“The modern man cries…often,” reads Brian Lombardi’s puzzling, unintentionally satirical profile of what’s become of many male adults these days. A bunch of people told me I should write a response, so here you go.
For all you girls out there, something you may not be aware of (but probably are) is that us guys spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our role is in the world. Be patient with us. Early on, there’s a lot of hormones wrapped up in it, which combine with stupidity to make us beholden to portrayals of manhood in popular culture. As they become adults, men want to be Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” or Ryan Gosling in “Drive.” As we get a little older, going down guns blazing begins to sound a little less romantic and trying to establish control and power over our own, realistic lives takes priority. That’s sorta where I see Lombardi’s piece directed; at guys who have moved on from wanting to be an action hero to wanting to be Thomas Crown. But you’re never going to get there by making melon balls.
Who am I to be writing this? Well, as embarrassing as it is to think about, people seem to be under the impression that the little life I’ve built for myself is pretty “manly.” Right now, I’m tapping away on my Macbook Air inside a blind way up in the mountains. There’s a bow propped in front of me and a bear trail about 27 metres away. I’ve already got about 45 kilograms of meat this trip, which I field dressed myself, packed out of the woods with an Army Ranger buddy, butchered and, last night, turned about 32 kilograms of it into tasty sausage. I’ll eat a bunch of that myself, my dogs have already had their share, and I’ll give away a bunch too.
When I bag this bear, I’ll have enough meat in my chest freezer that I shouldn’t have to buy any at the store for at least six months. And that’s with the BBQ I’ll throw and the stuff I’ll give away.
I cry sometimes too, but usually that’s because I read a story about a dog dying.
Be Healthy: This is the foundation for everything else. Exerting control over your own world starts with controlling your own body.
Be Strong: And making your body as powerful as possible. This isn’t about bicep curls or shredded abs, it’s about the ability to pick up heavy things, resist injury and physically bend the world to your will.
Be Self-Sufficient: There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from other people. That can actually be a tough lesson to learn for some of us. But, there is no more satisfying feeling than being able to take care of things yourself. Broken car? Broken body parts? Broken drain? Learn how to fix them yourself, then have the confidence to do so.
Be Willing To Learn: Accept a challenge and rise to the occasion. Achieving that isn’t a case of fictional, movie-style preternatural or innate ability, it’s picking up a book, teaching yourself new skills, then practicing them for many, many hours. That can often involve being bad at something and making mistakes; accept that as part of the process.
Be Helpful: We are privileged to be of healthy mind and body and to have the ability to bend the world to our will. Privilege comes with responsibility. See someone in a broken down car? It’s your responsibility as a capable person to stop and help them. Even if they’re not a pretty girl. Is someone having a harder time in life than you are? You should seek to help them too.
Be Daring: You know the motto of the SAS. Without risk, there can be no reward. Don’t be foolish, but don’t be a coward either. Your body heals and your ego will too.
Be Reasoned: Make up your own mind about things from a position of knowledge. Just because the whole Internet is upset about something doesn’t mean you should be too. Don’t let others dictate your opinion or actions, learn about stuff yourself and make up your own damn mind.
Be Kind: Love animals. Love other people. Love nature. Be nicer to them than you would be to yourself.
Be Forceful: You should have the ability to tell someone “no,” mean it, and get your way. This isn’t a metaphorical thing, the ability to swiftly and decisively apply violence to a problem often makes that problem go away before you need to do just that. Use this ability sparingly, but don’t be afraid to use it either.
Be Selfless: Put the needs of others first. The prototypical example is giving a girl your jacket if she’s cold. But extend that approach to the rest of your life. I like guns and fast motorcycles and stuff like that as much as the next guy, but cast my vote based on what’s good for the country, not what’s good for me.
Be Persistent: Create a goal, then work towards it relentlessly until you achieve it.
Be Responsible: The ability to do or achieve powerful stuff can often come at the expense of putting others at risk. Don’t do that. Don’t drive fast on a road with other traffic. Don’t let career success harm other people or the world around you.
Be Creative: Come up with ideas. Make those ideas a reality. Do stuff differently. I like making furniture. It’s not the best stuff out there and I had a set of shelves collapse the other day, but it is immensely satisfying to craft something unique with your own hands.
Be Useful: What value do you offer to other people? Is it something intangible or is it something hard and real? Figure out what your use is and own it. Be The Man at work, for whatever your niche is. Offer your friends something beyond friendship. Empower those around you to gain from your presence.
Be Curious: Ask people questions. Explore their motivations. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you and do stuff you don’t. Seek out new experiences and learn from them.
Be Humble: There’s always going to be someone bigger, tougher, better or faster than you are. Either now, or coming up in your shadow. Staying humble won’t just make you more palatable to other people, but it will allow you to identify flaws in yourself and address them too.
What would you add?
Top photo: Chris “Manly Man” Brinlee Jr.