I was watching Jimmy Kimmel Live! the other night. Mark Ruffalo was Jimmy’s guest, and he was describing a time when he met one of his favorite actors, a hero of his, Sean Penn. Penn grabbed him at a movie premiere and took him for a drink. As they sat down to order, Ruffalo became anxious. He wanted to make a good impression. He wanted to show Penn who that he too was a masculine man. Kimmel chimed in saying, Well yeah, he’s about as masculine as it gets. Ruffalo, ordering first, ordered a Makers Mark bourbon, neat. Penn immediately ordered a white Russian. Ruffalo, caught off guard at the lack of masculinity of Penn’s drink, quickly changed his order to the same, which is what he’d truly wanted anyway.
The lesson: masculinity is a part of the Self, it’s who you are. It can’t be defined by a list of things that can be done to appear more masculine.
Masculinity is a journey. It’s forged in a man through his experience. Something in a man’s life, be it tribulation, opportunity, the guidance of a father or a friend, makes him more masculine than others. He could order the fruitiest drink at the bar but still look like a real, masculine man. The circumstances may change, but his masculinity doesn’t because it’s so engrained in the person he is.
Masculinity is, however, something that can be learned. Don’t think you’re lost in the world to be who you are at the moment if you’re not completely in line with the man you want to become (which has to be at the most, a bringing out of the powerful man you are in your soul, not a creation of some other being). Life is about internal and external evolution. There will be those that read this and say that masculinity can’t be taught, that it’s not something you can learn, it’s something you have to be.
What’s beautiful about anything in life, be it success, courage, passion, charisma, patience, hunger, or any other valiant characteristic, they can be learned. They are not innate. Through experience they may come to others more easily, but life isn’t about easy. Lessons are learned best through struggle and pain. If you have the courage to put yourself in the situations that will brand these values into your Self and psyche, then you too can learn them. Even something like masculinity; a characteristic of strength, assertiveness, and action, can be learned, developed, and created.
If you’re a guy, you possess it somewhere in your psyche. Today we’ll work on bringing it out, letting it breathe and grow.
Know What You Want
The heart of masculinity is boldness and assertiveness. To be a masculine male you need to know what you want, both in the greater scheme, as well as in the little stuff. In our hearts, we all know what we want, that knowledge, however, gets convoluted and lost in the sea of what we’re told we want, and what we think we want. It’s in clearing the noise that we get in touch with our masculinity, where we become the original, unique, masculine man that we are meant to be.
How do we clear the noise?
I start every morning in silence. I spend an hour reading and journalling. Writing my thoughts, my desires, and my goals down daily, and reviewing them weekly, has helped me better determine what I want in life. It’s brought clarity to a noisy, busy existence. One of the keys to self reflection is silence. We spend so little time alone and in silence that we don’t know our own, original thoughts. As a result, we don’t know what we truly want.
Assertiveness also needs to be practiced and improved. When you’re at a restaurant, know what you want to drink and eat and order. If you see a girl you like at the bar, walk up to her and start talking, who cares if you don’t know what to say, start with a joke (my favorite: Excuse me, do you know how much a polar bear weighs? … Enough to break the ice, [your name], nice to meet you). Assertiveness is a learned action. Practice it daily in every part of your life and it will translate to every area of your life.
Boldness and bravery go hand in hand. I immediately think of this quote when I hear the word “bold”:
“Be brave, my heart. Plant your feet and square your shoulders to the enemy. Meet him among the man-killing spears. Hold your ground. In victory, do not brag; in defeat, do not weep.” ~Archilochus
The bold man goes where others fear. He does what others are too lazy to do. As Murray says below, Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Boldness is taking action first and worrying about the consequences later. Pain can result from boldness, but safety is the way of too many men of today. So much gets talked about, but few actually do.
Live life with your heart leading your actions. Take pride in the fears you face daily, in the boldness of your goals, the audacity of your dreams. To be bold is to be masculine. To be timid and fearful is to kill your masculinity. If you want to be a masculine male, you need to be bold in your ways, courageous in your decisions and actions.
Live with a brass set of balls, a warriors spirit, and as Teddy said: Speak softly and carry a big stick.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” ― William Hutchison Murray
The masculine male takes action. He uses his mind, but while others are deliberating, he recognizes the time for action and moves forward.
“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Life is lived when we take action. So many waste their lives lived on the sidelines. The sidelines is no place for a man. He needs to be in the heat of the battle.
“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
No one remembers the man who had the greatest dreams, the greatest actions are the only things that count in life.
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