What have you googled lately?
It’s amazing… what words we put in that search. I'd be embarrassed to look at the last decade of my history. You could learn a lot about me. I assume the same with you too?
Is there anything you can’t discover or find out with just a few words placed in that box?
It’s hard to believe… but there was a day… just a few years back… when it did not exist. You could not type words to pull up information. You could not put an address in your iphone and get voice directions.
You had to ask a human.
You had to walk into a gas station and say… where is interstate 285? Feeling helpless and a little dumb… you had to ask. Or learning how to tie a bow tie, or change your breaks, you had to ask a friend or the guy down the road, and have them walk you through the steps.
When it comes to men, and masculinity…. I believe this is one of the great tragedies of our generation that has slowly crept in.
The process of how we obtain information.
We don’t ask for humans, and more specifically men, anymore.
And we don’t even know we need to.
Let’s be honest… as guys, we hate not having answers, not understanding, feeling like we are lesser or inadequate… there is something deep in our hearts that wants to come through, and so the idea to type into a screen a need or want, and get a youtube video of how to tie a bow tie, or change the oil, or … you name it.
It’s an easy relief. I want to avoid having to put that need out there.
So we get answers without a sense of shame. Or risking being seen a fool.
But masculinity… at its core is bestowed. Passed down… Masculinity passes down masculinity. You can’t do it on your own. It is given.
Robert Bly in Iron John says that masculinity is almost like food. And there is a nourishment when men pass down skills and hands on teaching. Just because you master something from a youtube video… is that true masculinity?
As men, we are hands on learners. Text books and screens don’t give us the experience we often need. The culture of boys and the rise of ADHD diagnosis and treatment plans has come about as we have stationed boys into cubicles and cultivated rows and made them sit for hours to listen in classrooms.
For most of us, we don’t learn that way.
It’s about the process, and doing, and failing, and struggling to figure it out. And it is older men that have that knowledge we need. We learn by going out, by risking, by exploring, by feeling the pain in our chest, and the joy in our heart of overcoming and achieving.
This all hit me last week when my good friend, Cory, sent me this video of young men out in Colorado, on a fishing trip with Training Ground where that evening after a day of fly fishing, they are learning from a veteran, Ron Smith, how tie a fly.
These young men are spending a summer, learning, exploring, and experiencing at the hands of men everything from a man’s place in work, to how to catch a trout with a fly they tie.
Check out this video…
On one level, it looks a little boring.
No Go-Pro stunts or comedy or action adventure we expect from a short clip.
But on another… there is such depth, and wonder… something so magical happening, I couldn’t help but watch. And keep watching.
A man with 50 years of fishing experience is teaching a group of young men how to tie a fly. Wow. Where have you been around something like that before?
Can you imagine a trip with older men and guides with hundreds of hours on the water? Teaching and showing the methods to cast and look for a trout in a stream?
It’s that process we need. In all areas of our life.
Here is my question…. Where are you learning these days? Where are men teaching you? Where are you taking that need to learn, experience, discover, and rule the world around you as a man?
Ironically, it took a youtube video for me as a good reminder, that I need something outside a youtube video.
I don’t need a google search box. Or more textbooks.
Can I make a suggestion?
Resist the urge to be a self made man through google or youtube. Whether the search for validation finds you on a porn site to satisfy a need to feel like a man, or the need for mastery on how to change the breaks on your car by a video… it is the same need. And what we deeply need can't be found on a screen.
Masculinity is bestowed, and passed own. It might be good to ask the question… what are we googling? And where might we the find the more authentic version of it? I bet it would require a little more risk, and a little more sweat, but I believe it will ultimately be worth it.