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Wednesday
Aug152012

Rooms 37-38: Put a Little Testosterone In Your Life

Rooms 37-38: Put a Little Testosterone In Your Life
Manly Stuff for Men and Women 

I was at Starbucks the other day, eavesdropping on a conversation between a group of guys. They were talking about cutting up a 24x24 cement board, then plastering it to the lower third of the shower wall they were installing. At least I think they were. It was all stud finders and claw hammers to me. You might as well have dropped me in the country of Bhutan for all I understood. I was lost and alone in a foreign land: the land of manly things. 

As my family likes to remind me, I am pretty much a disgrace to my gender. I shriek at dead animals, can’t change a tire, and always let my wife investigate the late night noise in the other room, which I don’t think is that unreasonable considering she’s the one who keeps the lead pipe by her bed. 

As for my tool chest: I have a few paper clips, one screw driver and a ruler that has my name on it. Let’s just say no one comes to my house to borrow anything, unless it’s flour or a USB cord. The sad fact is, I have never embraced the “man room,” and I’ve been made fun of it for most of my life. 

Whether this makes me less of a person is up for debate. In either case, staying in the same room, no matter what it is, is not in alignment with the mission of The Other 999 Rooms. So, while I may never lust over a Makita Saw the way my brother does, I can certainly do my best to experience the “man room.” 

As my kids have told me, “it’s a room that is long overdue.”

And for you men who already know how to caulk the bathroom shower, clean a fish, or roll up a garden hose properly, you can always find new rooms of manhood to experience. 

As for all the women out there, you’re not off the hook. In fact, this is as much a room for you as it is for me…maybe more.

First of all, we have to recognize that while we may come into this world as a man or woman, we all have the other gender inside us. (Yes, I’m talking to you with the rifle in your hand and the deer on the top of your car). 

It’s the balance of life that we are both masculine and feminine, yin and yang, left brain and right brain, and while we may be dominant in one, we can’t have one without the other, or to do so is to live out of balance, isolated in one room. It is experiencing both sides of our nature—male and female—that give us equilibrium, depth, and character. It’s what makes us interesting and whole.

Of course, this week isn’t just about embracing our male self—it’s also about refusing to be trapped into living a certain way because of our gender. It’s about shattering stereotypes and crossing boundaries, moving between rooms with ease and grace, like the girl who can play with dolls one minute and trucks the next, or the boy who can play soccer and take cooking lessons in the same afternoon. That’s what we’re after. 

We cultivate this art by embracing both the male and female sides of ourselves. This week it’s testosterone, down the road, we’ll do estrogen. 

Rooms 37-38: Put a Little Testosterone In Your Life

So what does it mean to put testosterone into our lives? Well, seeing as I’ve never really “Man’d Up,” I did what any self-respecting male would do, I bought a few “stuff every man should know” kind of books. 

For better or worse, here are a few of the “manly things” they say we should know how to do: split firewood, sew a button, change motor oil, stop a running toilet, play rugby, carve a turkey, perform the Heimlich, milk a cow, filet a fish, chop down a tree, throw a punch, take a punch, jump start a car, shotgun a beer, skin a moose, start a campfire, tie a knot, and, my personal favorite, “drive an eight penny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it.” They also suggested watching The Godfather, reading The Sun Also Rises, listening to John Coltrane, or learning how to pick a good cigar, make the perfect martini or drink Mescal in Mexico. 

All I can say is: thank God I’ve seen The Godfather 20 times. 

Of course, we don’t have to do any of these if we don’t want to. Personally, I’m not touching a moose and I’m way too fragile to take a punch. Anyway, the point is not to take it literally, but to use this as an idea generator—something to get us started on our journey into the “male room.”

I will also suggest that for the purpose of social experimenting, let’s not be be afraid to embrace the stereotype. Get out of your comfort zone, have fun, and be creative. In other words, go really male.  

Again, if you’re already a strong man, go deeper.  And if you’re a woman, or a little less manly like myself, just dive in with every stereotypical thing you can think of. 

And, yes, I realize most women aren’t going to start smoking cigars or go riding around in monster trucks. That’s fine. Just do things you think are manly. This could be something men do, or simply their attitude. It’s up to you. Don’t judge it. Embrace it. Remember, it’s not what we do, but the attitude we do it with that allows us to walk into new rooms.   

As for me, here’s what I’ve been doing…just a few things that struck my fancy. 

1. Immediately stopped using the word “fancy” in all my sentences. 

2. Sat behind the wheel of a Corvette Z06, which can go from 0-65mph in less than 3.7 seconds. Unfortunately, I can’t drive a stick shift, so I had to sit in the driveway. Sill, imagination is a manly thing. 

3. Stopped shaving, bought Men’s World, went miniature golfing, drank a shot of 20 year old whiskey, then spent as much time with manly friends as possible.

4. Fired up a chainsaw. Split lots of stuff in half.   

5. Went on a 16 mile hike, got blisters, refused Bactine.

6. Took a ride in my friends small single engine plane. No whimpering. No shutting eyes. No begging to land. Doesn’t get braver than that. 

7. Test drove a pimped out Ford F-560, arguably one of the manliest trucks you’ll ever want to sit in. You need a ladder to get inside. I went straight to the mall and took up three parking spots. Didn’t give a damn either. 

8. Smoked six puffs of a cigar, while reading the Sun Also Rises. Papa would have been proud, though not so much if he saw me spending the next four hours brushing my teeth. 

9. And, yes, I did drive that eight penny nail into a treated two-by-four. Of course, I had to think about it. I also had to go to Home Depot to do it, which is a whole other story. 

And, this is just the beginning. I haven’t even started to warm up my man jets. But, I’m ready and, to my great surprise, liking it as well. I like it a lot. It’s a great room.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still don’t like to get my hands dirty, anymore than I like tinkering or fixing stuff. I could care less about cars, tools and garages. And I know all too well that I will never be the guy you ask to pick up the dead squirrel or fix the chain on a kid’s broken bicycle. 

But, here’s the truth. I get it now. Hanging out with real men has been eye-opening. While, I started out chasing a stereotype, I quickly realized that I had made the mistake of defining a man by his interests, instead of what those interests represent. 

You see, being man (having male energy) is not about fast cars and power tools. It’s not about cleaning out gutters, knowing how to chop down a tree or change a tire. It’s about our willingness to take on challenges and find ways to make things happen. It’s about building, refining, perfecting. It’s about being resourceful and helpful. It’s about having strength, confidence and a can-do attitude. It’s about living life, sharing passions, and celebrating fully. 

It’s about doing. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that’s the kind of testosterone we can all use in our lives. I’m still not there yet, but I’d like to think that one day, I just might be. 

In the meantime, would somebody give me a hug? 

 

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