Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Walk with Scars

Much of men's lives have been spent living under the assumption that we should fear our own weakness;  that we should avoid and escape even the suggestion of our own insufficiency - knowledge, function, intellect..  whatever it is, we treat weakness with contempt.  By escaping weakness, we have imagined this insane thought that we will somehow literally be stronger...  after all, strength by definition is the absence of weakness.  In our minds, we moved our self to be in conflict with weakness, as if we were in opposition with each other.   And we have practiced this mantra over and over -  defying, denying ourselves the experience of absolute vulnerability.
   Somewhere in our past we built an agreement with weakness that said:  "Weakness is a negative thing.  I will not allow myself to be weak; I will avoid appearing weak, I will not tolerate it within myself."     This agreement is one that I think many men build within themselves..  we want to be strong, we want to be so hard and fierce that we cannot be harmed physically or emotionally.  Yet as we build this intolerance towards weakness within ourselves, we are in reality denying ourselves an essential element of our masculinity - the unadulterated flow of freedom and the undiminished ferocity of true fearlessness.   It is not weakness that is actually our problem.. it is a chronic fear and overt avoidance of facing up to our soft spots.

I have scars on my forearms and on my right hip from crashing on my motorcycle.  Though the pain from those wrecks is long gone, each time I notice those wounds I am reminded of two things:  I am weak (as a human, as a man, as a supernatural being),  and I am absolutely more powerful because of my weakness.   My scars expose the vulnerability of my body, they show me that I am mortal.. that my body was not made to live forever and that I should respect it.   My scars expose the vulnerability of my mind, that I am reckless that I am brash and impulsive - they remind me to use my intuition my intellect, my sharpness.  These scars expose my weaknesses..  weaknesses that are elements of my nature.. yet do not define me as a man.   As I become aware of them I may choose to change -  this change is what makes me a stronger man.  Weakness is the "truth" of self..  it is the truth about us..   it is the blueprint to our faults and to areas in our life where we need more practice and less fear.

There is a quote that says, "What doesn't kill  you, makes you stronger."   Essentially that is a very abridged version of:  "What weaknesses we discover in ourselves and yet overcome with great will, makes us stronger."    I believe many of us have misinterpreted the message of that quote.  We try to avoid weakness and jump straight to the "stronger" part!   Yet by doing so we never actually learn how to be strong.

Freedom is what every single man fights for at the root of his being.   Weakness is an intimate part of that freedom.  
 To be free men, we must be comfortable with our weakness..  not the toleration of weakness, but the unapologetic acknowledgement of our inadequacies.  To be strong men, we must stare unblinkingly into the heart of our weaknesses and choose to be rise above them.        
Weakness is the root of understanding and owning strength -  No man becomes strong without first walking through his weakness.  

Andrew Tipton