Be Coffee My Friend

The same boiling water than softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances.
It’s very probable that this meme has come across your social media feed. The general idea is that difficult events in your life don’t define you, but rather the notion that you are defined by what you’re made of. And it’s quite inspirational, the notion of “you define you.” Except that’s not what the meme says.

Take a moment and think about it. On one end, the resilient person, one able to stand up to life’s challenges, when faced with pain and adversity, will end up mashable as they lose their strength to face off against any other challenge, as they are no longer as resistant and tough as it previously was. On the other side, the fragile person with the malleable heart and flowing spirit, when confronted by pain and adversity, will become hard boiled, no longer able to show emotions or affection. The shell might look the same, but inside they now carry a stiff spirit and a hardened heart.

In both cases, adversity changed the person into the diametrical opposite of who they were. And when you consider it, that change might not always be into something better.
Not that inspiring now, right?

But what if you had another option, one where you understand that you will face adversity and prepare accordingly. What if you take the seed you were and grind off all the weaknesses, cast yourself against the fires and heat till you burn off the impurities. What if, instead of you being changed into something different by adversity, it’s you who changes adversity into something different? What if you defined yourself, prepared yourself, to turn what many would consider adversity into something that awakens and inspires others.

What if, instead of being an egg or a potato, you became coffee? Instead of being changed by adversity, it’s the coffee seed that turns adversity into something more, something better.  Now, something as simple, yet hostile, as boiling water, is now filled with flavor and aroma.

Be like coffee. When things are at their worse, bring up your game. If anything, adversity will brings out the best in you as you know how to change the situation around yourself. You don’t fear the darkness, as you know that the best coffee is as dark as night and you don’t fear the heat as you know it only serves to unleash your potential. You don’t fear being pressed by life as this is how you work your magic, and you don’t fear life’s greatest trials as you know those are the times when you awaken the souls of those around you.

Be coffee my friend.


The Man Who Doesn't Give Up (Guest Post)

Fellow wordsmith Luke Davis, The Naive Idealist, graced us with yet another wonderful demonstration of what it means to be a Warrior Poet. With that said, I leave you with his latest contribution; The Man Who Doesn’t Give Up.

Have you ever truly met such a man.
A man who doesn't give up.
You can't use a word like stubborn,
He isn't stubborn, he doesn't cling to his ideals
He creates, molds and shapes them until time itself can't break them.

Have you ever truly seen such a man in action.
A man who doesn't give up.
Relentless is not a word you would use.
He isn't relentless, he doesn't have some end point to achieve.
You see life is his journey and he knows it has no end.

Have you ever witnessed such as he.
A man who doesn't give up.
Strength is a concept you can't apply.
He isn't strong, he has been broken many a time before.
But he knows he will be back better than before.

Have you ever heard of such a man.
A man who doesn't give up.
Time has little meaning for such as he.
Time is but a tool in his belt.
A measure of how far he has come and how much yet he can do.

If you were ever to meet such a man.
A man who doesn't give up.
Be warned for he holds creation at his fingertips.
He will wield it over and over again
And the world will forever change before him.
Luke Davis


“Jeet Kune Do”ing the Gentleman’s Tao

Jeet Kun Do, ultimately, is not a matter of petty technique but of highly developed personal spirituality and physique. It is not a question of developing what has already been developed but of recovering what has been left behind. These things have been with us, in us, all the time and have never been lost or distorted except by our misguided manipulation of them. Jeet Kun Do is not a matter of technology but of spiritual insight and training.
Bruce Lee
A few decades ago, a young man came up with a rather interesting concept, somewhat a radical notion within the martial arts traditions.  He began by questioning his own style and started looking into what fighting philosophies were doing. He looked at what each style had in common, what was effective, and what was dead weight carried on simply for traditions sake. From there he filtered out what didn’t work and merged what did into an encompassing philosophy applicable, not only to fighting, but to life in general.

This man’s name was Bruce Lee and his philosophy became known as Jeet Kune Do.

Why do I bring this up in a site dedicated to growing as a man and as a Gentleman? Because it’s way past the time that we should apply this mentality to what it means to be a man and a Gentleman.

What set Bruce Lee apart was the fact that he realized he might not know all the answers, but that the answers were out there waiting for him to uncover them. He got past the egocentric mentality that limits most martial artists as they assume their style is the best, completely developed, and their teachers are infallible. He did the one thing most fighting schools teach their students never to do; to question what you are taught. He promoted the understanding of how rigid styles limit practitioners on two simple facts. The first is there exists a style containing all the answers or can be viewed as the best over the rest. The second is an acceptance that every person is different; what works for one might not work as well for another. This allowed each person to become their own master as they step away from the rigidity of a limited style; where the teacher is simply a guide offering “advice.” The student needs to interpret and internalize knowledge within their own technique and body type.

