Day 21: What It’s All About
A big emphasis of my 30 Days has been the physical component: getting in shape and getting stronger. There are a few reasons for this:
- Our bodies are temples — they are part of all of our fields which we’ve been given to tend. We should be taking care of our bodies with the same attention that we devote to our finances, retirement accounts, and careers. If you ruin your body, those other things won’t matter any way because you won’t be around long, or won’t be able to enjoy them between all the doctors visits.
- When I’m physically strong, I feel like it helps my mental functioning and I have more energy to take on the day — more energy to devote to tending my fields.
- Appearances matter to some extent — they aren’t and shouldn’t be everything, but for some people in this world they mean a lot and understandably so. If you were an employer and hiring someone to represent your company to the world, would you be more likely to hire the morbidly obese man with his shirt tail hanging and a mustard stain on his collar or the guy whose clothes fit and doesn’t seem to be a step away from a coronary after taking the stairs? I know we can’t judge a book by its cover, but a cover might give you an IDEA about what’s inside the book — someone who looks like a slob might be a genius, but that genius may also be a slob…or the guy who looks like a slob might just be a slob.
- A man stands between and against whatever danger threatens those who’ve been entrusted to our care.
But, with all of this being said, I’m not saying your physicality is the most important thing and you can accomplish great things in your own 30 Days without that emphasis — don’t let it hold you back if working out in the way I’ve described just isn’t your thing. Real strength isn’t about the size of your muscles or whether or not you have a six pack.
An excellent illustration of this concept is in Manfield’s Book of Manly Men, which if you’ve been reading along, has been recounted in great detail in this story. Manfield talks about Vision in one of the chapters of the book, and uses the story of Rudyard Kipling’s life to illustrate this character trait. You’ll have to buy the book (no I’m not affiliated or getting any money off this if you do) to get the whole story, but here is the basic idea of the chapter:
What Rudyard Kipling teaches us, among so much else, is that rugged, courageous manhood is not exclusively a matter of strength and speed, of physical skill and athletic prowess. It is first a condition of soul: a vision of what masculinity is and can be.
Knowing this frees us from a trite brand of manhood that is only about the life of the body and the physical world. Instead it teaches us that genuine manhood grows from a man’s inner life. It is born of a sense of responsibility and oriented to virtues that have the power to distinguish the life of a man from every other kind of life on earth.
So muscles don’t make the man. Your inner life is where your strength comes from. For me, my strength comes from God, every day of this 30 Days I’ve had to rely on and ask God for the strength to do the things I’ve been doing… Without that strength that he gave me, I would have failed and stopped all this long ago.
Wherever you find your strength in your inner life, true manhood — noble manhood flows from a courageous, rightly-oriented soul focused on drawing near to what is good, noble, pure, honorable, in this world.
Kipling’s poem, If — , speaks to these virtues, and the condition of the soul that allows us to achieve a masculinity based in virtue. Challenge yourself, weigh yourself against these words:
If can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not there. This 30 Days is about getting closer, and I’m closer than I was 21 days ago.
I just said that “I don’t know about you,” but I do. If you’re reading this, and you’ve got this far, it’s because something in these words has been speaking to you, speaking to something deep inside of you that you might not be able to explain with words. You know that whatever it is, whatever that feeling or longing that you’re experiencing is, is something that is right and good. So chase after it. Challenge yourself. Show yourself a man. It’s never too late as long as you’re breathing.
Links to Past Episodes/Resources:
If you have any feedback, please send me a message or leave it on my Facebook page: Thirty Days. This is a new project and I’d love to hear your thoughts. It is a tremendous encouragement to know that someone is reading this. Encouragement, comments AND criticism are welcome.