Sex. Money. Power. Shattering stereotypes of twenty-first century men and shedding some light on just how simple our truest desires really are.
It’s not a secret.
Hell, if you’ve given any thought to what you truly want out of life, you could probably guess at least one of the things I’m going to talk about.
What do we want most? Besides Dr. Manhattan’s abilities and perhaps our very own batcave. Is it money? Do we want unlimited power? How about to travel through time? Maybe we want to be a superhero? All very valid, and I’m sure for some of us, true statements.
This life is a very different experience for us all. Yet, here we are, as men in the twenty-first century, nearly free for the first time ever from the constraints that we ourselves placed— and I believe the same things make us tick now that did when we first grabbed a stick and went out clubbing.
Deep down, there are three fundamental things that we, as men, all want in life:
To be Loved. To have a Purpose. & To be Legend.
I have grappled with depression for my entire life. In high School, my therapists told me that I had a very unrealistic view of love. For you see, to me, love has always been my savior. It has always been the only hand that could reach into the darkness and pull me free. I never had the love from my parents that I needed as a child, as is the case with most children who grow up with alcoholic parents. As a result, I had higher expectations from love.
Something my therapist never acknowledge openly, but something that we do (and should) talk about with men’s health these days, was that I also developed additional unrealistic expectations from the way we illustrate men in children’s, adolescent, and young adult media.
We all want love because we believe it completes us. From the time we are children, we are instilled with this hope for an everlasting love. We see the idea of the man as the hero rescuing the woman from the fell clutch of some evil circumstance.
This becomes love. It defines manhood. Media teaches us how to be a man.
As we age, we dream of the perfect woman. We discern the qualities that we love in another and hope that we will find them. Our unrealistic expectations make this game a long and dangerous one. But in the end, Love is what we desire.
Along our journey, we begin to discern the truths and lies of what we learned. Our relationships and experiences grow, and we slowly shed our unrealistic pretenses. Life becomes an open slate, ready to be filled with what we truly desire.
And at the end of the day, men just want to be loved.
We also need a purpose. The universal existential quandaries that kept Socrates searching and Whitman wondering will most likely never be “answered” in a way that satisfies us all.
Yet men yearn for an answer. We yearn for a place where we belong. That place could be downtown from our house working as a barista— for it is not WHAT we do, but HOW what we do makes us feel.
Think of life as an apprenticeship down a river of emotion. The emotional river decides where life goes. We are creatures guided by our feelings.
Within each of us is a gaping hole. I say gaping for a reason. Without a purpose, most men I’ve met in my life would define themselves in the exact same way: “I feel… lost.”
We need a purpose: whether it’s being a good father, or a great son, or the best pitcher on the east coast, or a big brother who never gives up— we all need to be something important. We need to matter to someone.
Notice how this purpose that we want ties back to the love that we want? We need to have a reason to be here. A man who finds his purpose and has someone who loves him deeply, is a happy man indeed. Heck, a man’s purpose could be simply that, to be loved!
We are designed in the cosmos, all on the same blueprint, but all with very different matter. We traverse life from a different dimensional standpoint, our algorithms of experience and our interpretations of existence both incredibly diverse.
Yet, we are bound by the same greatness that forged us.
And we hunger for it. We desire to learn and to grow and to become.
We desire to be legend.
I know. It’s a truly epic thought. And unlike NPH, I won’t make you wait for it.
We live our lives striving to do the best that we can, (to achieve these first two goals) but somewhere along the lines, we are going to encounter one of two (or both) things:
– We will find a hero.
– We will find a problem that needs a hero.
Unanimously, we are motivated by greatness. When we see it, we both respect it and desire it at the same time. It is this fundamental emotional reaction that creates our desire to be legend.
Some of you may think, “Eh, I don’t care if people remember me,” and that’s all well and fine. Not ALL men want these three things, but I guarantee you most do. They may not know it, or they may not want to admit it immediately, but deep down— this is a man’s heart
Think also, that you aren’t going to be remembered with the life you have, you will be remembered for something. Something you do either because a hero of yours inspired you to, or because you found a problem that needed fixing and took it upon yourself to do so.
Imagine your legacy was something amazing: you saved a town from a wildfire, or rescued a family from a flood, or you took out a gunman before he got to his target, or you were the first human on Mars. From the little to the large, this is how legends are born.
First you must be a hero to someone and then you will live forever.
Men desire this. It ties closely into the first two things as well; love and purpose. Becoming a legend will give us purpose and it will prove that someone loves and admires us.
For at the end of the day, men, just want to matter. We want to be Clark Kent by day, and someone’s hero by night. There is nothing better than being your partner’s hero. If she loves you and she gives you purpose, well, there’s only one thing left to do:
Photo:Flickr/Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