Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wanted: A Few Deep Men

I do not have a Wii and have no desire to get one. I am not active in any sort of fantasy sports league. I have given up on golf, do not hunt or fish, and see items such as cars as a means to an end. My hair is longish and a bit messy and my wardrobe simplistic.

Go on and on, I could. Bottom line: A lot of the stuff and effort that interests, intrigues, and separates the modern day western male from his money...and keeps him living above the surface of what truly matters, holds zero interest with me.

I have many, many acquaintances with whom I often have fun or carry out business--but few close friends. The ones that are close include both females and males; I have long since dismissed the stereotype, often perpetuated by the church, that men and women cannot genuinely be friends. The close female friendships tend to develop much more rapidly, as has been the case for about 25 years. The close male friendships are more elusive and take much longer to cultivate.

In each season of life I have had but a precious handful of close male friends, and these guys and I always share a consistent common denominator: our conversations and the bulk of our time revolve around substance and are teeming with transparency.

Men, with all due respect: most of you, frankly, are hard to pin down. I seldom know what you truly think or feel because you hide behind your distractions, behind your busyness, behind your fantasy draft updates, behind your work or your toys or your collections or your cliches. I wonder why you persist in hiding, because it weakens the resolve of other men around you who wish they did not have to hide as much. I wonder why, especially if you are religious, you get so legalistic and wear your perceived righteousness like a badge of honor while gritting your teeth against temptation instead of opening up about it.

It is easy to get caught up in all of your pretense because I, too, like most human beings, want to fit in and be accepted most of the time. I, too, get ensnared in the charade of all the "Great to see you's" and "I'm good/How are you/Good!/That's great!" greetings and all the "How've you been?/Busy!" exchanges that permeate the daily interactions of the bulk of men so immersed unawares in quiet desperation.

I want to have just as much fun as you do, but to me the fun and laughter and sense of adrenaline are multiplied when shared with people who can also pause and reflect. And drop the posing. And be willing to stare into the emptiness that is shared by so many guys but admitted by so few, so that we might help each other find things of substance that vanquish that same emptiness.

So what am I seeking in other men, as well as in myself? Laugh if you must, but the type of man whom I think is most in need during these turbulent times can best be described as the Warrior-Poet.

Who is this man (or woman, who fulfills the role far more consistently; but I am focused on guys right now), the Warrior-Poet?

He fights for principles about which he is strongly convicted. He looks cheating, greed, injustice, prejudice and stealing in the eye and fights back, and damn be the consequences. As a warrior, he will pour all of his energy and strength into defending what is worthy and will not hide behind his excuses, his fears, his insecurities or his toys. What he does he does with passion, be it fighting, loving, serving or working.

But he is also a poet. He is deeply in touch with his intuitive side, with his emotions, with his creativity--and with his heart. He will not withhold tenderness toward those who care for him or those who hurt. He will give quality time to those whom he loves. He is willing to be transparent with others who are willing to be as well. And he is no less the warrior for doing so, for his life is a seamless blend of waging war against things that tear people down and reaching inside of himself to build people up with the gift of his unequaled perspective.

He is flawed, mind you, like all people. He screws up, pretty regularly, because his judgment is not always sound and he can be impulsive, like anybody else. When he gets too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, he loses sight of the bigger picture and acts in haste. But he is self-aware enough to recognize his flaws and face them head on and move forward, striving each day to be a little more authentic and consistent. He does not stress himself out trying to pretend he is anything less than flawed, anything more than an earthen vessel with cracks and blemishes yet capable of holding so much treasure.

I believe it is pretty rare to find genuine Warrior-Poets among men these days. The example that constantly comes to mind for me is David of the Old Testament, that warrior who defeated armies out of his passion for Yahweh--and that poet and musician who composed so many of the Psalms that reveal the extent of how deep that passion flowed. He, like us, was painfully imperfect and made mistakes for which he and others suffered dearly, and at times was caught up in his own hubris...but damn it, he was a man. He had grit. He could fight and he could feel, he could destroy what was evil and love what was good. He could rally Israel with the thunder of his sound rhetoric, and openly weep for Absalom from the bottomless well of his grief. He was fully alive, fully engaged with all of his dimensions.

So, guys, I'll put it on the line here: because I am fairly intuitive and in touch with my feelings in general, I get a pretty consistent picture of what my close female friends are seeking in their husbands or boyfriends (or future partners if they are currently single). These friends are transparent enough to share what they are looking for in you. Like me, they are fairly bored with the status quo and are looking for more of the Warrior-Poet in you to emerge at last.

And if I am wrong about this perception, then I hope they will leave comments on this blog and tell me so. For they are good enough friends to have by now told me whether I am full of crap, because they have a pretty good feel for how I think about things that matter. This blog entry will not surprise them.

Guys, if you are still reading at this point, know there is a smile on my face as I write. I am not some angry dude tapping away with fury at his keyboard. Lonely is the better adjective, because no matter how hard I have tried in the past I am not satisfied with only living above the surface with you. So it is a sad smile, I must admit. But on a face marked with resolve.

Therefore I will keep going deep, and am hopeful that more of you will join me on this journey through the depths of what it means to be fully and seamlessly alive and engaged. And many thanks to those of you, female and male, who are already with me.


At 3:30 PM , Anonymous Melissa said...

John, great blog. This is why I like you (and adore your wife) so much. I'm forwarding your link on to Bill. Who, by the way, says Go 'Noles. Which, we know, is one of the manly dude things you DO care about.

At 1:28 PM , Blogger Mark K. said...

Hi John, I am a first time reader. My wife forwarded this to me because it is something I have been talking to her about for many years now. You are right on with your thoughts about men being so shallow and afraid to let anyone look through their walls.

I have been fortunate to have had some great friends who have shared life with me, not many on a deep level, but to ask more than 2 or 3 to go deeper at a time may be asking too much. I believe that it is best done with a group of 4 or so max.

When I lived in Florida, I had 3 good friends, and 2 of them were really close. I only felt comfortable pouring my heart out to 1 of them. Now that I am in seminary in KY, I have found the same to be true. I have many friends, but I have 2 up here that are closer to me than my own brother.

Relationships are a process, they start over a cup of coffee or breakfast and take time to grow.

I have been blessed, I have 3 friends (brothers) that I can count on for anything at anytime. That would probably a great VISA commercial!



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