How does a man know he's courageous?
This a plea for a right of passage, a right to feel masculine and have enough satisfactory proof that it's unshakably true. Without courage, we shrivel away from things that matter, grow cowardly in our thinking and fail to meet the challenges that make us strong.
But times have changed! We as men have no fight these days of modern fads and conveniences. We have no World War, no Great Depression, no extreme racism to combat…no worthy battles. No, we're the fortunate ones living in the “Land Of Opportunity & Prosperity” where anyone can achieve anything, or so we're told, even convinced. If you're lacking faith, all you must do is believe in yourself and certainly it will be so, or better yet, a myriad of coaches and guides exist at your fingertips and for a mere $10,000 (seems to be the magic number), will show you the way to the infinite light of your humanly bliss.
It's rhetoric! We've heard it all before!
We're in a culture of me-centered, narcissistic first-ness, all blanketed with spiritual talk on thriving and blissful living. Don't get me wrong, I'm part of this movement and in some ways support it, so I will not be another writer, cowardly arm-chair-quarterbacking the world with cynicism and careless disregard. On the contrary!
It is just that my good ole' Texas Bullshit Meter starts red lining when NOBODY speaks of the challenges, the struggles, the aches and pains and the dust and the sweat of both defeat and victory.
Can we manifest the eternal greatness of the universe? ABSOLUTELY!
Can we tap into the rich storehouse of the divine and experience the bliss of miracles? ABSOLUTELY!
And…there is balance.
“It is not the critic who counts, nor the one who points out how the strong man stumbled. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. He strives valiantly; errs and comes short again and again yet knows great enthusiasm, great devotions. He spends himself in a worthy cause; and, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. The man who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
So how does a man forge himself in a time when there are no great trials and no great dilemmas that causes life to hang dangerously in the balance?
We're a generation of entitled pusses, myself often included. That's how many men feel and as a result, we must compete on the battlefield of acquisitions and titles being deemed worthy only by the comparisons when we look right and left to look into the eyes of our fellow brother when the starting pistol fires, usually at birth. We have been fighting, striving and struggling only to be too tired, hearts full of dismay by the time we reach our promised land.
We men, we're exhausted. Tired of a changing metric we'll most likely never hit and living in the agony of defeat since the thrill of victory is short lived, never celebrated as a new metric is set. Our trust in our women has waned and we too recognize we've contributed greatly to their own demise from the pedestals of sacred femininity, requiring our brides to butch-up, get busy and do the things we've failed to do. We're carrying the heavy yoke of shame and we need (yes NEED!) each other so desperately.
Nobody taught us to just BE, how to find joy in the simplicity of what the Chinese called “chopping wood and carrying water”. We are kept as wild stallions put out to stud never fully feeling that wreath of victory upon our necks and so we LONG for celebration that if goes unmet, turns into a brothel of debauchery in grand tribute to our penis. We are only as good as our last race and our personal stock fluctuates in massive proportion to the fad du jour of magazines shoved down our throats while waiting in line to pay for market goods. We escape in drink, in food, in sex, even in things we're told are “good” such as religion or pleasing another, only to weaken further that last remaining drop of hope buried deep within us as the temporary intoxication fades away leaving the dreaded hang-over.
Men are praying. For what…they often don't know, but we pray. We as a species, are seeking answers and the “Find-Your-Purpose” business is flourishing as a result, eager to sell us the latest course, seminar or solution. We leave the conference room motivated, yet still empty. We leave the church with affection, but no mission. We leave the bedroom released, but not connected.
How do we prove, to ourselves, we are worthy? We are born with war in our blood but no war to fight so the battle rages inside, quietly, desperately in need of a salvation inside ourselves, one we can exert and stake claim to rise and exclaim, “This is my land!”
We are in a fight for our lives, make no mistake. In this planetary shift of realignment, we are awakening and ushering in a new consciousness of heightened energy and forces beyond our recognition or understanding are at work to uphold the quest to achieve oneness, to take our rightful seat as sons of God, partnering with divinity to be more than mere men bred and marched to die for country or prosperity. We. Are. Men.
In spite of the bleak circumstances presented, with that “Texas BS-Meter” I mentioned earlier is finally subsiding to normal levels, big breath in of calming release, how…does a man know if he's courageous.
Here is the one, and only answer, I've found.
Show me the man that can stand true to his ideals in the midst of trials, from the fire of opposition and unkindness from ones he called friend right before he made a decision to forge a new path, before he answered his own call.
THIS is the mark of true courage.
“That's it?” you ask! Okay, if you doubt, let me explain, I'll even give you several.
Crab Mentality. (notice even Wikipedia defines it) Yes, that's right and perhaps you've heard of it. Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase, “if I can't have it, neither can you.” As mirrors of each other, we're often frightened by what we see in our counterpart. A trusted friend tells you they're launching a new business and up in you rises the terrifying memories of you own failed business launch and stories ensue to warn your friend that this is a bad idea, carefully siting statistics of new business failures, even assuring him your motives are pure and in his best interest. The scary part is your motives ARE good, but they're not accurate.
Religious Trauma Syndrome. What? Ya, it's real and you don't have to look far to find ones that have undergone tremendous abandonment and even persecution to escape from the clutches of religion. A few particular religions known for strict membership rules such as Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslim are known to outcast, disfellowship and disassociate ones that turn from the faith or worse, fall from the graces of behaviors. Even some culturally strict Jewish customs can be demanding to keep the tenants of the religious pillars that maintain family wealth and prosperity, requiring children to maintain interfaith marriage.
Divorce. (my personal favorite) Nothing divides people like a divorce, especially if there's children and the family is heavily rooted into a community. I've seen entire friendship circles splinter off into an uncomfortable awkwardness, Facebook de-friending and abandoning of 10 year relationships because a friend chose to leave their spouse. I've seen churches divide, businesses be disassembled, destroying the profits of customers and eliminating jobs for the innocent bystanders…of a divorce. In reality, divorce can be a new beginning for two great people that may still love each other but have grown apart and need to evolve their relationship into something else.
So I'll say it again. Show me the man that carefully chooses his commitments. A man that is slow to speak and quick to listen, careful even in the casual conversation to not anchor an idea that is contrary to his mindset only to gain favor with his audience. A man that is busy about his work, admits his faults and makes amends, stays true to the business of self love and care, balanced in his dealings, fair and kind, yet not weak. His hands grace a woman's skin with intention. His eyes have a fixed gaze of wonder, curiosity and determination. The earth graces his feet and upholds his steps in support of connected purpose. His tears of both sadness and joy are not hidden from the world for a fear of what you may think of him. He'll venture, he'll create, he'll laugh and he'll champion the most innocent and humble of dreams of another.
We are but a remaining few. You will find us waiting, planning, speaking in our secret codes and verbiage to ones that also want more. Not just more for accumulation sake, but for the advancement of goodness to all mankind where our women can dance in their beauty and our children flourish in their innocence. We wear this state of readiness like armor and we suit-up everyday as it falls from us while we sleep in rest for the next day.
HE…is a man. He was not born this way but rather was chiseled with the many tools of life to a new creation and re-birthed into this state. He knows no other way.
I'll end with a poem titled, “IF” by Rudyard Kipling below in hopes that it will bring a courageous stirring to the hearts of my fellow men and an articulation to the women reading of what we endure.
In the face of great trials, whether internal or external, whether friend or foe, let us advance from the shadowy depths of our hearts, forge into the unknowns and return to this planetary shift pressing into us to love where there is no gain and to boldly stand and say, “I am courageous.”