The Art of Masculinity (Part I)
The masculine journey has to be the single most talked about topic in my life at present. Many a whisky has been shared over many campfires whilst we talked about the rocky path called masculinity. All men walk the masculine journey, but not all men are aware they are doing so. And not all men finish the journey.
The masculine journey is about defining yourself as a man. The image and identity of man has been robed, tainted and distorted by culture and trend. Men were created to standout and be a lasting positive influence in our communities, rather than to blend in or fade away. Within our culture, men can easily become ‘skimmed milk’ – does the job, but it’s not quite the full thing.
The main destructive force that halts men in their tracks is un-initiation. We have too many ‘uninitiated men’; men who are unready and under prepared for life. Men who have not learnt how to face the world. Have not learnt how to fight. And not learnt how to love.
“Ask directions to the old road; the tried and true road. And take it.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Many men have a strong independent streak. An internal narrative that says “I will do it my way and I will complete this on my own”. There is no problem with this and that voice can be key in shaping young men and boys and preparing them for adulthood. But with that independence can come a strong internal belief that says: “I am alone. I am self-sufficient”.
Becoming a man is not a graduation or promotion, it’s more like an apprenticeship where you graft and learn a trade. You follow the works and wisdom of the previous generation, crafting your skills as you learn to walk the masculine journey. However, the ever growing number of fatherless households is hindering this masculine apprenticeship process. There are 1.8 million households in the UK with no father present (ONS 2015). If you take the average child per house to be 2.4, that equates to 4.2 million unfathered children. That is the same entire population as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester put together.
Men need to be mentored. They need to be shaped and shown and believed in- more than I think we realise. Sharing coffee with friends is brilliant and a vital part of life, but sharing coffee with an older man, stealing his wisdom, sitting under his experience is priceless.
I believe for this mentorship process to happen two things must take place:
1) Younger men must put their hand up and ask for help. Shake off the pride and independence and seek out the wisdom of the ancient paths and ask where to walk.
2) Older men must be willing to share the knowledge and wisdom they have gained and invest into the younger generation. You have more to offer than you think.
To be the change in the world we would like to be, maybe we need to be willing to let others speak deeply into our lives.
Jeremiah 6:16. The Bible
ONS 2015. Office of National Statistics