Man Week: Trial By Fire

Eddie Braverman's picture
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Andy note: "Best of Eddie" - while Eddie is on vacation we're throwing up some of his classic posts from the past. This one from April 2011 is part of the very popular "Man Week" 3-part series. More to come later this week. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

It's hard to be authentically male in the classic sense today, much harder than even 20 years ago. I have the benefit of more than a few years on most of you, so I've witnessed the change firsthand. A fascinating double standard has emerged regarding men today that is not unlike the double standard commonly applied to male vs. female promiscuity. The double standard I'm speaking of is the growing trend toward the feminization of men by society, which is causing a shortage of "acceptable" men as far as women are concerned.

It's almost as though there's been a silent societal trade-off. If you as a man will forgo the male traits we as a society deem most troublesome (aggression, dominance, violence, etc), we as a society will allow you to continue your childhood indefinitely. So now we have "men" in their 20's and 30's who still live with their parents, play video games for hours on end, and seem to have no real direction in life.

These lifestyle choices would have been met with hostile derision as recently as 20 years ago, but today they're commonplace. If you doubt this, you need look no further than the catalog of Judd Apatow films lampooning today's man-boys. In fact, we can compare two recent movies to show that which separates the men from the boys.

The Hangover is a comedy about men. Knocked Up is a comedy about man-boys. If you look at the characters in The Hangover (with the exception of Galifianakis, who is purposely portrayed as the silly man-boy foil), they are all men. They all have jobs, they're either married or heading to the altar, and Bradley Cooper's character even has a kid. Throughout their various hysterical misadventures, there is one underlying theme: their pervasive sense of obligation. Their obligation to each other, their obligation to their families, and their obligation to get Doug to the wedding on time. To that end, they make shit happen. In many ways, the movie is a comic re-telling of Homer.

Now look at Knocked Up. I'm not bagging on the movie, because I actually enjoyed it and, on a side note, I have to give credit to Seth Rogen for transforming himself physically. But you've essentially got a group of modern man-boys with no direction in life who merely react to the shit that happens to them rather than making something happen. They're content to smoke pot and play video games all day, and cook up half-baked Internet schemes to postpone growing up indefinitely. Man-boys have become such a societal meme that we see them everywhere these days.

And here's a news flash: It's not their fault.



The Lost Rite of Passage

Throughout all of human history, men have been expected to do the heavy lifting. To hunt the food. To fight the battles. To protect and provide for the family. To raise the next generation of men to do likewise. To die, if necessary, in defense of all we hold dear.

For these reasons there have always been clearly defined initiation rituals for boys to make the transition to manhood. Fail the test and you are not a man; pass the test and you'll never again be a boy. For the ancient Spartans, it was the Agoge. For American Indians it was the Vision Quest. For Europeans it was seven years served as an apprentice to a master. In every case, the previous generation of men ushered the next generation into manhood through instruction and testing.

The test was always profound, and often life threatening. It often involved great physical exertion and endurance. It was commonly a test of brains as well as brawn. And when you survived the crucible and came out the other side, you were changed. Reborn, even. After what you'd seen and accomplished, you could no longer look at the world through the eyes of a boy, and your tribe instantly recognized and respected you for the man you had become.

Our modern world lacks these baptisms by fire. The majority of men in their 20's and early 30's were never initiated into manhood because their father before them hadn't been either. This poses quite the dilemma for modern women: in a world where boys are forever extending their childhood, it has become more and more difficult to find a suitable mate with whom to raise a family. Despite our many scientific advances, we've yet to find a way to extend the shelf-life of ovaries. And women in their mid-to-late 20's are keenly aware of this.

The sad fact is, so are men. The self-doubt that comes with always wondering whether you're truly a man must be crippling. I think that's why so many young men turn to distractions they can control, like video games which allow them to "play" at being a warrior instead of actually being a warrior.

Perhaps the best book written on the subject of male initiation is Adam's Return by Richard Rohr. It's a subject I've studied in great depth (I have two young men of my own to initiate, after all) and Adam's Return covers both the stages of manhood as well as the universal truths a man must come to accept in his life.

