My personal journey of attempting to define what it means to be a man has been a long and arduous process that I am honestly unsure if I will ever find the desired goal. The process has been the most sculpting and humbling thing of all it would seem. This quote seems appropriate to this subject context.
“The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.” ~ Lao Tzu
Since “The Man Effect” was started out of my personal desire of wondering what it means to be a man cross-pollinated with my desire to do a photography project, I thought it was finally time to sit down and write about why I long to be a masculine, because I believe this will help give context and understanding to my motives for this project.
Let us jump right in. I am sitting here in a bustling coffee shop sipping my tea and pondering the depths of my motivations; I think we are going to have to go back further than the present day and age to help paint a more clear picture. In doing this, the hope is you will understand more of my thought process. I originate from a simple southern Minnesotan upbringing. My father was the blue collar provider, my mother stayed at home and was industrious with her time. We went to church without fail every Sunday. I was the youngest of four kids and my brother Judah who was two years older than I; we spent hours and hours playing outside in the cornfields and rivers that surrounded our immediate milieu.
Thinking back to my upbringing is forcing me to realize how much my father's presence and lack thereof shaped my view of masculinity. I want to be clear I love him, but he is human, and my thoughts need to be transparent so please understand he means the world to me but I do not want to ignore things that have influenced or shaped my thought processes.
What I learned from my father and the other male figures in my life when I was young is this; men work hard, they are beings of unwavering integrity, and they can fix anything if need be. Men are spiritual, they respect, love and protect women and children, they don’t have many emotions, they don’t have fun, men are a safe place, they are angry, and they sacrifice themselves for others. I am sure I will think of more attributes later. I find pain as I think back and look into this previous era of my life. It makes me wonder at the core what are my real motivations? Some of the above idiosyncrasies listed are good, and some aren't. More so, I feel exponentially stirred up inside because, these virtues have shaped who I am, present day Timothy is a product of what twelve-year-old Timothy perceived to be true about masculinity. The men in my life back then had so much direct and indirect influence on my life it is baffling to me.
I can honestly say I have never had the desire to be my father, nor the desire not to be him. I have loved and respected him without a doubt, but more so I think overall I just wish to be masculine. I have in the past and currently do desire to be recognized and affirmed as a man. The moments in my life currently when I feel respected, and acknowledged as such, I instantly feel a deep sense of fulfillment that strikes my inner core. It is as though someone is scratching a part of my back that I cannot reach.
So back to the main question. Why do I honestly desire to be masculine? Why have I spent years of my life seeking an answer to this issue? Why won’t I just move on?
Part of me believes it is my meaning in life. To go on this epic journey of finding and discovering masculinity. The other side of me feels it is just the fact that I am seeking a sense of stability, and I think part of me believes this conquest will reveal to me what I seek. Maybe my desire to be masculine is my wish to feel purpose and fulfillment. To be masculine is translated in my mind as being stable, secure, or unwavering. I think this desire is me seeking an answer to my problems in life. It is me searching for a purpose. So it seems my questions should be restated to this, “Why do I desire a purpose?” That seems more accurate. Every masculine role I respect in history or the films I love, the men have a purpose and meaning to overcome the mountain of adversity that sits before them. Currently, the only motivation I have to overcome my day to day difficulty is that I don’t want to give up on life. I am not content with this; I think someone who is masculine is someone who knows their purpose.
In my attempt to evaluate honestly my desire to be masculine, I found a desire not to be wavered by the adversity that lays before me. It is as though the ideal man in my mind is so secure and courageous that whatever comes his was is like a bear being confronted by a singular ant. Even in writing that last statement, I externally laughed at myself. This perception of masculinity is ridiculous. If I know anything to be true in life is that the world without adversity is not worth living. Challenges are what shape and expose humankind for what it honestly is. Hellen Keller said it best, "All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming." Overcoming is what shapes men into men. So the idea of being so talented and equipped with tools that adversity shrivels in ones presence is simply absurd. Overcoming is the foundation of everything healthy and good.
In conclusion, I have learned this. My desire to be masculine is a two faced desire. I want to be a better society contributing individual, but I also want to feel so secure and tough that whatever life throws at me I am unphased. I find this honest perception of my longing for masculinity to be ironic and unrealistic. Writing this has helped me take another step in the direction I want though. I hope to face what life throws at me and overcome rather than run away. Will you join me in this journey?
Why do you honestly desire to be masculine?