Monday, July 29, 2013

To Begin

I feel like someone lit a fire underneath me. Around my first wedding anniversary my wife and I discovered the pencil-eraser-sized, very old birth mark near my shin, had a dirty little secret. In a phone call our life changed, just like that.

That innocent looking spot turned out to be Stage III Melanoma. It had already traveled to a lymph cluster in my abdomen. Sleepless nights, big decisions, temptations to listen to that ridiculous song "Live Like You Were Dyin'" (it's one of those country ballads that is meant to pull at your heartstrings... It's a cheap shot kinda song). 

A couple surgeries later I have what the doctors call "No Evidence of Disease" but they're still worried it's going to come back somewhere else. It's an invasive and agressive cancer they say.

In the middle of all of this I got my hands on a book called Manvotionals: The Seven Manly Virtues by Brett and Kate McKay over at I got it first for my father because it sounded right up his ally. The McKay's took selected writings by authors from Aristotele to Martin Luther King Jr. that touch on the seven manly virtues: Manliness, Courage, Industry, Resolution, Self-Reliance, Discipline and Honor. 

This was all a big wake up call. Yeah, it's cliche, who cares. Something big was saying, "Hey kid, kick it in gear. Live. Be a man."

And that screaming loud voice echoes in my ear all day long, like someone lit a fire underneath me.

Learning how to live is tough. Learning to be a man, a real man is tough. Not the goof they put on TV, or the vain honor-less shells in the magazines, the brawny shallow thugs in the movies or the thieving selfish politicians of today. Where is there an example of true manliness in our culture?

I appreciate the McKays for their book because they offer an incredible starting point. Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Frederick Douglass, Ernest Hemmingway, Harry Houdini. What have names like these accomplished to set them apart from the millions of lonely gravestones in vacant cemeteries?

When I hear about people wanting to live to the fullest I think sky-diving, elaborate travel, throwing caution to the wind. What comes, at least to my mind, is an external pursuit to experience all the world has to offer.

That desire has not gripped me. The conviction that possesses my mind is an internal voyage. I want to dig down with tenacious energy and develop who I am meant to be. And if a time comes when unexpectedly my breath might run out, should I find myself in an interview with whatever creative powers that be, when accounting my time I would shudder to discover any preventable fault of mine regarding my character.

I hope to use this blog to record my journey to true manhood. If other's wish to follow along, I would enjoy the company. The road is uncommon and treacherous but with a careful eye there are noticeable footprints of well-traveled shoes worn by great men. 

Sorry these sentences seem intense... I've been reading too many old books lately.

The point is, here is where I'll be elaborating on things I'm reading, subjects I'm studying, interesting events, poetry, music, art. Discussion is definitely welcome, so if you feel inclined please ask questions in the comments area and I'll answer back. Perhaps we can get a few merry discussions going about some important topics.

Either way... they told me writing is supposed to help get my feelings out or something like that.