According to Rohr (and most others who write on the subject), the four stages of manhood are:

  1. The Warrior
  2. The Lover
  3. The King/Father
  4. The Wise Man



The Warrior

The first stage of manhood is always becoming the warrior. Of course, this doesn't mean you must fight or go off to war or do violence upon another person. What is meant by becoming a warrior is that you've learned to embrace and channel the darker aspects of your masculinity to serve beneficial ends. It means you've accepted and can control your aggression, use it when necessary to protect that which is dear to you, and refrain from the aggressive "tantrums" thrown by today's man-boys on so many YouTube ruckus videos and Internet message boards (ahem, WSO). The hallmark of a warrior is his quiet awareness of the power and invincibility within himself, and the outward maturity that awareness projects to those around him.

For centuries, fathers initated their sons into warriorhood. This could've been literal, where a knight taught the science of warcraft to his son, or more secular, where an apprentice stone mason became a master mason after seven years of training and experience. The latter example is where the word "Journeyman" comes from, as masons would travel from place to place plying their trade.

I was fortunate enough to have been adopted by a warrior into a warrior clan. Though I bristled under my father's strict discipline, I knew deep down I needed it and that it would serve me later in life. When I faced my own baptism by fire, first figuratively in my three months of Marine Corps warrior training and then literally in my seven months in the Middle Eastern desert fighting the first Gulf War, I was thankful I had his steely reserve to fall back on. It is also why it has been so difficult (near impossible, in fact) for me to lay The Warrior in me to rest and progress to the latter stages of my own manhood. It's hard to put down the sword.

Nothing worth doing is ever without cost, and the cost of becoming a warrior can be your life itself. But the benefit far exceeds the cost, even for those who pay the ultimate price. Shakespeare said it best when he wrote, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." Becoming a warrior brings about a confidence within you that inspires men to follow you into the gates of Hell, and that women find utterly irresistible.

Which brings us to the next stage of manhood.



The Lover

Midas and I got the idea for Man Week after reading Kay Hymowitz's piece in the Wall Street Journal lamenting the fact that there are no young men acceptable for long-term relationships. Now, her complaint is nothing new. The entire Sex And The City franchise was built around this single limiting belief. That said, her complaint is not without some merit, and moreso with each passing year, it seems.

I don't blame men entirely for this phenomenon. A large part of the issue is the range of choices available to men today that didn't exist 50 years ago. First and foremost is the sexual availability of today's women. Time was, you pretty much had to get married if you wanted to get laid. Not so anymore. So men today are faced with the very real dilemma of not having to buy the cow when they're getting the milk for free. Even if today's man is of a mind to purchase some cattle, he'll have to come to grips with the fact that his beloved Bessie has probably been through a couple dozen other pastures before she ambled over to his. And there's probably documentary evidence of these various dalliances on Facebook. It's enough to give a traditional guy pause.

Speaking of the Internet, the widespread availability of pornography of every imaginable variety has added another -- often insurmountable -- level of competition to the establishment of long term relationships. As women become more and more commoditized, men no longer have to fight for the most desireable mates and women are no longer viewed as the prize they are for successfully achieving warrior status. Not to put too fine a point on it, but most uninitiated men today would rather rub one out to the perfect 10 on their laptop than put in the time to get to know the 6 that might be the love of their life and the mother of their children.

I'm not gonna preach here. I've been married three times, so it's clear the only thing I know for sure about women is that they scare the shit out of me. But there's a lesson there: I've been married three times. Three different women with very different personalities and backgrounds thought I was the best they could do. And there's probably three or four others who would've cashed in their chips if I'd only said the word.

You guys know what I look like. I'm not hideous, but neither am I particularly handsome. Women certainly don't stop and stare. I don't have any pedigree; the closest I came to higher education was a 6-week summer Spanish intensive at a community college. I'm not a career guy; I've only had one "real" job (as in working for someone else) since I left commodities in '99, and that didn't last long (software related, for those curious). So I don't meet most traditional metrics that make a guy a "catch". Yet I've never lacked for female attention.

You can't be a lover (caretaker, husband, father) in the transcendant metaphysical sense of the word until you are a warrior. First and foremost that means slaying your own demons. Your fears. Your self-doubt. Women are absolutely magnetized to strength and confidence in a man, regardless of what he looks like. That's why so many throw their lives away on "bad boys" like petty criminals, bikers, guys in the band. Say what you will about their life choices, but those guys are not lacking confidence.

If you're a decent, honest man with a healthy sense of self and the heart of a warrior you'll have to beat them off with a stick. Trust me.



