For some of you guys this will be the most important post of Man Week. Some will love it because I wrote it. Some will hate it because I wrote it. Some, however, will realize that this issue is bigger than the author and the story used to present its gist. This post is less about who we are and more about what we are. This post is about leaving it all on the field. It is a socially unacceptable, morally reprehensible guide which illustrates how to be intoxicated by every breath you take and how to succeed in everything you do.
I am sitting on a panel discussing something or the other. I am surrounded by nine other men. We are voicing our views on a subject. Within ten minutes, I am the only one speaking. The rest have gone silent. I am dominating the conversation and setting my personal agenda. This is probably the thousandth time this has happened. My ego is not satiated. I do not feel good about it. I don't feel tough or powerful, I feel like a bully...but that is not my intent. I am pissed off and it is probably showing. I want them to tell me that I am wrong. I want them to stand up for their views and fight, but they don't. This is the mark of today's man...a lion behind a screen, but a mouse when powered by his spinal cord in the light of day.
There is a reason for this scenario's increasingly frequent occurrence. It is a basic deficiency of your generation and admittedly, mine, as well. You see, there is something missing from our modern man (he-bitch) diet which has rendered us impotent in the face of testosterone charged interaction. That vitamin, that mineral, that nutrient... is violence. To be more precise, it is the experience of becoming a man through physical suffering.
Eddie already gave you guys the definition of a warrior yesterday, so I won't add any more fuel to that particular fire. It is important to highlight, however, that tens of thousands of years of genetic memory do not fade easily. Our bones, our blood and our instincts are far from the makeup of modernity we mask ourselves with daily. The true experience of manhood can be described in three simple words. These three words hold greater meaningful than anything in life. I repeat... anything. They are simple and plain. They spread across spheres and cover all metaphysical spectra. They don't rationalize and explain themselves. They are the essence of manhood, because they allow you to achieve anything. They open your eyes and show you the actual truth, not the pre-packaged version. They are cold and unforgiving...but let you bask in an endless glow...
Taking a Beating
Yep...there they are. Simple and plain. A beating, more than anything else is the key that will unlock all those doors en route to your dreams. It will free you of fear, of worry and of cowardice. It will inspire you to stop seeking mommy, daddy and society's approval and stand on your own two feet. No piece of tail, no driver's license, amount of push-ups, money made, prestige achieved, house or car purchased or anything for that matter can replace the empowering feeling of getting the shit kicked out of you... and walking away from it.
It is the one thing every man throughout history had to experience and it is the one thing missing from most male realities today. Through our daily grind of over information and over analysis we forget the simple beauties of life. Anything from the sun shining, to the smile of an innocent child. We race to achieve and advance, not realizing that in this very moment we are winners. We choose to believe the machine, which tells us the opposite. We delude ourselves into perspectives and views which don't fucking matter. We chain ourselves with the bondage of achievement, which is often nothing more than the illusion of safety. In reality...slavery.
We do not appreciate what we have. Only the adrenaline release caused by pure fear and pain can wake you up from your perpetual stupor. Only a literal ass whipping. Only the knowledge that between you and eternal sleep lies only the size of your balls, which can grow shockingly huge in these defining moments. When you realize both, that you will die and that it is time to get busy living.. Only through the cathartic taste of our own blood and pain can you really live life.
Here's a little story that must be told, for those middle aged, young and old...
Joe came from a good home. He had a picket fence protecting his childhood home from the harshness of the world. He had a mom and a dad. He went to a private school. Then a private college. The a private bank. Then further and further into the private sector. Joe was very private. Joe was very logical. Joe was very worldly. Joe was a nice guy. Joe had no enemies. Joe was a corpse, with a pulse.
Is it starting to sound like you've heard this one already? Good. Keep reading...
One night, I changed Joe's life...on purpose and quite by accident. We were at a friend's house party, where most of us knew each other. I saw a cute chick talking to Joe. More accurately, I saw a horny girl drooling over Joe. I knew she liked him and that he liked her. But I also knew it would never happen. Being the eternal gentleman, Joe chatted her up about birds, bees, trees and everything except the fact that he wanted to get in between her knees.
The impotent dance between them had lasted for almost a year. She giving the signals and he missing them every time, caught up in the eternal pickle between first and second base. To make a long story short, I took her off his hands. I didn't like doing it to him, but I knew Joe. I knew he'd fuck it up. I had gone home empty handed before because of his kindness. His refusal to eat a steak that jumped on his plate after searing itself medium-rare. You know that uncomfortable situation where your friend's date/girlfriend/mother is giving you the look? Well it always happened to me when I was around Joe. Being a nice guy, he always had lots of women around. Lots of good friends. Needless to say, he was more than a bit frustrated in the romance department.
