It’s what defines a man.
We all remember being kids, the good and the bad. For me, I remember sickness, accidents and acts of violence but, I can say at the same time that I made it through. For as frightening as that sounds, there are so many who have similar experiences with, even more, extremes than me. I buried a lot of stuff for a long time but do remember my friends. I was well-liked and had many buddies though I was only close to a few. To me, it seemed everyone else had more close friends than me. I felt I was failing in some way.
I had and have trust issues which are why I didn’t and don’t get too close to many people. I prefer to and keep a low profile. It is wildly ironic I write on public platforms about a wide variety of topics that are often personal, taboo, business related or satirical. I often reread my work and wonder who the author is. When I remember it is me, I usually have a belly laugh.
I often dream at night and see and hear those with whom I grew up; it seems so real. When I awaken and am quickly reminded I am late middle age and closer to the end than the beginning. Relationships past and present are significant, they influence and validate who you are. Who cares how many you have? It’s not a volume game but one of quality. At least, that is the life I have lived.
Along the way, I met many influential men. A grandfather, high school teacher, college professor, neighborhood friend, college buddy and business executive come to mind. I was also influenced by men I had never met and still am to this day; musicians, authors, and executives dominate this list. These men are dear to me. The trouble is most have passed or are unapproachable.
Living the life of a man is tough terrain. We often make small hasty decisions and validate those decisions through increased volume in announcing them. Yelling helps us prove to ourselves that the decision is right. We act aggressive, we have testosterone for a reason and use it for what tend to be the wrong reasons. Often we won’t express ourselves or can’t stop from doing just that to complete the grand slam of emotions.
I will say this, though, about men in general, those on my list and many others. Whether succeeding or failing, we are all trying. I believe it to be the unique quality of what a man is: to try. When we sleep late, don’t take the garbage out, and forget important events this is often why. It also includes when we do something irresponsible.
In my experience, I have always been trying to figure something out. I have validated this with the men I have known. When I talk to these guys, we often discuss figuring something out and how we are making progress or not. Do we ask each other for help? Hell no. Ten thousand years of evolution hasn’t exposed the vulnerability gene yet. If you’re waiting for us to ask don’t worry, we’ll get there.
Just Do It, Go For It, and Commit are powerful marketing terms associated with men. The underlying message being this: while figuring things out is appreciated, taking a less than thought out step might just be the right one if for no other reason than to get you to buy that new pair of sneakers.
I have known many good men. They all struggled with life. Some are just better at dealing with or burying what they are trying to figure out, but the issue remains the same. We’re thinking, which will lead to us eventually try something.
While I am not likely to awaken in the middle of the night having heard the voices of my colleagues or customers, I somehow believe it is much healthier to listen to the voices of my childhood friends. Even if the reasons I am hearing them aren’t pure. It is in our formative years where we first started to understand life and take the step in trying to make a difference. Encourage the men in your life to keep thinking and working. Trying creates options, options create opportunities, opportunities create experiences and experiences are what make life worth living.
That college professor I mentioned had us read this poem in class back in 1982. I have remembered it to this day. Written by African American poet Mari Evans I am pleased to share it.
by Mari Evans
I will have a
Big Funeral …
coming to see
trying to make
Photo: Flickr/Terry Robinson
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