the pursuit of manliness

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“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Rudyard Kipling – If

do you wonder when the answer will come? the answer to the question “why don’t I fit in?”, or the question “why am I different?”

do you think back and wonder why you couldn’t be gifted in the art of car mechanics, or have a desire to lift weights, get “shredded” or “ripped” or just be that cocksure, arrogant, serial pick-up artist who seemed to get all the girls while you remained clinging to the edges of the pub or club, drinking down the courage to speak to – well anyone really.

do you wish, in some way or another, that you were “more of a man”, whatever that hell that means?

well, stop it. it’s all nonsense. and if you haven’t realised that by now, you soon will. it is all an illusion, one that is partly created by media, but mostly created by our external world resisting the evolution of our internal one.

I’m tempted to say that the male stereotypes have some kind of validity in ancient society, prehistory. yet I am not convinced; there is a nagging feeling in my mind that it’s a relatively modern identity crisis, perhaps reinforced or encouraged as society grew more “civilised” and power-oriented.

whatever the history, conversations I have found myself in recently (with both men and women) are providing evidence that there’s a shift happening, an undercurrent of change, a degree of restlessness within the hearts of men who feel displaced, disjointed or disenfranchised by “traditional” macho role models.

not so long ago a lot of jokes were made about men who “were more in touch with their feminine side”. men who thought a lot, or pursued creative interests (sometimes alongside more recognisably “manly” pursuits, sometimes not). but where did this come from?

the true “warrior”, in my world at least, exhibits balance, inner strength, diplomacy and a clear understanding that physical energy is better directed through positive channels rather than, say, aggression.

look at martial arts practitioners, or, closer to my world, the mindset and practices of trail and ultra runners. yes there is a certain glamour on the surface level, an apparent prestige in achieving milestones in both worlds, however for those who immerse themselves in these worlds, things look very different indeed. it becomes more about personal development, becoming a better version of yourself, overcoming physical barriers through mindset, discipline, and by coming closer and closer to nature, the raw ingredients from which we are all made.

it is no coincidence that a lot of men (and women too) find inner peace and meaning through practices such as these. they come to the realisation that numbing things with alcohol doesn’t fix them, they realise that if they take care of their inner world then they start being more valuable in the outer world. they start valuing themselves, they start becoming “better” humans, and they start finding their true passion, their intended purpose and their hidden potential.

mindfulness has become a trendy buzz phrase in recent times, but the underlying principles are timeless. I personally believe that society once honoured the mindful male every bit as much as the 1940s male stereotype, or the musclebound movie hero are worshipped today. wise men with inner strength and open hearts.

the conversations I am finding myself in lately seem to be showing that it’s time we got back to that level of balance, individually, collectively and globally.

can you imagine what that would look like?

 

 

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