The King/Father

This is the stage of manhood where I find myself currently planted, and I have to admit I'm less than prepared for it. Middle age is a bitch, kinda like adolescence in reverse. My wife is the most supportive woman I've ever known, but I know she rolls her eyes at some of my vain attempts to hang on to former glory. And now I have two young boys who look to me for guidance and instruction.

At this point in life, a man should be "established". He'll normally have a wife and kids, be management level or higher at work, and generally have a firmer grasp on the mystery of life than he did in his youth. This is the stage where he begins the transition from warrior to teacher. The people surrounding him look to him for leadership and guidance. Like Rohr points out in his book, you may only be the king of your cobbler shop but people will be drawn to you and follow you without even knowing why.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the world's greatest dad, but it isn't for lack of trying. I definitely put in the time. I'm not the most patient man, so that makes it tough sometimes - especially with young boys. I think my dad was better at it, but I might just be idealizing his memory. Unfortunately, he didn't live to meet my boys (he missed them by about 9 months), but he at least knew about them and had seen their photos when we were early in the adoption process, and it gave him great joy. I like to think his enthusiasm for the thought of me as a father was more than just schadenfreude.

I'm going to cover this in greater depth tomorrow, but becoming a father might be the most profound change you'll face in life. Too many children, especially boys, are raised without a strong father today and it's to society's obvious detriment. I'm reminded of a prison outreach Hallmark Cards once conducted. They allowed inmates to send home Mother's Day and Father's Day cards for free. They ran out of Mother's Day cards almost immediately while the Father's Day cards had no takers. Sad, but true.

If you only do one thing right in this life, do right by your kids. Everything else can be forgiven. Economic realities forced my dad to work two (and sometimes three) jobs at a time when I was a kid, but he still made a point to spend time with me and he never missed the important stuff. We had our fights, especially when I was a teenager, but there was always respect there. It didn't hurt that I both loved and feared him.

Like I was telling Midas the other day, my only hope is that I have the same relationship with my boys when they're adults that I had with my old man. Only time will tell. Just keep in mind that the most sacred obligation you have in this life is to your kids. And that goes way beyond working 80 hours a week and never spending any time with them just so you can pay for toys (both yours and theirs). In the end, it's the time you spent with them that they'll remember and cherish.



The Wise Man

The final stage of manhood is the Wise Man. Obi Wan. Merlin. The power behind the throne.

Wanna know how to tell the difference between a Wise Man and just another bitter old guy? The Wise Man can tell a joke. If you've successfully navigated the previous stages of life, a sense of humor is nature's gift to you for surviving the inevitable travails and tragedies that have plagued you along the journey. Go hang out with some WWII vets and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Did you know there's actually a guild of Wise Men in the business world? They call themselves SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) and they'll give you potentially millions of dollars in street-wise business advice for the cost of a couple lunches. That's the true nature of a Wise Man: he shares his wisdom and counsel because he's invested in the success of others.

Wise Men are in many ways the linchpin of the warrior culture. Without the guidance of the few remaining Wise Men in the world, we'd be even more lost than we already are. Wise Men officiate the initiation process. Kings defer to their wisdom. They are the warrior's ideal; the warrior's best self. They've seen it all and done it all and, while such status makes the unitiated swell with false pride, the Wise Man is humbled by his experience.



The 5 Universal Truths of Manhood

The beautiful thing about the truth is that it's true whether you believe it or not. These five universal truths may be difficult for some of you to accept, but that doesn't make them any less true. In our "me first" society, these are counterintuitive. But deep down you know they're true.

These are not the only truths about manhood, but these are the essential truths.

  1. Life is hard.
  2. You are not that important.
  3. Your life is not about you.
  4. You are not in control.
  5. You are going to die.

While we have neither the time nor the space to cover each of these, take a few minutes to read them a couple times and let them sink in. They may seem negative on the surface, but they hold strength and freedom.

We'll go into detail on #5 on Thursday, but feel free to discuss any and/or all of these truths in the comments.



Initiate Yourself

I personally think technology is to blame for the lack of male initiation today. For millenia strength, aggression, and physical prowess were the determinants of natural selection. Females were naturally drawn to those males who could best protect and provide for the family. Technology is the great equalizer. No longer is physical ability and courage a requirement for success in our tribe.

In many ways this is a good thing. Look at Julian Assange. He's hardly the traditional male archetype, yet he used technology to topple giants. Technology will either be the death of humanity or its salvation, and my money's on the latter.

