Sources of Existential Angst

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/sources-of-existential-angst/

Consequently, we are surrounded by a jarring cacophony of comments, feedback, and opinions — little of which has been vetted, researched, or thoughtfully considered prior to being released. Instead it is the product of emotional responses and knee-jerk reactions. It is the product of our id, rather than our ego.

~ Brett McKay

Once I realized the full breadth of what was being created, I went through a long phase of revulsion which validated his analysis.

It was important that I went to that depth of derision to understand the nature of our current, Western society. In the end, I came out the other side with a renewed appreciation for technology, society, and people. The old, great stuff is still out there, more readily-avilable than ever, and new, great stuff is still being produced. (See, for example, this.) I now appreciate the new, good stuff even more because I see the full breadth of what is being done, created and shared.

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Relationships that DON’T scale

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-build-unscaleable-relationships/

These people are, effectively, hiding behind a wall. They are passing up more difficult work for the easy work — sharing or “liking” photos, retweeting, commenting on someone’s wall. These are activities which can serve a purpose, but they are poor substitutes for the real thing. It’s like saying Splenda is the same thing as sugar, tofu is the same thing as real meat, or Red Lobster is a good place for…a red lobster. It’s not the same thing. Not even close.

~ Brett McKay

There is a fine line between using social media (and other technology conveniences) to increase the number of people I can keep up with. Dunbar’s Number is often pegged at about 100 or a bit more. I definitely agree that there’s a trade off between how many people I can maintain relationships with and the quality of each relationship. I find the hardest part is when a relationship gets asymetric — when the other person isn’t able to commit as much time — eventually it’s time for me to stop putting in the effort; Eventually it’s time for me to stop trying, and instead to let another person settle into the social space in my universe.

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Adulting

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-winston-churchill-school-of-adulthood-is-now-in-session/

One of the most unfortunate tendencies of an adolescent culture is the impulse to fit everything into black and white narratives. Narratives themselves aren’t the issue; in fact, psychologists say that being able to view your life as a story is a key component to mental health and happiness. And as we’ll come to see, being able to imagine yourself as an actor in that story – a kind of hero’s journey – is one of the most important ways of achieving an awesome adulthood. No, it’s not narratives per se that are problematic, but ones that are overly simplistic and one-dimensional.

~ Brett McKay

The entire piece is good, and it goes in a certain direction: It’s attempting to provide guidance and direction to young men as they transition (or try to transition… or try to NOT transition…) from childhood to adulthood.

The take-away for me was a meta-lesson that applies from the adult point of view: I should not judge young men-to-be by my adult standards. Adolescents who are trying to create their story– trying to navigate their journey– are going to do things and act certain ways. That’s not a problem, nor is anything wrong. It’s part of a natural and normal story arc. The question and judgement from me should be, can I help? Can I be of guidance? Can I at least be an example, either through my level of adulting, or through my overt efforts at reaching higher levels of adulting?

Men without chests

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/men-without-chests/

If one believes in objective order and value, then the failure to feel the proper sentiment in the face of a particular stimulus cannot be justified on the basis of mere personal preference, casually categorized under the rubric of “to each their own”; rather, it must be frankly countenanced as a deficiency in one’s human make-up. As Lewis confesses, “I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself — just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.”

~ Brett McKay

…from C.S. Lewis‘s, 1934 The Abolition of Man.

The more I read, the more I find I want to explore and continue learning.

Growing up is hard

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/10/27/growing-up/

When people say they don’t want to embrace adulthood, what they really mean is that they don’t want to be a grownup themselves, but they want to live in a world where everyone else is. They want competent, effective politicians to represent them; they want their journalists and doctors to be smart and level-headed with a comforting mantle of gravitas; they want their children’s teachers to be dedicated and on-the-ball; they want customer service to be friendly and efficient; they want police officers to be honest and fair. They want the world to be stable, predictable…so they can afford to be erratic and irresponsible. They want to be kids, but live in an adult world, where grownups are at the ready to take care of their every need.

~ Brett McKay

This was an enjoyable read that brought up a lot of good points. The basic question being explored is why is growing up harder “these days”? Brett spends a lot of time talking about what is different “these days” in society, in culture, in the human experience. It was a breath of fresh air from the more common “kids these days…” sort of screed.

Dead end roads

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/30/the-dead-end-roads-to-manhood/

Masculinity-as-cultural-construct is one of those beliefs that sounds good in the abstract, perhaps. But I think most folks, men and women alike, feel deep in their gut that it isn’t so, isn’t desirable, and isn’t working. As someone who has examined the research and history of masculinity, I find the idea of it being wholly a cultural construct utterly untenable. It is a conclusion one can reach only by willfully ignoring large swaths of the data and the human experience.

~ Brett McKay

Masculinity is not — not “entirely”, nor even “mostly” — a social construct. I believe one is free to attempt to take on whatever role one wishes. (I see that as one of the big benefits of our current level of human progress.) But if you attempt the role of a “Man”, you do not get to simply make up what you think a Man should be.

Once more, louder, for those in the back

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/12/what-good-shall-i-do-this-day/

Society has any number of pressing needs that are crying out to be tackled. But there’s a need that everyone can start addressing immediately — no experience or Kickstarter campaign required: regularly showing more human kindness.

~ Brett McKay

Many years ago, my mother bought me a little metal rectangular paper weight which says, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” The type is laid in lines, and the, “no matter how small” is teeny-tiny so each time I read it, I have to look closely.

It also helps me remember to look a little more closely throughout my day.

Simplicity in 2018

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/11/06/spiritual-disciplines-simplicity/

Paring down one’s possessions and schedule are go-to ways to seek simplicity because they are outward, accessible, concrete actions that produce fairly immediate results. Their weakness, when practiced as their own ends, however, is that they lack a set of overarching criteria for how they should be carried out, as well as intrinsic motivation for following them through.

Practicing outward moves towards simplification, without this set of criteria, is like placing spokes in a wheel, without connecting them to a hub.

Simplicity needs a heart, and its center must be this: having a clear purpose.

~ Brett McKay

Throughout 2017 I’ve been slowly paring down. Fewer physical things sure, but also changing out some things and hobbies and projects and people. Can I eliminate one? Can I replace two of something with a simpler one?

I’m a “systems” person. I get things done via the observe, orient, decide, and act loop. For 2018 I’ve no delusions of rewiring my brain and kicking all my systems and processes to the curb.

I’ve realized, (far too recently,) that I need to take more time to “zoom out” and to take the time to consider how the really big things in my life fit together. Do they fit together? What if some really big component of who I am — even if it’s a great, fine thing — doesn’t fit with the rest of everything? What should I change; everything else, or that one great, fine thing?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do love to spend the indoor, chilly, winter season thinking about the big picture — and now, perhaps a bit more of the really big picture.

Goodbye 2017! I will look back on you fondly.

MEMENTO MORI

The Spiritual Disciplines: Solitude and Silence

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/10/16/spiritual-disciplines-solitude-silence/

The need for silence and solitude obviously seems incredibly relevant to the over-convenienced citizens of the modern world who feel saturated with the ceaseless noise that issues from every corner of their lives. But as mentioned at the start, men have in fact craved these states for thousands of years, long before anything digital, or electronic, or urban ever existed.

What accounts for the timeless, seemingly universal appeal of quiet seclusion?