I am a Man. I’d go as far as to say I am a Manly Man, insofar as I try to be the stoic man-of-action when/if the situation demands. I have had fights and car chases ‘in the name of the law’ although I’ve never asked anyone to stop for that reason. (I did hear someone do that, once, and I cringed.) I have climbed cliffs, done a racing driver’s course, served in HM Forces, and I have experienced many other things that one might associate with the term ‘macho’.
I still, occasionally, would like to do some of that stuff again. I am 58.
Yet just lately, my cultural tastes have changed. Despite all that manliness (I have an exceptionally hairy chest – and back – and I’ll leave you with that image), I no longer seek out war films, I have exceptional problems with the end of E.T., and am in bits when Private Ryan, U.S. Army (Retd.) asks, “Have I been a good man? at the end of the film bearing his name.
And one of the nicest films I have seen of late was ‘The Way’, which was about Martin Sheen walking a religiously significant route across El camino de Santiago, in the Pyrenees. The plot revolves around how his son is killed on the first day of his walk along the route, and Dad elects to take his son’s ashes along the walk for him. Hardly ‘The Dambusters’ (man film, obligatory viewing for all male children – and why didn’t MS Word recognise that term? WHY??).
The truth is that like most ‘blokes’, I suspect that as we mature we start to see that all the fun we had doing blokey stuff was just that – fun – and it’s time to think about more important things like family, legacy, principles and so on.
Which is why I think that many people in the machismo/action ‘field’, and men in particular, seem to dismiss and resist the idea of reading books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People until they are middle-aged. Which is a waste of about 30 years.
When you start to get a bit older, you get a little more mature, mentally. For some sooner than others, I might add. And you start to realise that there is more to existence than just you. Your children stop being funny little human puppies and start needing serious help in their lives. You start to notice how people do stupid things on our roads and admit that you used to do them. You stop worrying about spending your hard-earned cash and start thinking about how it will benefit your spouse and kids. You volunteer to be designated driver and you question the future hearing capability of the teenager driving past you with the ‘BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP’ so loud inside the car that it actually drowns out the ‘BRRRRRRAAAAAPPPPPP’ coming from the excessively large exhaust.
You suddenly realise that the life of living has turned to a desire to have a life of meaning. And you also realise that time is running out.
Instead of waiting until you’re 50 to discover what you’ve missed, try reading this book, or ones like it, early enough to be able to have fun while living a life of meaning. Have you noticed that the ‘better’ celebrities do that? They have fun and still contribute, while some (the a-holes) just have fun, and they soon become figures of hate and derision.
That book in particular, and many others like it, are valuable reading when you reach that ‘age of maturity’ that differs for all of us.
But wouldn’t it be great if the contents were routinely taught in school?