Despite of all this seeming weight, a certain part of ourselves remains unmoored. We don’t lack for tasks, but we do lack meaningful ones. We haven’t made any goals since college. We don’t experience the tension that emerges in “the gap between what one is and what one should become,” because the gap simply doesn’t exist – at a certain point we stopped aiming for anything above paying the bills and checking off to-dos.
We think we want rest and relaxation – the absence of all labor and responsibility – but what we really crave is the presence of meaningful work and interests. We don’t want a complete lack of tension, but a different variety of it.
We don’t need less stress, but more of the right kind.
This piece is a clear manifesto that coincides with my efforts of the past couple years: “Load the arch intentionally!”
One guy is always happy to see me. I don’t mean well-duh-that’s-obvious happy, the way say, my mom is always happy to see me; I mean, just outright happy, twinkle-in-the-eye, “Hey there you great lug!” sort of way. This fellow gives automobile-crash hugs– WHACK and you fall over into him. His aren’t “A-frame”, I’m-hugging-but-no-actually-i’m-not hugs. I think I could back over his dog — he doesn’t actually have a dog, and I’ve never backed over ANYONE’s dog — and he would STILL be happy to see me. Consequently, it is IMPOSSIBLE to not feel better after receiving one of these greetings. It is not just me which receives this treatment. The world is a better place every time someone gets a crash-test-dummy hug like that from him.
The second guy is a Gentleman. This is a highly-intelligent, engineering-degree-from-respected-University… he knows there’s evil, and people do bad things, etc… AND he’s such an impeccably, unwaiveringly, decent soul. I have never heard him curse, or even speak ill of anyone. In fact, I have NEVER heard him even raise his voice. This is not hyperbole; I’ve known this guy decades. In fact, having talked to others who know him, no one ELSE has ever heard him raise his voice, curse, speak ill or generally be anything other than pleasant and polite. His composure rises above “great self control”, to the level of — well… honestly, I’ve no idea. I just wander around my life, thinking — how the F*** does he do that?!
(Alas, one of them recently died, and the world is a little bit poorer for it.)
These two men were best friends for — my guess here — 70+ years. One of them married the other’s sister, which as far as I can tell, only made them better friends.
I suspect that none of the above is coincidence . . .
Men and women may in the end be forced to admit: “I made a fool of myself,” and still be fairly happy. But no one can possibly be satisfied, and therefore no one can in my sense be happy, who feels that in some paramount affair he has failed to take up the challenge of life. For a voice within him, which none else can hear, but which he cannot choke, will constantly be murmuring:
“You lacked courage. You hadn’t the pluck. You ran away.”
And it is happier to be unhappy in the ordinary sense all one’s life than to have to listen at the end to that dreadful interior verdict.
Without male mentors, many men of this generation have felt adrift, unsure of how to deal with an indescribable but acute lack in their lives.
How did we get to the point where it is possible, as Edward Abbey put it, “to proceed from infancy into senility without ever knowing manhood?”
How redundancies increase our antifragility is obvious: if you only have one of something, and it fails, you can be up the creek without a paddle. Members of the military have a maxim that neatly sums up Taleb’s philosophy: “Two is one and one is none.”
~ Brett McKay, from Two Is One and One Is None: How Redundancies Increase Your Anti-fragility
For me, fitness and health are just a means to a larger end – something to enable me to live as I wish, to accomplish what I want, to face any challenge and adversity that may come my way and do my best to overcome it. Fitness isn’t the goal in and of itself; it’s just a tool, a part of my training which in itself is simply to allow me to follow my path for as long as I desire. It’s a by-product of living my life to the fullest, nothing more.
~ Dan Edwardes, from Fit for Purpose
Have men these days “gone soft?” Is our generation less manly than past generations? Are we less tough than our grandfathers?
~ Brett & Kate McKay, from Are You As Fit As a World War II GI?