The Plight (and Opportunity) of the Young

Once I’m awake in the morning, I’m awake for the day, regardless of the time.  In that regard, being forced up so early in the morning with baby can have it’s advantages.  Eventually she’ll go back down for her first nap of the day, and I’ll be up for some blessed quiet time while hubby crawls back into his blanket cave for some extra zzz’s.  But me?  I find it a particularly inspiring time to ingest the niche tastings of the online Open Letter.  Todays find was by David Cain, author of the awesome blog raptitude.com, entitled ‘Dear Young Men’.

http://www.raptitude.com/2014/09/dear-young-men/

Given my lack of experience at being a teenage boy, and thinking back to being 14 and trying to navigate the social & sexual minefield that existed in the pit-hole that was High School, I was intrigued by the male point of view on the subject.  As it turns out, 29 year old non-male me found the kind of advice she never expected but always wanted.  To me that’s always the best kind of knowledge, where the experience of others teaches you things about yourself you didn’t realise were there to even discover. I wanted to find something in this article in particular to quote and comment on, but it really is most fantastic as a whole.  There are 2 things I will say though.  Firstly, the conclusion of this letter addresses something I think a lot of stories of this type fail to point out – the fact that the playing field of men and women as equal humans presents a very new game for society.  We have existed as a species in our current form for c. 200,000 years and only in the last century has there been an attempt at a global shift to gender equality, in the first world at least.  We have 10’s of thousands of years of ingrained and instinctual behaviours which we are now attempting to over-write, and each generation is handing the responsibility of that action to young men and women in an increasingly sexualised and public world.  I agree that young people are where the change needs to be in order to create a new norm, however giving tweens and teens, people who don’t know who they even are, the responsibility of changing the psyche of an entire species without context and guidance feels like handing them a gun that randomly fires and telling them not to kill anyone.  Defining what that norm should be is in itself a coat of many colours, most of which are explored in David’s article.  The battle of becoming and being a man is best articulated in this article for me in the following paragraph:

You have a responsibility here, whether you want it or not. Some of the very normal expectations that will be placed on you as a male – to distance yourself from femininity, to be tough and stolid, to laugh at certain jokes, to use words like “slut” without irony, to deride ambitious or non-traditional women, to dominate and emasculate other males – are keeping even the most enlightened parts of this world less hospitable for women than for you. Learn to recognise and violate these expectations. Don’t be another dead billiard ball, passing this nasty energy on to your peers, and eventually your sons. We need new norms, and creating them will take the help of defiant and thoughtful young men. That’s you. The problem of sexism isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a matter of ensuring personal freedom for everyone regardless of sex.

I’ll use this to work into my second point, which is something I’m sure everyone can recognise from their own experience of teenage life, regardless of societies agenda.  Teenagers have a difficult time thinking bigger than themselves.  Asking them to progress the attitude of a generation who are only able to loosely define who they in the pack-mentality of the eat-or-be-eaten high school experience needs a lot of thought.  I don’t mean this in a negative way – what I mean is that fostering a new way of thinking in an ever-changing social landscape (special mention to social media, couldn’t have done it without you) requires attention from us all.  We can talk amongst ourselves about the changes we wish to see in the world, but without talking directly to the people who will be shouldering the weight of this change, and in ways that they can understand the benefit of to themselves and the pack as a whole, we are going to be fighting a very tough battle.

I absolutely believe in what David has put forward here, an open letter to the young generation of men who will need to be a strong catalyst for the change we hope to continue progressing throughout the world.  How we do that – for my part, I will educate my own children and hope that the parents of the people they will grow up with will educate theirs.  As a society… questions like that seem destined for minds greater than mine.  I feel like that is a real let down of an ending, but I guess like the teens I’m discussing here, I’m looking for a whole lot of camaraderie and a little bit of guidance.

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A measure of life.

F1 driver and McLaren team founder Bruce McLaren on the death of teammate Timmy Mayer, 1964:

The news that he had died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us, but who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his few years than many people do in a lifetime? To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.

Some seriously fantatic tits.

My whole life I have loved words. Without them we would be lost inside ourselves. We think in them, we talk in them, we write in them, we ingest them in every which way and they are fantastic enhancers of our lives as humans. I love reading a good book or blog and knowing that only that individual could have strung those words together in that order, and that it is this order that can make me feel a certain way inside my own mind. It keeps us connected to the people we love and connects us with people who may never know us.

So as I go about my day to day life I like to write, about almost anything really. What I’ve found is that I’m pretty good at 3 things. 1 – coming up with an overall concept for a story. 2 – starting a story. 3 – ending a story. What I’m useless at is this – actually putting the 3 of these together. Kind of vital. I only seem to be able to create the beginning of a story, literally a page or 2 at most, and then I’m stumped what to do with it from there. Or, if I have a great overall concept for a story, I automatically start at the end and work my way backwards. Have you ever tried writing backwards? No wonder I’m not getting anywhere.

So what I thought I’d share today (and as you’ll find I tend to start a lot of my sentences with the word ‘so’. Let’s just call this a quirk of my character and not a flaw in my English, I prefer to think of it that way) was what I wrote on the way to work. I enjoy challenging myself in this way, to write of things that would never be within the realms of my own reality. This is the joy I find in writing – living vicariously through the people I find in my own imagination.

I don’t name my work, so for now ‘some seriously fantastic tits’ will do.

If there was one thing Kara Elling had going for her, it’s what my brother so subtly referred to as ‘some seriously fantastic tits’.
You know the kind. The kind that married men take mental pictures of for when their wives turn the lights out at night.
The kind that make little old ladies lift a hand to fan their blushing faces when they bounce by.
The kind that truly seem to be crafted by the hand of the Almighty himself.
Yeah, you know the kind.
And for the last 3 1/2 years those seriously fantastic tits have been all mine. Three Hail Mary’s and an Hallelujah.
So when Kara first brought up the topic of Clint, right before sex with those tits resting casually on my forearm as she traced a forefinger around my self-diagnosed less impressive tits, I couldn’t help but think just how well she knew me. Damn it, of course I was going to listen to her. Well that’s not entirely true – the way her finger was moving around I was mostly likely just going to agree so I could get that pretty little mouth concentrating on other things.

And then I got off the train and needed to concentrate on my feet. Given I write with pen and paper, I’m almost grateful the train was packed and I had to stand with my back against the door to write that. I kind of like where this is going though, at least I feel like I could get another 500 words or so out of it. I’ll see what else I can do with it.