Any older gentlemen read Brett's Magnum Opus? I read large chunks of it, and want to hit it better over the long weekend.
As I went through the lengthy sets of recommendations, I could not help but feel wave after wave of sadness run through me.
I realized most of my life is now past me, and so much of the list is beyond the reach of a middle aged man who is daily living with the results of living a life avoiding so much of what Brett mentions: physical challenge, hardship, confrontation, competition, and most of all, connection.
Am I the only one who feels that way over this piece? I am glad for the younger man who reads it and can take action, but the gladness is tempered with something I've never felt before about my life: regret.
I may get no response here, as these older groups seem to be dormant, so consider this a mini blog of mine placed here.
I also don't want feedback from younger men, as they can't understand until they have reached this age.
I have not yet read Brett's posting, but I can tell you that age should not be a true roadblock for achieving anything in life. I'm in my late 50s and yes, there are certain things I can no longer do, things I used to be able to do (sometimes quite well) and others I should've done back then. I can no longer play basketball or baseball, things I loved doing as a youth and young man. But I took up the study of martial arts at 41 and am on the verge of achieving a black belt in my 2nd discipline, after getting one in my first a few years ago. Age is no barrier to studying the martial arts. Some are more apt for younger people but very few are too hard for any age group. You just have to make accomodations. I no longer spar in competition, for example, because I'd probably be matched against much younger competitors and having had knee replacement surgery not long ago, sparring a younger, faster guy would not be wise.
You may never climb a mountain or serve in combat or a lot of other manly things, but there are still plenty of manly things you can and should do. Just remember what Dirty Harry said: "A man's got to know his limitations", and you'll do fine.
Thanks for your reply,
Time is my limitation.
I know I am not alone on that one. The few men I know beyond a "hi" my age are all time-strapped; long commutes, long hours. Family responsibilities taking kids to their activities, caring for an aged parent, which has really been affecting me lately. What little time I have left is gobbled up by my volunteer activities, which are the only joys I have lately, as my job no longer challenges me.
Your suggestion is well-intentioned, but an impossible luxury right now.
Also, you sound like you've had a fairly healthy early manhood you can look back at and be pleased; been there, done that.
I have not.
Trust me, my young manhood was far from ideal. It was only in my mid-30s that I emerged from a tough divorce and, thanks in large part to a great woman who became my wife, began turning things around. Had I stayed single it would've been harder but still possible.
Martial arts training isn't possible for everyone, nor is it meant for everyone (although I firmly believe almost anyone can do it). There may be no training available in your area, or it may not be financially feasible at the time. At the very least you should set aside time to engage in physical training of some kind. This is vital, not only for your physical health but mental health as well. If you can combine or enhance that with martial arts, all the better. If you'd like to email me I can route you to some pretty good online resources. Check my profile.
I should also mention that religious faith has played a big role in whatever "renewal" I've been able to accomplish. Spiritual health is just as important as physical and mental health, perhaps more so.
I do train regularly a simple powerlifting program for strength, at great cost to my daily schedule. That is one thing I have going for me, thanks for the link offer.
I've read the same, and recommend exploring it further.
Maybe a Crossfit style place? I've had a few open up by my office, the only problem is they are very expensive.
I've heard of standing desks, that are manned standing up. Maybe you can request one.
My job has me standing much, and I do make a point of standing when I work, in addition to my field work.
You'll find cycling is easier on the knees. Get a bike shop guy to set up your bike for you, makes a lot of difference.
I didn’t really want to join this group, but feel that maybe I have a different and hopefully helpful perspective. I know you said you don’t want comments from younger guys, but feel that at 45 years old that I no longer qualify as “young” no matter how much I may want. Add to that some pretty high mileage and I feel that I have earned my perspective. I really wouldn’t care much about this post if someone else had posted it, but I feel that you are a very level headed member and even though I feel you usually under-rate yourself; you are one of the few on this site that I would sit back and have a friendly beer with.
WARNING – this is going to be long and comes strictly from my experiences and outlook. Make of it want you want. I am going to break down Chapter 2: The Manhood Reserve Training Program and Exercises and address them as I feel fit.
1. Increase Testosterone – a lot of this is actually addressed in the following points in this chapter. Mostly this can be broken down into things you probably already do: exercise (I remember you said you are doing 5/3/1 and I may be in touch with you about that in the near future) and following a healthy diet.
2. Build your physical strength - As stated in #1. You are already doing both of these action steps since you are exercising and you stated that you try not to be sedentary at work.
3. Develop physical toughness - Probably the most useful of these is the “increase mobility and flexibility”. If you are not already doing it (I am very hit and miss on this) check out Joe Defranco’s Agile 8 or Limber 11 on youtube. Rucking is just backpacking that sucks. If you have time to go for a walk you can do this. If not…..focus on the mobility as it will be worth more at our increasing age.