Where it becomes problematic for men is when technology is used as a substitute for personal power. The types of technology available to us today have only been around for two or three generations, but our inner warriors have been around for eons. The warrior within will not die quietly, and that's why men today who have ignored their masculine nature in favor of technological "force multipliers" feel as though something is missing in their lives. At our very core we require the animating contest of combat and physical challenge. It is the only way to truly know ourselves and test our abilities to the limit.

Many of you will read this and dismiss it entirely. If you fall into that category, I wish you the very best of luck. To those of you interested in connecting with the warrior within, however, the following exercises will get you there:

1) DISCONNECT - Initiation rituals varied widely from culture to culture down through the millenia, but the one aspect every rite of passage had in common was the solitary nature of the test. The boy had to face the test alone if he hoped to emerge a man. The only way to face your fears, to know your fears in the first place, is to eliminate all the noise that distracts you from focusing on them.

You need to disconnect entirely. No Internet. No cell phone. No Blackberry. No television. No computer. In fact, the best thing you can do is take a week off work, pack a backpack with a tent and enough food and water, and head into the woods alone.

Like any other addiction, being disconnected will cause severe withdrawls in the first 36 hours. You'll go a little mad. This is a good thing. You'll have nothing to distract you from your thoughts and your discomfort. You're striving for total isolation here. After the first couple days, you'll settle into a routine of rising with the sun and sleeping when it goes down. Your day will be about the primal things: eating, discovering the creature comforts available in your environment, and spending time in your head. Bring a notebook and write down your thoughts. Name your fears. Be honest with yourself. List your inadequacies and make a plan to rectify them.

If you do nothing else, do this. Go off into the woods by yourself, and move your campsite every couple days so you don't get too comfortable in one spot. Avoid other people like the plague, you're looking for isolation here. A week of this will change your life and you'll get to know yourself in ways you never imagined possible.

2) LEARN TO FIGHT - You guys know I love to box, but that's not why I'm recommending it. I'm recommending it because one of the most common fears among men is that they'd lose a fight if they were ever faced with the situation. Most boxing gyms will let you join for a month to check it out. This is all you need. Pay for a private trainer - it's worth the $45 an hour or whatever. The trainer will teach you proper technique and have you working a heavy bag on Day One. You won't believe what this will do for your confidence. After five or six sessions, you'll carry yourself with swagger. One of the first things you'll do when you meet someone new will be to instantly decide whether you could take him or not. And it won't matter to you either way, because it would be fun to try - and that's the important thing.

You might wonder if martial arts training like karate or judo have the same benefit. This is just my opinion, but they don't in the early stages of training. I've studied kung fu and ishin ryu, and they're great disciplines. The problem is that they're highly theoretical in the beginning (learning kata, etc...) and what you need is exposure to fighting right now. The one exception to this is Krav Maga. If you can find a Krav Maga studio and you want to go that route, go for it.

You don't ever have to get in the ring, by the way. I would encourage you to do so, just to spar and see what it's like to get hit (it's no big deal, trust me). But you don't have to. Just learning the skills to defend yourself is the important thing. And you can learn that in a month for less than $400, gear included. It might be the best money you ever spend.

3) CULTURAL IMMERSION - Time to get out of your comfort zone. The next time you have a week or two off and you want to go abroad, make it an adventure. Pick a country where you don't speak the language and do nothing more than book a round trip plane ticket. Figure everything else out on the ground when you get there. No hotel reservations, no plans, just get to that country and get lost. You'll be amazed at how quickly you pick things up to survive. I promise it will be a memorable vacation, and you'll find the off-the-beaten-path stuff that will give you enough stories to be the life of any party.

Another idea that takes this concept up another notch is a volunteer vacation. You can find listings for volunteer vacations online. Go build a school in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig wells in Mongolia. The whole time you're doing it, you're living among the villagers, doing what they do, eating what they eat, living how they live. It'll give you a whole new perspective on life. At the end of it the villagers will have a new school, but you'll be a new man with the strength and resolve that only comes from self sacrifice.

These are all just for starters, but they'll get you most of the way there. You can become the man you want to be, but not until you get to know the man that you are. Most men won't. But this sort of thing doesn't appeal to those who are interested in being "most men". I'm reminded of the old Heckler & Koch ads that said, "In a world full of compromise, some men won't."

The operative word being "men".