This evening, however, I wasn't taking anymore losses for the team or for the coddling of his fragile ego. I snatched that ass like a klepto. Like bulk candy from a supermarket tub. Then we did that which would infuriate and embarrass you the most at that moment, if you were Joe. Right in the next room. Where everyone could hear us. Now, before you read on and throw all types of shit at me...realize I was really wasted and having some serious personal problems at the time. I want you guys to understand that I am not bragging. I also want you to focus on the embedded message that is the spinal column of this story's skeleton.
This is not about getting laid or being some sort of player.
I'm making no excuses for my actions, just understand that what comes next is an act of love. The act of a true friend...
I walked out of the room, lighting up a celebratory cigarette and throwing a glazed gaze at my not-so-admiring public. I got a lot of dirty looks, some snickers and a high five from one guy who was practically crying from laughter. Then I spotted Joe. He had a look of pure hate on his face. He stared at me with such contempt that years later I still haven't found the words to describe it. I walked over. He had no clue what was coming. He should have, but he didn't. The years of social conditioning and fear of this exact moment had made him blind. Like a deer in headlights or a lamb to the slaughter. He had never learned the value of the three words.
The first punch landed in the crevice between his cheek and jaw bone. It wasn't a knockout blow, but rather one of those strikes that sounds more like a slap. He stumbled backwards confused and leaned back against the bar. Then came the combination. A quick one, two. The jab got his right eye, the cross cracked over his chin. He flipped over the bar and fell unconscious before the stunned crowd managed to restrain me.
I woke up with a piercing headache and felt pretty good. I know that makes me a bastard to some, if not all of you. But as self righteous and indignant as it may come off, I knew I had done the right thing. I knew this would wake him up and snap him out of it. I was right. But like all good things in life, rewards don't come quickly. It really is about the journey. Joe's had just begun...
Over three years would pass, but the knock came to my door. I had heard stories about Joe. I had heard that he quit his job. I had heard he became Durdenesque. I had heard a bunch of stories. None seemed like the Joe I had known. But then again, that Joe finally did the right thing. He died.
There in front of me... beaming with joy, was a man I recognized, but did not know at all. A look of serenity and calm on his face. A big ass tattoo which reached down to his wrist, peeking out the collar of his shirt and ending at the base of his neck. He had also added about twenty pounds of pure muscle, had exchanged his side part for a buzz cut and definitely had me thinking that my ass was about to get really friendly with his foot. This wouldn't have been so bad if he was still rocking cushy Gucci loafers, but they too had been replaced...by shit kicker combat boots.
Joe didn't say anything. He just hugged me. I wasn't sure if it was a token of affection or an attempt to break my spine. Felt like both. Joe would go on to say the words "I can't thank you enough for kicking my ass" half-a-dozen times during our conversation. He was a new man. I didn't even know this guy, but I liked him a lot.
At this point, my side of the story ends. I have told you enough about another man's path, he should tell you the rest. In fact, here's what he told me about his beginning. A beginning whose details pale in comparison and fade away next to the broad strokes of the possibilities that come next.
I woke up and I looked my face. My eye was closed and completely purple. My teeth were so loose that I literally pushed a few out with my tongue. I could only think to myself "how am I going to explain this at work?". I was determined to sue your ass off. I cried like a baby while I listened to encouraging voice mail after voice mail. Everyone from the party was expressing their condolences and pity. As if I had died. They all said they would testify for me in court. I felt a so much contempt for them. A contempt I had never felt before. It was bone deep. I screamed and punched out my bathroom mirror. The glass broke and my hand bled pretty bad. I went outside and got a Gyro from the street vendor. I wiped the bloody hand on the wall of my building. He looked at me like I was going to eat him and not the greasy gob of slop. It was the best breakfast of my life. That greasy shit tasted like the finest 5 star meal. The can of Coke was like Ambrosia. I had never felt alive until that moment. I knew what I had to do. I didn't even show up to work on Monday. I tossed my cell phone on the spot. I realized that the thing I feared most, the thing that kept me paralyzed all those years...was the fear of what you had done. Now that I had taken a beating, I realized that nothing in life mattered except the next breath. I really thought I was going to die that morning. But it wasn't from pain, it was from shame. In looking in the mirror I realized that the pain was mine. I realized that it didn't matter what the audience thought. I finally saw and felt, that my misery came from trying to live how they wanted me to. For the first time in my life...I said fuck them, this is about me. So I left. I started living that day thanks to what I always thought would kill me.