There are times in this office-bound, suburban, overly-pedestrian life that you wonder where your life force went.
Call it what you want, I'm talking about your mojo, the animal inside, your man power, the human spirit. Every guy has a different way of looking at it, but it's essentially the same thing.
I ran my first marathon on Sunday, and the sense of power and purpose I put into finishing that puppy off roused a little magma within. Every now and then if you step outside of yourself, you'll be slightly ashamed to see something a little softer than you might have hoped. I know I do.
Not everyone can be a mountain man, an astronaut, Ranulph Fiennes, or run an orphanage in Sierra Leone. We mould into the lives we live, and if that means air conditioning and moisturiser, that's what we become. But pushing outside of those comfort zones reminds you that once upon a time men had to fight, hunt, run, protect, plough, provide and build.
A day when men were men.
So I thought I'd give my lily white desk-bound arse a wee pep-talk and dredge up the five most manly moments of my life.
1. Let's start with the marathon. It was up there. The last 15 minutes of that run sent me inside to search for strength I had somewhere, but hadn't tapped for a while. I was no record getter or champion runner, but to make the line took a lot more than I dredge up everyday. It felt good, I felt alive and my legs are almost back to walking unimpeded.
2. Boxing the bully who made my little sister cry when I was eight. I punched him in the nose. It probably wasn't a very good punch, and I was damn nervous at the time, but it was one of the times my protective instinct came to the fore and I chased him off. To be honest my sister was probably about to tear him limb from limb, but I got in first with my finest eight-year-old's right jab. Didn't draw blood but got the bugger on the back foot.
3. Hauling three panicked divers out of an underwater cave in Nelson.
Diving the Riwaka resurgence proved a little much for three intermediate divers I was helping lead through the cave system. Being tail end charlie, when they freaked out I had to step up. One girl was jabbering and weeping in fear, another was silent but had run out of air in her tank and the other was completely buggered from swimming into the current. Getting sharp with Ms Jabberlot to get her to focus and calm down was the first step. With the first two under my arm and on my spare air we swam the pitch black 30m submerged tunnel to the entrance of the cave, only to find the third girl behind me had not made it. I found her stuck halfway back down the tunnel, freaked beyond comprehension and nearly out of air. Suffice to say we got her unstuck and out in short order. They bought me dinner.
4. Running down a Spanish bag thief. After having my backpack stolen from me in a subway station I chased the thief for 15 minutes through Barcelona, eventually catching up with him as he took refuge in a huddle with his fellow artful dodgers. Flying on adrenaline and fury (and the thought of having to replace some of my fave CDs) I forgot to think that I might get knifed, and turned into a human puffer fish, making myself as big, tough and ugly as possible to staunch these Catalan bandits out. It worked, one of them gave up and handed me my bag, and I managed to get around the corner to a cafe before my knees gave out (not so manly).
5. Building my woodshed. It's not much to look at. I'm no Corbusier, but the simple process of designing, measuring, sawing, hoisting, nailing, screwing, and roofing Island Bay's most recent woodshed gave me immense pleasure, particularly because I could wear a tool belt. There is something intensely rewarding about creating a new structure, one that serves a purpose well, and one that needs a magnetic level, a drill and corrugated iron.
There's bound to be a few other testosterone-fuelled moments in my life I've left out, but the main point is that at times, I've been the provider, the protector, the rescuer, and the hunter. That's a reassuring thought as I ponder whether to get a soy flat white or a peppermint tea for morning tea.
What are your most manly moments?
- © Fairfax NZ News
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