Comments (48)

Apr 12, 2011

Incredibly enlightening post eddie... couldn't agree more on how effeminate guys are these days. I actually signed up for Krav Maga just this month. Well worth it already for anyone here considering it.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

    • 1
Apr 12, 2011

sorry, but there are virtually no woman out there who deserve a warrior-lover man. if you take yourself to that level, do not get married. have lots of children from lots of woman.

Apr 12, 2011
LLcoolJ:

sorry, but there are virtually no woman out there who deserve a warrior-lover man. if you take yourself to that level, do not get married. have lots of children from lots of woman.

So you're saying play in the NFL.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Apr 12, 2011
LLcoolJ:

sorry, but there are virtually no woman out there who deserve a warrior-lover man. if you take yourself to that level, do not get married. have lots of children from lots of woman.

An interesting perspective, and one I hadn't considered frankly.

My counter to that would be: even if you're correct about today's women not deserving a man of that caliber, don't you deserve to be your best self?

Apr 14, 2011
LLcoolJ:

sorry, but there are virtually no woman out there who deserve a warrior-lover man. if you take yourself to that level, do not get married. have lots of children from lots of woman.

Hahaha

Apr 14, 2011
LLcoolJ:

sorry, but there are virtually no woman out there who deserve a warrior-lover man. if you take yourself to that level, do not get married. have lots of children from lots of woman.

...in conclusion, some men are in such dire situations that even the most well-written inspirational pieces fail to compete with their oh-so-wise views of the world.

Apr 12, 2011

I've been a long time lurker but I have to comment on this one and say...very insightful post. It's amazing how many men I see these days still acting like boys, without ambitions and content to essentially remain boys. Not that I've been fully initiated but the ideas put forth definitely help to stay on the right path. The problem these days is that most kids are raised being taught the exact opposite of the five universal truths of manhood. From early on we are all told that growing up should be easy and we are constantly being told by the media that we are special. I think the hardest one for a lot of men to grasp is 4. We all like to believe that we are in control because it provides a sense of security. The internet greatly magnifies this false sense of security with all the information in the world being at our fingertips. If a person finally comes to the conclusion that they are not in control they begin to adapt to situations instead of trying to change them. Just some thoughts.

Apr 12, 2011

Great post.

Regarding violence: The best scene in Fight Club is where Tyler tells everybody to start a fight with a total stranger and lose it. Getting your ass kicked in an invaluable experience, which most people in the modern business environment unfortunately never had.

But I disagree with a too negative view on "baptism by fire". Even in high income OECD countries, there is still some place left for initiation rituals as the below article shows:

http://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]
"To wince or recoil even slightly would mean dishonour."

Apr 12, 2011

OP, you didn't establish this changed from 80s --> 2010s until you do that your arguments are trash.

Apr 12, 2011

Powerful writing. In all honesty, all bullshit aside, the one thing I think of my father gratefully every day is giving me the space to fail, pushing me into it constantly, and teaching me by showing me how to recover. His instruction has made me who I am today, and I'm incredibly privileged for that.

Kudos to you too, Eddie. I didn't know you'd adopted.

Apr 12, 2011

Nice stuff Eddie. Definitely makes one think about the bigger picture.

Apr 12, 2011

Uncle Eddie: First. You are freaking awesome. Your write-ups are amazing and the reason I visit this site as an old fart, reformed banker and business owner.

I agree. Lots of wimps these days. As for me, I got married young, procreated and have a huge mortgage. You learn very quickly that you have to make 500k+, that you work hard and make something happen (granted, I live in a huge house and like toys... and I don't live in a NY price environment. I would need several million to sustain my lifestyle there!)

Your priorities change a little too. You hear "I went to a target or I now make 100k at GS at 22" and you laugh at what once seemed like a great accomplishment is now pretty silly and banal. (Full Disclosure: I graduated from Stanford and worked at JPM--so I am not some bitter hack.)

So if you want to move from the realm of small-time analyst/associate/vp banker with a "target" undergrad/MBA, GET MARRIED, HAVE BABIES AND BUY A HUGE HOUSE. That'll light a fire under your ass and test your mettle.

I rich, smarts, and totally in debt.

Apr 12, 2011
MrDouche:

I agree. Lots of wimps these days. As for me, I got married young, procreated and have a huge mortgage. You learn very quickly that you have to make 500k+, that you work hard and make something happen (granted, I live in a huge house and like toys... and I don't live in a NY price environment. I would need several million to sustain my lifestyle there!)