4. Develop mental/emotional toughness - I find that this “emotional and mental toughness” thing is too much of a new age type thing for me. But I am not really comfortable with a lot of emotion. I have fasted but never on purpose and I think it directly contradicts # 1 and 2. I feel about the only really good thing in these action steps is the tactical breathing. It is a great way to lower heart rate and gain focus under stress. This stress could be from getting ready to breach a building or it could be a presentation for work. It would be great to have a life plan and purpose……but I don’t know 1 single person who has one.
5. Learn to fight - I see how learning to fight can be important. I think more important would be to throw on headgear and gloves and learn to get hit. This teaches you that you can recover and that getting hit is not the end. I have known a lot of tough martial arts guys that were afraid to get hit.
6. Go hunting - I have been hunting maybe 3 times in my life and all 3 times I came up empty handed. I can see it as a way to tap into that primal “hunter” instinct, but I don’t think it is vital. If someone offered to take me hunting at this point I would probably pass. I am sure that you could find something else that would help you tap into this that would fit your lifestyle, personality, and time better. If you want we can play around with this idea further.
7. Seek independence, self-reliance, and autonomy - Getting out of debt is something that everyone should aim for. It is not always readily possible but with some budgeting and will-power it should be possible for most people. I find the last 3 of these action steps to be the most practical. Partly because I live in an area that sometimes has water shortages, power outages, etc. So it is always good to have a case or 2 of water around and some canned goods. A bugout bag is always a good idea at some level. I got to the point that even when I fly I carry a compass and little flashlight in my carry-on bag.
8. Become capable and competent - Fairly straight forward and not very time consuming (except for learning a language). A lot of this is practice. I understand (or believe I do) that you lack some self-confidence. I believe this is something that you make more apparent than it actually is. Confidence can be faked until it becomes natural.
9. Gain mastery - This should actually be “SEEK mastery” rather than “gain” mastery. One of the examples given is marksmanship. I know guys that have taught at the sniper committee and they throw a round now and then. Is that actually mastery? I hope that I never achieve mastery because then I can no longer learn anything about that subject. Learning is something I enjoy.
10. Take risks and develop courage - Some of these are very do-able and would be good for you to develop your self-confidence. Have you looked into Toastmasters? That would give you the perfect opportunity to give a public speech and face one of the greatest common fears shared by the population in a “safe” environment.
11. Embrace competition - I hate team sports. I don’t play them. I am my greatest competition in anything I do. I somehow managed to graduate Cum Laude when I earned my bachelor’s degree. Not because of external competition, but because I had to do my best. I think that is all anyone can do and what everyone should strive to do.
12. Complete a rite of passage - This may be the toughest one, especially if time and money are a factor. If you have the time a few hours a week I can recommend getting involved with your local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) sponsored through Americorps. I enjoyed the 30-40 hours of training and even put forth some time on the training committee for my city for awhile. But this right of passage can be yours. It doesn’t need others. It could be just over-coming a personal challenge.
13. Go on adventures - This is another that can be tough if time and money are a factor. But it doesn’t have to be. Start small just by breaking out of a rut. Take a different way to work, stop into a restaurant or store that has caught your eye but you always said you would do it another time. As time progresses and your schedule allows it will be easier for you to do something more adventurous.
14. Spend time with nature and get out in the wild - Again this is a little redundant as it was covered in pieces before. Getting into nature may not be an option because of time or where you live. But maybe the local park is an option. Or maybe something like taking more notice of the nature and wildlife around you such as putting up a bird feeder or planting something you can tend and enjoy seeing.
15. Create more, consume less - You stated earlier that you do volunteer work so maybe you have this covered. If not there is something you may not have considered…..being a mentor. You may or may not realize it but you probably already are serving as one to someone on this site.
I think you are making a lot of this far more difficult than it needs to be. None of this is the measure of a man, but can help you live a more complete and fulfilled life.
You and your vodka can surely turn a phrase my friend. Happy 4th.
Agreed. Maybe vodka should be my muse!
Damn, you do have a way.
Tip my hat to you.
All the best this Fourth to you; both of you.
Where the rubber meets the road.
PS I've become a clear-liquid-poison drinker myself. Gets to the brain faster without all the extra fluid.
I myself have favored the clear drinks. I fancy myself as a vodka or gin drinker when I am not drinking beer. Shane has some great advice; and I will attempt to fill in after I get some sleep and ward off some of those aforementioned 4th of July Evils! Have a good one and be safe.
I was wondering when Shane would turn up in this, lol.
I am honored by your beer comment, but I don't know if I'd make the best drinking companion as Shane can attest. At best it would be the comparing of notes from two totally separate paths, with little shared experience.
Back to business; I am deeply honored that you took the time to go through the piece, and then, section by section, go through it with with me.
It made me realize maybe I am farther down that path than I thought, as I've actually done a bit of what you've suggested already in the past year.
But more importantly, you've spun Brett's action items to things someone with perhaps 20 good years left can do, rather than an entire adult lifespan.
So, thanks again, and this Fourth weekend I'll be delving deeply into this.
And please ask any questions about the 5 3 1. Shane thinks there's too much math, but I think he's being a big baby.