My sons who work for neighboring farmers have come back with lots of pig slaughter stories from their employers and the men they work with.
But maybe the truest calling of man lies in the wilderness of life; in learning to thrive in the environments where complete control is not possible.
Think about every man you looked up to as a kid. Chances are they continually faced environments outside their complete control. Environments in which there was no guarantee of safety or success. Where one can only hope to influence rather than rule. Firefighters dueling with fire, soldiers battling the fog and friction of war, explorers traversing foreign territories, pilot’s pushing the boundaries of flight, or even the missionary working in inner-city New York. Each learning to thrive without being in control.
I know what you’re saying at this point. “Great, but I am a web designer and father of twins, not GI Joe or Vasco de Gama.” But, placing yourself in an environment outside your control does not necessarily mean changing jobs or even leaving the suburbs. It could be as simple as mentoring a troubled youth, working a few weekends each month at a homeless shelter, learning a hobby that has always seemed daunting to you, or starting the business you’ve been secretly planning during your work breaks for the past 6 years. Something that requires you to leave your comfort zone and step into unexplored territory. No guarantees of success. The hard way.
The suburbs convince us that the pinnacle of life consists of comfort, safety, and control. And the man that finally succumbs to this deadly logic is a miserable creature forced to live off the exhilaration of other men’s feats.
This last line reminded me of something I wrote in an article on manhood (yet unpolished and unpublished):
Sometimes I think that some men get a long-term depression once they realize that they have never discovered the Wilderness Trail or pitched a no-hitter in the World Series, or did anything which was heroic or adventurous from their childhood vision of manhood. This man feels ordinary. So he tries to relive the adventure he desired for himself either through his children or through entertainment offerings. Somewhere deep inside he has decided that the real meaning of manhood is watching football, drinking, beer, playing golf, burping, taking trash out, and gawking at the swimsuit issue of SI (or worse). But is this all men are destined for? Is this manhood?
I think complacency in our lives (our prayer life, our marriage, everywhere) is a real danger. And although easy to fall into, it does not satisfy the inner yearning of man.
Well, after a day of putting out fires, it is time to get back to earning some money. Always an uncertain venture around here!
Oremus pro invicem!