Well if you want to buy a house and become another debt slave based on fulfilling some pre-packaged idea of the American dream sold to you in the form of property ownership and call that responsibility and manhood, I'm not interested. Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree that responsibility is good for making boys grow up, in fact that is probably the core quality needed. I just don't think taking on an unnecessary load of debt in this economy is wise. The government... "they" want people to be slaves to debt by going to school and buying homes so that people will be tied to their jobs, so that they can pay taxes, and be a so-called productive member of society. Like many others, I'd rather say F that and live free and unencumbered by debt. Not saying I wouldn't want to get married or have kids someday. I'm talking strictly about financial management.

Apr 12, 2011

why you gotta be a bro hater?

Apr 12, 2011

Saw this posted in another thread:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/sfo/279126743...
Did you write that article Eddie?

Gotta say I'm part of the "lost boy" generation and most of what you wrote applies to me directly. In my experience fat, cunty women with power have been the problem. They control the school system and straight up hate the young men going through it. Display any traditional male traits and they will instantly label you a troublemaker and prescribe the latest amphetamine derivative. Men are seen as the problem and women the solution.

I'd like to throw in my recommendation for fight sports as well. Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Wrestling are all awesome. Give any of those a shot and you'll be a better man for it.

Apr 12, 2011
Babyj18777:

Saw this posted in another thread:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/sfo/279126743...
Did you write that article Eddie?

I actually agree with basically this whole Craigslist post, but find it ironic that he says 97% of all advice is shit while giving a whole page full of advice lol

Apr 12, 2011

Wow, man. No, I didn't write that but I suppose I could have.

I couldn't agree more with his point #5. My dad detested the fact that I joined the military after he did 23 years in the Navy, and I hope my boys never make the same mistake I did. There are things worth fighting and dying for in life, but corporate interests aren't among them.

Apr 12, 2011

every so often i feel as though i've fallen in a slump... like i'm just drifting aimlessly or that there's something missing. then i'll come across something that's profoundly inspiring and gives me direction again. i think this is happening now.

in all sincerity, thank you eddie. this was much needed.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Apr 12, 2011

Good post, Eddie. I hope one day your boys discover how lucky they are...and you too, for that matter. I know you already have a pretty good idea.

My plane leaves in two hours for Panama for a week with no plans. First thing I'll do is look for an honest-looking cab driver, and I'll figure it out from there! I love these trips...not only do I see new people and places, but I grow in interesting new ways. I also encourage all monkeys to stretch their comfort zones. Chicks dig the stories!

A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, "Damn...that was fun!"

Apr 12, 2011
LetsGoSailing:

My plane leaves in two hours for Panama for a week with no plans. First thing I'll do is look for an honest-looking cab driver, and I'll figure it out from there! I love these trips...not only do I see new people and places, but I grow in interesting new ways. I also encourage all monkeys to stretch their comfort zones. Chicks dig the stories!

Panamawesome!

I didn't even know you were going. I actually thought about using your Costa Rican trip as an example, but didn't want to do it without talking to you first and I was short on time. Maybe you can expand on it a bit in the comments, it's a great object lesson for living life abroad on the fly. Don't hesitate to mention the Blue Marlin Bar.

Just for context, guys, LetsGoSailing is one of my oldest friends and we've covered a significant portion of the globe together. He was the camera man in the stands while I was getting my ass kicked by the bulls in Pamplona last year.

Apr 12, 2011

I see where this Man Week thing is heading now. Considering Midas' and your previous posts, I thought it was gonna be about a 13-year old who thinks pranking is what real men do. Basically you are now saying, "Man up and face life." 100 silver bananas for you.
Having said that, I think deep inside everyone values the "virtue of real men." Nobody has forgotten that, and our society's value hasn't been changed. In fact, I believe there are still many men in college, cubicle, bars, whatnot. In the end it's ALWAYS gonna be real men who rule the world.
We need to look at society in a bigger time spectrum. We have just discovered the cyber world. Since I believe that our virtue of real men hasn't changed a bit, these rules will also apply to the newfoundland soon.
I guess I can call myself an optimist.

Apr 12, 2011

TRUE TRUE TRUE: shortage of "acceptable" men as far as women are concerned.

