For all that we think we know about manhood as children, let this be the resounding voice that assures young men worldwide that you will not know what it means to be a man until you have to teach another young man. The rite of passage that extinguishes the flames of youth is not at all what you expect, my young friends. Manhood is not a circumstance that you can foresee or create; it stumbles upon you. It’s an environment that you find yourself encased in. It is very much harder than it looks and can often be less pleasant than it should be, if you let it.
After having spent a significant amount of time as a teenage boy, I can say with great certainty that I’m fully aware of how dumb an adolescent male can be. Dumb and ignorant it was to presume to have knowledge that I could not possibly have possessed during those years. I looked at my dad and the other men that I know well and assumed that I was ready for war far sooner than necessary. How dumb and ignorant of me, and I choose to use those words because they come from a place of humility and self-awareness. How dumb and ignorant of you, young man, to squander your youth chasing manhood instead of preparing for it patiently.
I asked my dad, “When did you get to the point in life when you felt like you were The Man?” His answer was a punch to the ribs. I was looking forward to being able to agree with his response. I was feeling like the man at the time, newly married and all. He looked away thinking, then back at me and said, “I don’t know.” So, I wait for the rest because he’s the sort of guy who answers slowly and carefully. Then, he says, “I never had time to stop and think like that. I had two kids and a wife coming out of college.” Hopefully, I can get away with telling this story because I’m in it, but he went on to tell me in a nutshell the obstacles that they faced; how he and my mother overcame them and whatnot. Now, here’s the thing about a good punch to the ribs, the area just beneath your bicep if your arms are hanging by your side. It takes the fight out of you. It humbles you. No matter how many times you get hit later in the fight, that one punch, if it’s halfway decent is gonna be the one that you feel most. I felt it and realized that all of this while, I’d been chasing a moment that may never arrive. I was in the right lane and headed in the right direction. I hadn’t arrived.
Long story short, the best that we can hope to achieve consistently is “right lane and headed in the right direction.” It has become clear to me that I’ve never known anyone to reach an apex and be done. Even after reaching the top of Mount Everest, you must either make your way down and share your experiences or die on the mountain. So, prepare for the whole journey, rejoice in your moments of triumph, and remain humble. It is in humility that we are blessed the most. It is through humility that we gain the most wisdom and achieve the most success. Young man, stay in the right lane and head in the right direction, not matter how hard the road gets.