let men do as they please with all that building and creating they have to do.
Well, I’ll have you know, son, this is not a man’s world. It is a woman’s world, and it always has been. If it were man’s world, we wouldn’t have to send thank you cards, and there’d be no such thing as coupons. If it were a man’s world, men would be the ones going through forty weeks of the strenuous miracle right inside their belly, to bring forth new life from their hips. That’s how you came into this world: from your mother’s hips. We’ll talk about that when you’re older. Just know that this is woman’s world and what men do here is, yes, for the sake of a woman. Remember the need to astonish and amaze? That’s for a woman. Man is the eternal showman and his audience: woman. In mythology and most sane religions, woman is the supreme deity—the number one goddess. Mother Earth, or Mother Nature. And there’s good reason she’s revered as such. Do you think your mother is a servant? No. Never ever think that. She is a goddess and man is her disciple. His job is to hold her world on his shoulders. Just concentrate on holding up that one world alone, and don’t be fooled by guys wearing winged shoes. They may be heroes, but they can be jerks.
If you remember anything, my boy, remember there’s a world that everybody sees; the world we all live and work and play in. It’s the tangible world created for our senses; the one we can see, touch, taste, hear, and feel. In this world, we go about our lives as a massive community of humans, each one contributing to the great movement of the world, each person acting out their role in society. This is sort of like a large family where there is perpetual give and take. You give, someone takes, you take, someone gives, and on and on. We’ve been participating in this exchange forever and it’s the reason we’ve gotten to where we are as a species. But inside this world is another world, an interior one that only you can inhabit. This is the world between your two ears. Your mind. No one else can have access to this world. It may be the last place in the whole universe that is locked and protected, and only you have the key to it. You can explore it, cultivate it, and try to unlock its own mysteries for as long as you want. This inner world contains all the knowledge and information you’ll ever need, and you may continue to add things to it that you learn in the exterior world. Adding more to it can make you all the wiser and more thoughtful. There is no limit to the growth of your own interior world. And since there is no limit, there are also dangers.
Some people may get stuck in their interior world, become too focused on their thoughts and never participate in the exterior world. Some, while adding knowledge and information fill their head with negativity. Remember the jerks? Often times, jerks have let too much negativity settle inside their mind mucking it up for themselves and the rest of the world. See, all of your emotions are contained in this inner world. Your emotions are the things that give color and feeling to your body. They control the atmosphere of your head. Remember the atmosphere? Emotions can make you feel happy and sad or mad or excited. They stir up inside you and make your body do amazing and scary things. Since emotions reside in your own private world, they are also at your command. People will try to say you have no control over your emotions. Not true. You are in control of that private world and all those emotions. You cannot and should not try to ignore them, but you can indeed handle them. Remember that, son, because they’ll pop out at you, and you’ll have to learn how to navigate through them. Keep your lantern held high, close to your eyes, so you can see always, even when it’s bright as day in there.
—photo by donjd2/Flickr