I have existed for the better part of my life in an urban setting. The rare moments of my life that have been in rural or wilderness settings have allowed for me to entertain that mans man inside me swinging that 20 foot tall ax at my belly demanding to get out. I have always fancied myself as a lumberjack, salty fishing captain, hunter extraordinaire, and general all around trapping, skinning, knife wielding badass.
The funny part of this is I hate the thought of shooting guns. I have maybe 2 or 3 times over my lifetime. One instance produced a near heart attack and a scar I carry on the pointer finger of my right hand. I hate guns. I am not against others owning them. Although I do wonder why anyone in America needs a fully automatic assault rifle…what the hell are you hunting with that? I am cool with gun ownership.
Wielding knifes, I was afraid to take wood shop because I thought I would cut off my fingers with a band saw and be destined to become a shop teacher. I will not go ice skating as I fear I will lose a finger to an errand blade. I fancy myself as a soul searching ninja or samurai. Walking the earth bound to an honor code of bushido. I am forever loyal and a seminal badass, regular Yojimbo. The truth is I could not kill shit or be coordinated enough to wield a sword with precision enough to cut wind.
I cannot count the times I sat around wishing I was manlier or Kit Carson. When I was in high school I fancied myself as an outdoors man. I am not sure that was possible in suburban LA. I did my best. I went hiking in Malibu Creek, the Santa Susan Mountains, and navigated [by foot] the mighty Los Angeles River.
My goal was to connect with the wild man inside. Later on in life I took to going out into the surrounding desert or a local lake to rough it. This generally included far too much beer and not enough of anything else. In my head I was a regular Hemingway. I romanticized this fact in my longing for a particular kind of female companion.
I got side tracked in a life of mind numbing partying and mourning. On some level I figured, “why not test the limits of my ability to function?” The “Dirt Farm” surfaced and an unhealthy abuse of just about any form of alcohol. I drank 12 packs like one may drink Yoo Hoo.
I chased no dream what so ever. I partied to cover up the hurt and brokenness I felt in my failings as a ladies man and/or an outdoors man.
I needed an Annie Oakley or at least a Nancy [from Sid fame]. The only catch was I was not an outdoors man. I was searching for my voice, my physical statement to display to the world. I wanted to be Hemingway terribly. I took this romantic idealism with me to Africa.
I also took with me a few of his [Hemingway] African novels. I hoped they would inspire me to greatness and finally release this wild man inside me. I went about Africa void of fear. I entertained the idea of death rarely. I was a man there. I had never felt more alive than I did in Africa. I had never felt like a man…this I lost within a few months of being back in the States.
Within a few months I became complacent and dull. I lived in the past. I drank too much again. I numbed myself. I secretly wished for a knife fight or fisticuff to liven things up. I settled for theology and the Old Testament. I still longed to be a man.
What makes a man a man? Is there a checklist? Let’s see…I have testicles, CHECK. I have the ability to grow a beard, CHECK. I like sports, CHECK. I think about sex often, CHECK. I kill stuff with my bear hands, NOPE. I survive danger daily, NOPE. I am wild and uncertain, MAYBE.
What does a man look like? Act like? Then what does a Christian man does or say? I am sure it is not limited to that Promise Keepers movement, the God Men, or the purpose driven shyster model. Can a Christian man be a confused 30 something with a past that is middle of the road at best? Can this man fuck shit up in mind, body, and soul and be scared shitless of heights and snakes? I hope so…cause if manhood is judged by outdoorsmenship that I am lame and shit out of luck. God have mercy on me a sinner [and consummate city boy].