Apr 12, 2011

Excellent post, Eddie. As useful as WSO has been for me, this is definitely the best post I've read yet. I'm looking forward to hearing what comes next for Man Week.

Apr 12, 2011

Incredible post Eddie. I'd read the Journal article and it was definitely something I have been noticing. I guess you could say I'm on the warrior stage right now and I think you absolutely nailed that and the lover part with exceptional honesty. Bravo.

  • Mr. Cheese
  •  Apr 12, 2011

Eddie I'll be in Pamplona this summer as a stop on my trip around the world. Trying to convince Monty to join in the festivities..

Apr 12, 2011
Mr. Cheese:

Eddie I'll be in Pamplona this summer as a stop on my trip around the world. Trying to convince Monty to join in the festivities..

Shouldn't be too hard, he and I have discussed it at length. Lean on him, he definitely wants to go.

Apr 12, 2011

Excellent post, Eddie.

If those five truths of manhood were displayed anywhere in public, they would definitely be attacked and ridiculed as "hateful," "intolerant," etc. Taking a personal retreat to make time for yourself is vital as well.

One thing I'd like to add: I think you are correct in saying we don't have an official societal masculinity ritual, but there is an organization that has taken that role upon itself from its beginning: the Boy Scouts of America. Although I sometimes kick myself for not making the coveted Eagle rank, the lessons and teachings of the Scout Oath and Law have many parallels with your ideas and have served me and many other Scouts well on our journey to manhood.

Looking forward to reading more!

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Apr 12, 2011

Eddie, I don't have anything constructive to add besides letting you know that this is an excelling fucking post.

Apr 12, 2011

I started reading this and got bored pretty quickly, I would say this Man week stuff is a bunch of BS. So are you saying you want men to be more like rednecks? I dont get it, there always have been and always will be people with no ambitions, and to be honest, to each his own. Who is to say ambition is the way to go, a person should do whatever makes them happy.

Just another older generation saying how times were so much better in the ''good ole days", I guess that is one thing that will never change.

Apr 12, 2011
derivstrading:

So are you saying you want men to be more like rednecks?

In a word, yes. That's pretty much exactly what I'm saying.

Rednecks are honest and direct because they have no use for pretense. Rednecks are polite and respectful, and value the mystery of women - the other parents at my kids' bus stop marvel at how my boys insist the little girls board before them. Rednecks are self-sufficient - they often grow or hunt their own food and rely on the dubious social safety nets little if at all. Rednecks value family above almost all else. Ever been to a redneck barbeque? If you walk in off the street not knowing anyone but the person who invited you you'll be welcomed like an old friend.

I know it's hard for big city liberals to grasp the value in that culture. I know that because I was one before I became a redneck. The cool thing is you can scoff at them and they'll probably join in on the joke. Because real men have a healthy sense of humility.

As for being an older guy pining for the good old days, I'll grant you there's some truth to that. Time was an enlightened Yankee would glance around the room a couple times before even whispering the word "redneck".

Apr 12, 2011
Edmundo Braverman:
derivstrading:

So are you saying you want men to be more like rednecks?

In a word, yes. That's pretty much exactly what I'm saying.

Rednecks are honest and direct because they have no use for pretense. Rednecks are polite and respectful, and value the mystery of women - the other parents at my kids' bus stop marvel at how my boys insist the little girls board before them. Rednecks are self-sufficient - they often grow or hunt their own food and rely on the dubious social safety nets little if at all. Rednecks value family above almost all else. Ever been to a redneck barbeque? If you walk in off the street not knowing anyone but the person who invited you you'll be welcomed like an old friend.

I know it's hard for big city liberals to grasp the value in that culture. I know that because I was one before I became a redneck. The cool thing is you can scoff at them and they'll probably join in on the joke. Because real men have a healthy sense of humility.

As for being an older guy pining for the good old days, I'll grant you there's some truth to that. Time was an enlightened Yankee would glance around the room a couple times before even whispering the word "redneck".

Beat me to it. Guess that's what my redneck ass gets for going cougar killing mid MW.

Might I add, with the rapid decay of large left/right coast liberal megalopolises many of our smarter, better, more enlightened brethren are becoming hick yokels by the minute...and loving every minute.

Apr 12, 2011
derivstrading:

I started reading this and got bored pretty quickly, I would say this Man week stuff is a bunch of BS. So are you saying you want men to be more like rednecks? I dont get it, there always have been and always will be people with no ambitions, and to be honest, to each his own. Who is to say ambition is the way to go, a person should do whatever makes them happy.