And isn’t that what the modern idea of Gentleman is? Almost every article on gentlemen starts with the typical reference to chivalry, yet how much of what we have today comes exclusively from the Knightly Orders? How much of it is still a rigid set of rules that has to be followed under penalty of law? The idea of a rigid set of social rules and regulations based on a specific cultural origin is especially questionable when you understand the global and diverse nature of modern society.

I have mentioned several times how each culture around the world and every historical era throughout time have its own version of the Gentleman’s Way. We find surprising similarities between each different versions of gentleman, yet each one has its own uniqueness as well that we can learn from.

We all start off with what was taught to us, usually limited by our immediate environment. It’s defined by our culture, our beliefs, our social standing, our regional location, and our family upbringing. That’s why, even if we all call ourselves gentlemen, we all have our own little rule book. Yet our access to limitless information and knowledge allows us to shatter those limitations. The world’s a big place that’s constantly changing and evolving, so it’s only logical to do the same to avoid being relegated due to natural selection.

We must never fall under the assumption that our “style” is the only right “style.” No single person or philosophy holds a monopoly over what it means to be a Noble Man. We must never fall under the assumption that others have nothing of value to offer us in the way of knowledge. The more we learn and understand, the more we grow as gentlemen. And it’s a gentleman’s priority to never stop growing as a person. So go out, expand your horizons, and Jeet Kune Do the shit out of the gentleman you are!


On Manly things

To me the definition of true masculinity - and femininity, too - is being able to lay in your own skin comfortably.
Vincent D'Onofrio
Yesterday I explained how this is a wonderful time to be a man thanks to the ranting havoc created by two groups; those who view masculinity as a problem to modern society and those who view modern society as a problem to masculinity. My original intent in the post was to offer examples of what I meant, but it was already a pretty long entry already. For that reason I feel that we need to do a part deux, one more focused on the practical exposition of how modern masculinity has evolved within our society and how it has exposed the ridiculous attitude of both groups.

There is this retrograde notion that masculinity will either keep you from doing certain actions or that certain actions will hurt your masculinity. In reality, you can do anything you want and still be true to your masculinity. We don’t tell our daughters that taking on challenges traditionally viewed as “manly” will make them lesbians, why the hell do we assume that having our sons take on the challenges traditionally viewed as “womanly” will make them gay? More interesting still is, why do we assume that “gay” is a bad thing or will hurt their masculinity? But more on that last statement later on.

Good Dads aren't born, they're raised.
We need to start breaking these preconceived mentalities and teach our boys about manliness since their childhood. How do we start? Letting them play with dolls or play house if they want to! “But won’t that will make them grow up funny?” Take a second and consider why girls were given baby dolls or given miniature kitchen sets. Those where teaching tools to prepare them to be mothers and home makers. So the worst thing that might happen if a boy plays with baby dolls is … he will learn to be comfortable with take care of a baby and a home. At what point was being a good father and a self-sufficient home owner unmanly?

And speaking about homes, we need to get rid of the notion that the kitchen is the exclusive domain of women. Cooking is about creating, crafting, and forging a meal out of individual elements. Our kitchen becomes our laboratory as we transform simple seeds, grains, and crystallized chemicals into Cupcakes. Cooking is the perfect example of man’s triumph over nature! And if you ever thing about arguing that point, just think of Gordon Ramsay.

Man being Unmanly?
As we speak about our domination over nature, what about our domination over ourselves. That’s what dance is for! Although women might not believe it, men have been traditionally told to be self-conscious about our own bodies, or at least how they can use them. Dance is about learning control over your own limbs, about finding pleasure with what you were given from birth, about letting go while being in control all at the same time. Furthermore, when we look at partner dancing, it’s about knowing how to lead respectfully and caringly, all while making your partner feel safe. Still not finding the wussification in dancing.

Sure, dominating the body is easy, but what about the soul and being in touch with your emotions? “Won’t art, acting, and writing make you lose your masculinity?” If it does, nobody told Hemingway, Paton, Tupac, or Hugh Jackman. I think I covered this to a greater extend here.

Gareth Thomas
Because nothing says
effeminate gay man like Rugby.
“But what about all those effeminate men doing all those womanly things? That’s proof that these things make guys gay.” Let me start with the simple reality, a man’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with his masculinity. We need to step past the media promoted trope of the “flaming queen” or the idea that any gay man being masculine is trying to “act straight.”  Being gay or bi doesn’t make a man any less of a man. If anything, the fact that these gentlemen have been willing to live life in their own terms shows more balls than most of us straight men have.

I’m not saying that men need to be masculine by the simple definition of being a man. What I’m saying is that men can be masculine by choice, and nobody has the right to tell them otherwise. Only when you learn to be comfortable with yourself and your masculinity can you be proud of being a man.