Hey, Man: You Have a Call On Line #1, a Woman

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Pick up the phone. 

Men, women are calling us out: wives, girlfriends, friends who are girls, and . . . both wives and girlfriends.

Some have been calling for a while; and your choice is about how to respond.

So what are the messages we are getting, when the callings come?

  • “Be a man, get on with your life, do what you are supposed to do”;
  • “You blew it … you were so consumed with yourself that you did not care about anyone else, and now I am gone …”;
  • “I don’t feel safe with you, or respected, or cherished…”;
  • “If you really want to connect, then you can make the effort…”;
  • “Grow up … I think you are looking for your mother …”

I’ll tell you a secret, guys: there is one message that I find very disruptive.  It’s when my wife calls me out … to greater things … to step up, and to be a better man.  It’s when she calls me out of my hiding, and to walk in the glory.  It’s disruptive because she is right to call me out.  It’s disruptive because she is loving me in a very powerful way.  And I really believe … that most of us … at given times, not always … are disrupted by true intimacy.

Why is that?

(The guy repeats the message on the intercom) “Hey, Wilder Man! Pick up line #1, Man!  She’s on hold.”

So, I push a button on the phone to respond to the guy: “Uhhh … Tell her … I am in the middle of something, and I will have to call her later.”

Garage Angst: My Treasures / Wife’s Junk

If it was up to me, I would not have tackled the outer garage today.  It was my wife’s idea.  She is an angel (not literally) … and we have had this discussion before, somewhat paraphrased below, between my wife (the angel) and me (the non-angel):

The Angel:  I want to get the outer garage cleaned out, today.
Non-angel:  You know, I think this is something we should both agree on.  I don’t WANT to work on the garage today.  If we do, its a lot of work, and it will take a great deal of time.
The Angel: That’s okay.  I’ll just work on it myself.
Non-angel: (Pause … an ominous pause) Yeah, I know how that works.  If I am not there with you, you might get rid of things that I don’t want to get rid of.  And … I will see you working in the garage and I start to feel guilty, and then … I’m sucked into the Garage Angst.
(My wife smiles a beautiful smile mixed with a slight mischievous grin …)
The Angel:  Well I guess you will just have to help me, then, so you don’t feel guilty.
(At least we are both laughing)
 

So, bravely I entered the Garage Angst.  Over the last three months, I have procured three different cabinets / chests from random finds along the mountain roads up here, where people put items out by the road that they do not want anymore.  These three “units” were like gold, as I thought of the cool stuff I could store in there …

The Angel:  These three cabinets / chests … are out of  here.
Non-angel:  No!  No, no, no.  I’m going to use them to store things in.
The Angel: Why haven’t you been using them?
Non-angel: Because I have not had time to get to them.
(My wife’s smirk says to me that she knows I will probably never get to them.  We negotiate, and I get to keep one, but two have to go.)
 

I have a well-worn leather tool belt: two different pouches for nails and / or wood screws; one holder for a hammer, two narrow pencil shaped slots for drill bits / razor knife / screwdriver – – – $5. WOW !!!  Anyway, the belt that went along with it was about two notches too small for my medium-sized girth, and I replaced it with another belt … But I wanted to keep the original belt.

The Angel:  Are you kidding me? This has to go!
Non-angel:  No.  You never know when it might come in handy.  Besides, it’s leather and leather is expensive.  And, I might go down to a 32 so that it would fit.
The Angel: This is the kind of thing that you don’t keep around. It just takes up space.
(The belt was sent into exile.)
 

Lastly, for today’s adventure, a pair of old boots came up for discussion.  My son’s boots are bigger than mine, and he was getting rid of his.  True they were old, and one of the dogs had gone after the back of the top of the shank, tearing it off …

The Angel:  Don’t you already have three pairs of boots?
Non-angel:  Yeah, Honey, but a mountain man always keeps extra boots.
The Angel: Once again, I’ll remind you: just because you live at 8800 feet in the mountains does NOT make you a mountain man.  Secondly … No.  The boots are going.  Look! Its torn in the back! 
 

I really don’t like cleaning out the garage.  Why?  Because afterwards I  admit (silently to myself) that she was right on this one.  Admittedly, it does look better.  The only problem is the garage angst, because  I didn’t really need the fourth pair of boots.

Men: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

English: sleeping dog
English: sleeping dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should sleeping dogs be allowed to lie? No, dogs should tell the truth.

Regardless of a hound’s reliable communication, I find joy having a sleeping dog nearby, stretched out like a lion on the Serengeti.

English: A lion and a lioness sleeping in the ...
English: A lion and a lioness sleeping in the Serengeti. Italiano: Un leone ed una leonessa dormono nel Serengeti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I not only appreciate a sleeping dog for the ethereal joy that comes from a slumbering hound, I also appreciate the sleeping dog as a metaphor /  illustration for choosing one’s battles.

