Glorious morning. There’s a rime of ice glistening on every windlestraw.
I have become to like winter. Had a change of heart. Not the dark, though, that sloughs its skin too early. But the fire of the sun anoints the end of the day now, at least, with something approaching the sublime. And even the snow has a lyrical quality to it this early. By February, though, I will be sick of its grimy scurf; its slush like fetid pools from dirty laundry. And the entombed trees in their grave starkness will make me wish for spring like it is a bodily desire. But for now there’s a stillness and temporal beauty before winter strips away everything and leaves nothing but the raw sensation of some dismal finality.
I hear that Popular Mechanics has a list of 25 things all men should know. I’m betting constructing a perfect sentence isn’t on it. Nor reading. Nor writing poetry. Or being able to walk with an idea for a story in your head until it begins to speak with a rhythmic stride. Or even speaking eloquently and being understood. Or having a reckless, searching spirit in a passive world.
I almost get out the woad when I read about these sanctioned imperatives of what should maketh man. Mendacity. If there is anything worth the atoms we live on as men, it should be that all men should find a self that is theirs alone and shun the conglomerate called manhood. And a man should be known for the stories he tells. Not the stories written about him.
There is nothing more unmanly to me than a man who shuffles about in his mortal coil as if he was the lightening rod that all manhood animates but doesn’t have a zap of energy to think for himself and imagine a self other than the one he acquired at birth. We are all born in a primitive state but manhood is the need to find a consciousness that challenges this status quo. I think most men never evolve beyond the biological urgings they encounter at birth. It’s as if they preserve anger, fear, loneliness, apathy, ignorance, and violence, take all the rotten fruit and call it sweet. I can’t stand being just this vessel for a collection of ideas and urges, preserved somewhere on the shelf of man’s shadowy domain. Sometimes I wish I could inspect my own DNA and remove all the tornadoes and tsunamis that impede. I do believe that man is capable of greatness but simply prefers the tragedy and comedy he creates.
And why must cutting down a tree, say, have more of the X & Y factor than contemplating our place in the universe by observing the winter stars? Maybe I am so critical of the manly list because most of the labors of so-called Hercules are not anything I can do. I have never cut down a tree. But I could do it if my life depended on it to heat my home. And I can’t change a tyre without much ado, although I could if there was a need. I think the crux of the argument about what makes a man is an inherent need. What I need to see myself as a man should not be the same need for another man. Diversity is the catalyst for life. But society wants us to believe that originality is the death of man and that a subscription to the Magazine of Man is the only valued opinion, affirmed by the majority and sanctioned by men who wish they were more important than just editors.
It all stems from a sense of inferiority. Let’s quit trying to define the ideal man and get to living out the potential that’s in all of us. Only by doing should a man be judged. All else is projection and theory. A game of snakes and ladders.
A man should not try to emulate a list, but be a living testimony to achievements that inspires other men to find what they lack and begin to go after it like an old god after a new invigorating myth.
I am not the sum of another’s principles; I am the sum of my own errors and a part of a misguided but determined spirit.