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 from, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/30/the-dead-end-roads-to-manhood/
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.
That’s where we are as a culture. We run desperately to abstraction and avoid action at all costs. Thoreau’s man of “quiet desperation” has never been so prevalent. The world is full of men who are “stuck” in life. There has been some mass paralysis. Modern man has forgotten how to take action.
~ Kyle Eschenroeder from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/19/10-overlooked-truths-about-taking-action/
Curious: My self-perception is that I too often charge ahead doing things. By which I mean, I should more often take some time to reflect, think-through, etc. I am frequently way off on a tangent doing something, which from the hind-sight of next year, was clearly not a good expenditure of my efforts.
Curiouser: Others tell me that I spend way too much time figuring out systems and trying to sort-out/plan every little detail of something. When what’s needed is to make a few steps forward.
Curiouser and curiouser: What if both of these ideas are perfectly correct/true?
But if aspiring was our true fulcrum, you’d be on your throne already. Here’s the truth: It’s not the heights we aspire to but the FLOOR WE PUT UP WITH that determines our place.
~ Bryan Ward from, http://www.thirdwayman.com/articles/stop-aspiring/
A good friend recently said something to the effect of, “Life is full of compromises which you cannot avoid. So don’t compromise with yourself.”
I find both of these things are very useful for me to keep in mind.
These days, cues on living a virtuous life are virtually absent from school or popular culture. And there are thousands of other stimuli vying for your attention. What this means is that you can’t hope to accidentally bump into cues every day that will help you remember the things that are most important to you. Instead, you have to purposefully plan for your regular exposure to those cues. You do this by regularly reading your scriptures, or personal manifesto, or books on philosophy and development, and doing other things which continually pull up all your past feelings and insights into the man you want to be, bringing them to bear on your present challenges.
~ Brett McKay from, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/10/08/hold-fast-how-forgetfulness-torpedos-your-journey-to-becoming-the-man-you-want-to-be-and-remembrance-is-the-antidote/
The linked article is rather long and covers a wide variety of sources and ideas — some I’d venture most “modern” people won’t be interested in. But, the thread running through this is very real.
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.
~ Brett Mckay from, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/11/27/more-load-on-the-arch/
This piece is a clear manifesto that coincides with my efforts of the past couple years: “Load the arch intentionally!”