The Most Poisonous Story Men Tell Themselves

When I was a boy, I stumbled upon the body of a rabbit in the woods behind our farm.

Though dead, it looked peaceful, like it was only sleeping: its fur unblemished, eye glassy yet intact.

But when I flipped it over with a stick, as boys will invariably do, its underside was seething with maggots, wriggling and chewing in a mad pulse of decomposition.

I leapt back in repugnance, shocked at how infested the flesh was beneath the serene exterior.

On the surface, your life looks a series of events and milestones:

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The Magic Of Unconditional Commitment

You thought you’d never have to hold this club over her.

Just as she thought she’d never had to hold hers over you.

For when you were first married, your love and service came easy, like champagne overflowing the bottle at the slightest shake.

But then came the grind: then came the failed startup, the chronic illness, the long years of raising children together.

In time, the love and service did not come so easily. To your dismay, and to hers, you stopped “meeting each other’s needs.”

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What Happens When Dads Sacrifice Their Dreams For Their Children

It’s 2033.

Your firstborn is visiting, and as you sit full-bellied at the dinner table, you begin to reminisce.

You recount with laughter that campout when the tent leaked, that Florida trip when the minivan broke down, that old lawnmower you had to yank on a hundred times before it would finally start in a cloud of blue smoke.

And then comes a moment of silence as you’re both reminded of the underlying cause, of the story beneath these stories: that money was always tight. That the only camping gear you could afford was that shitty $49 department store tent. That all you could afford to drive was that fifteen-year-old minivan that always smelled like gym socks.

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Why You Must Be The Man Who Chooses Blood

You think you want “the good life.”

…That if only you could escape all these mind-numbing problems assaulting you, THEN you’d have it made. THEN you could get on with your real life… the life of leisure and travel and “freedom” you’ve longed for.

But deep down you know: the “good life” is hell.

For as men, we are made for blood.

No matter how much we shirk or refuse, no matter how it troubles or terrifies us, we are drawn to the stench of the battlefield.

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1 Thing To Never Say To Your Kids

Your preschooler proudly shows you his latest crayon drawing.

Your daughter eagerly asks you to rate her volleyball serve on a scale of 1 to 10.

Your son calls you to the computer to show you his latest stop-animation short film.

Every time your child presents their work for feedback, you face an essential crossroad: you must choose whether to praise the ABILITY or the EFFORT that produced the work.

It’s easy to praise ability. There’s something about it that feels fittingly grand, aspirational.

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Guard Your Fire

As we drove through the green hills of Kenya’s Rift Valley, a taxi minivan or “matatu” roared around us and into the oncoming traffic lane.

Directly ahead was a blind curve: if that curve proved to hold an oncoming vehicle, the driver of that matatu and all the dozen or more passengers he carried would surely die, either by collision or by plunging thousands of feet to the valley floor below.

It was an appalling choice the driver had made, putting his own life and the lives of his passengers at needless risk just to shave a few seconds off his trip time.

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Man’s 3 Energies

Long ago, when we slept in holes and peered egg-eyed into the night at every howl and crack, man had two primal energies: build, and burn.

For when it came to carving spears, hoisting logs, and fortifying the cave against wind, beasts, and marauders, man’s size and strength and piss and vinegar made him well suited to these tasks.

And when it came to killing the mammoth for meat, pulping the skull of the enemy, and casting the thieving member of the tribe into exile, man was well-suited to these purging acts as well.

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Wild Your Life

You came into the world covered in blood, shit, and mucus.

For one glorious moment, you were elemental and wild.

Then the nurse hosed you down and diapered your ass in plastic, ushering you with all haste into the world of man-made conventions.

And you’ve been in that world ever since, living the tidy, right-angled life they’ve given you.

But you can’t help but feel that something essential has been washed away.

You are estranged from the wild. Estranged from the world of meat and mud and swamp and smoke we all come from.

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How The Hammer Fails You

When I was 17, I destroyed a barn.

My father had deemed one of our farm’s crumbling outbuildings beyond repair, and set me and my brother loose.

We came to it gleeful and howling, armed with hammer and sledge, eager to smash it to pieces in a bacchanal of destruction.

Minutes later, chests heaving, faces glistening with sweat, we stared in dismay at the un-budged structure: all we had to show for our wild smashing was a few dented boards.

Decrepit as it was, that small barn did not come apart so easily, did not comply with our brute, exuberant force.

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1 “Realistic” Belief That Keeps Creative Men In Chains

Every day you are beaten:

Beaten by the leaky sink you keep avoiding.

Beaten by the applesauce on the wall you keep not scrubbing off.

Beaten by the dent in the drywall you keep putting off fixing.

You long to conquer mountains, yet every day you are beaten by molehills.

All these little problems… they should be so easily solved. Yet they go on defeating you, day after day, until at last you conclude that you are not a capable man:

If you are this easily defeated, “surely” you do not have what it takes to win the bigger fights: to become your fittest self, to create a business empire, to create works of art that will outlast you.

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