Scenarios do emerge, issues do come up, along with questions: “Do I speak into this?”; “I feel passionate about this: should I say anything?”; “Do I let sleeping dogs lie (choose not to bite on the bait)?”; or “Do I fight this battle?”

A wilder man disrupts his world for the better or for the worse, choosing when & how it happens, and why it happens.  Good judgment calls.  Not-so-good judgment calls.  Sleeping dogs are, metaphorically,  the opposite of battles.

Wisdom in “choosing one’s battles” is not the same as the percieved call to fight every battle.  I know individuals who refuse to let a sleeping dog lie.  I know individuals who have a tendency to avoid every battle: let the sleeping dog lie.  And there are guys like me: some days I am William Wallace, ready to kick some butt; other days, I am sold out for sleeping dogs.

Murky waters.  Ambivalence.  A tension, between courage and avoidance; a mixed bag, humility and self-righteousness; wisdom and impulsivity.

There are times when I would like to sleep, as a sleeping dog, stretched out like a lion on the Serengeti, and leave it to others try to figure out what battle to fight.  Unfortunately, that is not an option.  I am very much in the “battle”, trying to make good choices.

Peace,

T

Defiant, Compliant, and Redemptively Wild

Tuesday Morn / February 19, 2013

My son gets defiant, sometimes.  I love him.  He’s my son.

“My son gets defiant, sometimes.  I love him.  He’s my son.”

The first line is me, talking about my son.

The second line is God, talking about me.

In the movie “Cool Hand Luke” a southern warden at a prison farm makes a statement, directed toward the protagonist portrayed by Paul Newman: “Whah wee ha’-av he’ah … is a fay-urr … to kuh-muh’ni-kate.”

Luke’s choice appears to be defiance … against a warden demanding compliance.  If you’ve seen the movie, which most of you probably have not, Paul Newman does a good job of being redemptively wild.  And yet, there is a paradox here; or as the warden would say “he’ah”.  Luke is a man in prison, and he is expected to be compliant.  But this system he is in the midst of is notably corrupt.  Thus, defiance; and / or redemptive wildness.

Today, men in America struggle with these three dynamics: defiance; compliance; and redemptive wildness.  Arguably, one cannot legitimately slam a “Yes Man”.  Maybe this is a case of semantics, a choice of words.  A “Company Man” has a positive connotation; a “Yes Man” has a negative connotation.  From my weathered, less than objective, perspective … I believe there is a difference, but that is not really the point here.

The “Yes Man” could be the wise one: a) he knows how to keep his job; b) he knows how to score points with upper management; c) he will get the promotions and the money; and d) he will avoid conflict.  Ahhh, compliance.

Meanwhile, another man struggles with: a) being talked down to; b) the feeling / perception that someone is trying to manipulate him; c) the expectation that he has to jump through hoops like a circus dog; and d) that he must always have the “right answer”, whether its true or false.

In my work with homeless addicts, I sat with men who carried a passionate defiance wherever they went.  Another paradox: in “the program”, a residential substance abuse rehab, some could “play” the compliance game.  There were two reasons for this.  One was that after 30-45 days they were sober from their substance; their mind had a rare clarity; and they saw some logic in compliance.  The second reason was that “the program” allowed them to take a vacation from their addiction, spending time getting three square meals daily, sleeping in a warm bed, and getting fresh clothes.

It should be noted that the characteristics above did not fit every man who came into the program.  Some men did not last one week of abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.  Some men left the program before their thirty-days goal.  Some men chose to break their sobriety, because of cravings, boredom, anger, defiance, or … (check this out) their desire to leave but they wanted to be kicked out of the program so they wouldn’t have to make the decision themselves.

Many of us are fathers with at least one child in the home.  Many of us are husbands with wives.  Some of us have mortgage payments; bills to pay; the need for medical insurance.  Thus, there is a sizeable incentive for compliance; and very little incentive to choose defiance, in any shape or form.  This is obviously not a bad thing.

One question on the table: is there any redemptive wildness happening?  When I chose to get married, I made a commitment to never be a “Yes, Dear” husband.  Over the years, there are times when I drop the ball on that commitment.  Most of the time, however, the terror of becoming a “Yes, Dear” husband drives me to keep my eyes on that fine line.

One reason for my continued commitment is my belief that my wife needs a man who will not become a “Yes, Dear” husband.  More specifically, my wife needs a man with wildness.  That is who she married; not the “Yes Dear” husband.

Living with all of this can be a thick-like-molasses tension. There is no doubt that I have missed opportunities because of my difficulty finding a balance between the three.  As a result, I live with some degree of regret: less money in the bank; not much status in the realm of “So, what do you do?”; and the increasingly obvious stamp that other men can see when we meet.

Living without regret; guarding the wildness that I still have; living without self-condemnation; choosing wisdom along the way; and trusting God in this process: its not as easy I would have imagined thirty years ago.

Okay.  I’m out.  My hat is off to you who are redemptively wild.

Wilder Man On Rolling Creek