You’ve got that right, brother. Fierce! It may be buried deeply, but fierce is there.
Wild at Heart
I’ve been re-reading an old (relatively) favorite book, Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. The book describes the characteristics of a man’s heart, how those characteristics have been buried and how they can be awakened.
There are too many great passages from the book to list (in just one post, which is why I’ll refer to this book many times in the coming months), but one has stuck with me at the moment:
“Life needs a man to be fierce—and fiercely devoted. The wounds he will take throughout his life will cause him to lose heart if all he has been trained to be is soft.”
Those two sentences hold a world of meaning. First, for a man to feel alive, he needs to be fierce. Attacking the obstacle/goal/problem with strength. He’s going to beat it into submission and it will be unrecognizable when he’s done with it.
Lest ye think I’m simply a warmonger, that same ferocity is applied to devotion. Devotion to wife, devotion to children, devotion to family, and so on. I believe that when a man feels powerful, every aspect of his life and, naturally, the lives of those with whom he is intertwined are enhanced.
The second sentence in that quote, “The wounds he will take throughout his life…,” however, can lead to utter destruction. That is particularly true given the time in which we live, which led me to dig another quote from within my memory (no small feat) and then find the book from whence it came, as an illustration. This is from Jack Donovan’s, The Way of Men, and it clearly and accurately summarizes what we face:
“In a complex, cosmopolitan, individualistic, disunited civilization with many thin, à la carte identities, The Way of Men is unclear. The ways touted by rich and powerful men are tossed with the ways of gurus and ideologues and jumbled with the macho trinkets of merchants in such a mess that it’s easy to see why some say masculinity can mean anything, everything, or nothing at all.”
Everyone, not just men, take several daggers to the backside, the chest, the eye sockets, the extremities and mid-section on a daily basis. When softness has been fostered, the Palladium that powers Ironman’s arc reactor is drained, and quickly. Before too long, we feel like powerless, worthless, loser drones stumbling through life. For decades, men have heard the conflicting ideas of what being a man means. To be sure, women have also heard the conflicting ideas of what it means to be a woman. I believe we both (men and women) know what brings us alive. It is not a “meeting in the middle.” It certainly isn’t the taming of the male or the curtailing of the woman.
All is not lost, because we each know what it is that fuels our fire. We just have to go in and drag it out. Let me tell you, after decades of being buried deep within, and I’m speaking societally, and possibly years worth of our own burying, it’s no easy task.
Han and Leia
I’m a huge (or “Yuge,” as The Donald would say) fan of Star Wars. So, the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia comes to mind, conveniently, as the epitome of how a vicious fire is kindled between a man and a woman. “Vicious” is a good thing in this context.
Han wants to win the battle in which he reluctantly finds himself against the Empire, but that’s not the extent of it. Like most men, he also seeks to be the dashing hero in the eyes of Leia. Leia, in turn, wants to be a part of that battle and relishes the role she plays with Han. Not simply as the poor damsel in distress, but a captivating and fully engaged participant in the great struggle. In this way, the level of fierce achieved is startling. And, it isn’t just possible in the movies. The same can be achieved in real life.
(Another great example is Jamie and Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. So far, I’m one of only a handful of men who has read the books, a fact I don’t at all understand.)
Feel the Burn!!
I like to feel the ferocity, that burning fire; like a Viking about to pillage and level a coastal town, figuratively, of course. In my case, the pillaging comes in the form of attacking the writing of a book, because it’s the battle of the moment, it’s my thing, and, by God, it will be conquered!!
How much we can do when we kindle our fire! It’s sad to watch a match burn, fade, and die. When it’s gone, there’s absolutely nothing left for it to do, except fertilize the soil. Fortunately, people simply settle into routine dronery (that’s not a word, but I like it), they don’t really burn completely out during their lives, usually.
How sad is that? Enduring a numbness brought on by the fear of failure, the fear of ridicule and talk, the fear of success. Going through life afraid to reach inside themselves and pull out a scorching ball of fire that makes them feel alive. Maybe the match example isn’t so bad, after all.
How many lives will be impacted when each of us gets out of the boat and start pillaging our droneness? How many fires will be lit?
The first place we can start is putting a name to the thing that will kindle our fires. Do it first in the comments below and then run with that ball of fire!
Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition (2011)
Donovan, Jack. The Way of Men (2006).