by Judd Watkins

That’s right, we’re soft. You and me. Us. Men.

I think it’s great that men have gotten better at being in touch with their intellect more than their base nature. We’ve added nuance and depth to our emotions. We’ve embraced art and passion over stoicism. I don’t think any of those things are soft. Macho is for morons. What we’ve done is developed a softness of will.

Softness in men is typically discussed as it relates to our emotional (overly feminine) or physical (generally weak) aspects. Sometimes it’s just our general lack of traditionally male skills that is called out as soft. Many of the points made about those things are valid and worth considering. If you can’t have a tough conversation because you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or more likely getting your own hurt, you need to harden up. If you can’t do a push-up or walk a flight of steps, you’ve got some work to do. And guys, I’m a huge fan of writing the check and having someone else change my oil but as men, we have got to know some basics. Changing oil, or a tire. Jumping a battery. Patching a hole in the wall or fixing a dripping sink. The internet exists. It will teach you those things. There’s a YouTube video for all of that. What the internet won’t teach, or apparently even discuss, is that we men have lost our will. Our strength of character. Our resolve. Our tenacity.

In the not too distant past, Ohio and Kentucky were the Frontier. As in, the end of civilization. The unknown. The actual wilderness. (Emphasis on wild.) We’ve all heard of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. I’m reading a fascinating book on one of their contemporaries, Simon Kenton. This guy had all the classic attributes of male “toughness”. He was big, strong, and quiet. I think the key to his amazing abilities in the Frontier had more to do with his strength of will. This guy lived and thrived in hostile territory where being killed by animals, Mother Nature and Indians was a fact of daily life by exerting his will on the world. He would go hunting in the winter to supply food for hundreds of other folks at tiny outposts who would otherwise starve. He would take off at dusk, creeping into a forest teeming with hostile Indians, so that he could find a hunting spot in the cover of darkness. He’d stop and dig a small hole, build a smaller fire in it and cover the fire up with leaves and debris. Leaving only two small holes to allow it to breathe. Then he would drape a wool blanket over his back, sit down cross legged over the fire and sleep until dawn, when he could hunt by daylight. He would often wake up with inches of snow on his back! (Are you freaking kidding me?) Here’s the kicker, once he actually shot some game for meat, usually deer, he’d tie the hooves together and drape them over his neck and drag it back miles through the woods, past those Indians, to the outpost so it could be butchered for food. I get pissed when the movie I’m streaming buffers too long. I know guys who get butt hurt by reading the phrase butt hurt! What have we become?

It would be easy to write Simon Kenton off as a freak or an anomaly but he’s just one example. Even the regular everyday folks back then were badasses. Your great great grandma and grandpa were tougher than anyone you know. They brought their whole families, even their little kids, down the Ohio River on wooden rafts to start a new life in the wilderness. They aren’t the freaks. We are. We weren’t designed to sit in chairs staring at screens all day. Our thumbs aren’t there so we can smash the like button or re-post some ridiculous political crap online. They’re there to allow us to make and use tools. So that we can produce things. Not just consume things. Did you know that the CDC says we sit too much? We’re the apex predator of apex predators! We’re the dominant species on earth and we’re sitting on our asses so much that it is literally killing us. Strength of will might look like you going to that job you hate everyday and doing your best until you find a better one. Or admitting that your son is a turd, and helping him not be. It could be finding the discipline to hit the gym consistently or even just to sit quietly with God for 10 lousy minutes a day. Maybe it’s you telling your frat bros or golfing buddies that you’re all done chugging brewskis and treating women like cattle. But it could mean checking into rehab. Cutting up your credit cards. Or telling your wife about that affair.

The world wants you soft. God wants more for us than that. And we know it. We know it deep in our core. Look at the proliferation of Tough Mudders, Spartan Races and CrossFit Gyms. We’re searching for something in a world that doesn’t want us to have it. Hell, gyms in general are a fairly new thing. Simon Kenton didn’t work out! He didn’t do freaking burpees. He lived a hard life. We have to work harder than he did to grab a piece of the greatness that comes from building strength of will. We have to seek out opportunities to do it. MAN CAMP could be a great chance for you to do that. How about for one weekend you choose the hard thing?

See you out there,
Judd Watkins
Adventurer | Creator | Son

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