Just another older generation saying how times were so much better in the ''good ole days", I guess that is one thing that will never change.

Yawn, go away.

Apr 12, 2011

Rednecks huh? You should come down here to Texas and you'll learn what a real man is son. Oh, I consider myself a redneck. And I can almost guarantee you're part of the pussification of america

Apr 12, 2011

Having a real relationship with my father, and learning his work ethic and how hard he had to work to provide for my family had a huge affect on my work ethic and my aspirations. I couldn't agree more wit the spending time with your father thing.

good post, nice to read something important but not finance related every once in a while

Apr 12, 2011

This problem with these man-boys is that they have retreated to technology as a a cocoon from society. They need to reenter the living world every once in a while and see how real people act.

Apr 12, 2011

Bahahah who threw monkey shit at me for my brilliant link?

Apr 12, 2011

Good post. Agree with most, not all though. Definitely touched on a lot of key points there.

Apr 12, 2011

Great post Eddie. +1 SB

Apr 13, 2011

Great post. I would add public speaking or stand-up comedy to the list of exercises.

Apr 13, 2011

An excellent article, I do have one comment on learning to fight. Training in martial arts made a huge impact on my confidence level, discipline, and ego. I recommend training to everyone but be very careful with the discipline and reputation of the school you train at. For self defense, striking arts like kickboxing (muay thai not "cardio"), western boxing, krav maga, and certain forms of karate can be good. I would also recommend, if possible, learning a grappling art as well like Brazilian jiu jitsu (I would stay away from Japanese jiu jitsu, it is more stylized), judo, or wresting. Mixed martial arts gyms are pretty common these days and usually teach some combination of these. Wherever you go make sure your gym has live sparring, drilling technique has it's place but there is nothing like full contact sparring to prepare you mentally and psychically.

Apr 13, 2011

Very interesting Eddie, thanks for the write up

Apr 13, 2011

I've always found it weird how some guys are so content to just "hang out" and not do anything with their lives until they hit 30 or older and all the sudden wake up just before it's too late (or after it's too late). I'm only 25, so I never really thought of this as a new phenomena, but I guess perhaps it was less common 20 years ago.

Apr 13, 2011

Eddie - out of interest, are you putting these philosophies into practice with your sons? How are you initiating them or planning to initiate them into manhood?

Apr 13, 2011

I gave some examples in today's post on fatherhood. Beyond that, they're being groomed for the family business (warriors) with the very beginnings of combat training and knowing when to use it. Believe it or not, the younger one is already pretty handy with a blank (a wooden practice sword), and they both have a reputation for coming to the aid of kids who are being picked on.

In fact, I got called to my younger son's school last year when he was still in the French system. His teacher was distraught that he had been in a fight. It's unusual for a French teacher to have anything to do with a student's parents, so I knew it was serious. I asked if he'd started the fight and she told me no, that another child was being picked on by three older boys, and my son intervened and whipped their asses. Pretty sure she was hoping I'd scold him, so she was pretty aghast when I high-fived him in front of her.

You have to remember that they came from an orphanage in Siberia where they pretty much had to scrap for food, so they're tough little bastards. The French kids more accustomed to a slap fight never knew what hit 'em.

Apr 16, 2011
Edmundo Braverman:

I gave some examples in today's post on fatherhood. Beyond that, they're being groomed for the family business (warriors) with the very beginnings of combat training and knowing when to use it. Believe it or not, the younger one is already pretty handy with a blank (a wooden practice sword), and they both have a reputation for coming to the aid of kids who are being picked on.

In fact, I got called to my younger son's school last year when he was still in the French system. His teacher was distraught that he had been in a fight. It's unusual for a French teacher to have anything to do with a student's parents, so I knew it was serious. I asked if he'd started the fight and she told me no, that another child was being picked on by three older boys, and my son intervened and whipped their asses. Pretty sure she was hoping I'd scold him, so she was pretty aghast when I high-fived him in front of her.

You have to remember that they came from an orphanage in Siberia where they pretty much had to scrap for food, so they're tough little bastards. The French kids more accustomed to a slap fight never knew what hit 'em.

Bwahaha! Did the teacher say anything else after the high five with your son?

I just play to win...

Apr 13, 2011
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Apr 16, 2011