Tear Down Your Idols. [August 22nd, 2011]
There are words that should never remain unspoken. There are words that should never need to be spelled out.
At every turn, they proselytize and pander. They offer you their 12-steps to survival. Their 10 steps to success. Their 5 steps to a better you. Their countdown to that inevitable feeling that you are hustling backwards and have been left empty-handed. These are the tenets of the snake-handling car-salesmen who have long purported to teach us how to be men. These are the half-truths to which we will henceforth turn a deaf ear.
At some point, someone cobbled together the myth that men function as a monolith, and should be treated as such. We became that lumbering herd that shoulders toward, and over, the cliff of endless indifference. Content that our collective failures will go unnoticed amidst the elephant graves of those who once dared to be individuals. No, I’ve never met your father. But I’d wager he never needed a magazine to teach him how to raise his son. I imagine he never sought the unsolicited advice of a faceless circle of marketers who regurgitated platitudes about what a real man should eat, think, or wear.
For many of us, life imitates art. We dutifully colored inside the lines, until the lines began to imprison us. Like the jobs we fought so hard to get, knowing that deep down inside we never really wanted them. Like the cars we drove, knowing that they made other people want to be us. Hoping that, if only for a moment, we could feel how they feel, and forget who we truly are. Like the holes we dig inside ourselves…the ones that only liquor and loved ones can fill.
And so we turn to the simple solutions. We look to those who seem to have it together. We ask them what to do. We ask them how to dress. We beg them to reveal what it is that women want to see in us. Oftentimes, without first asking what it is that we see in ourselves. And always, without wondering what sense it makes to seek direction from someone who seems to have no discernible moral compass. Struggling to decipher the garbled messages in their broken records. Never noticing that when convenient, their opinions backslide quickly enough to make sparks fly.
There will come a day. Perhaps, for you, it happened long ago. Or perhaps it will come with the dawn after the next series of sleepless nights. You will decide to walk whichever path your bare feet take you on, regardless of the shoes you have been told to fill. This is the unbridled hubris of the ever-evolving man. This is the only way that those who have ever made anything of themselves know how. As your father did before you, and as all real men have done before him: Tear down your idols. Find your own way.