Say what you need to say.—John Mayer
Each of us, I believe, has a story to tell, some wisdom to pass on to our loved ones that comes from what we learn as a result of our life experiences. Some call it, “giving voice” to our lives. Others call it “finding our voice.” Whatever we might call it, sharing our stories is how we teach ourselves and each other how to live lives that have purpose, lives that matter—lives that having meaning for us and for others.
My first published book, Pillars of Steel—How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other, came off the Principia press in May 2012. “Like birthing our fifth child,” is the best way my wife and I could describe the experience as we watched the books come off the press. Something inside of me wanted to laugh and cry and jump for joy and get down on my knees all at the same time. It still brings tears to my eyes every time I remind myself that, “I wrote a book.”
I’m not sure what it is that makes me well up with tears when I think about it. Perhaps it’s remembering the long hard days of getting up two hours early each morning before going to work as a lawyer, showing up at the computer screen trying to put down on the page with clarity the fruit of five years of research on the history of masculinity in a way that would make sense and resonate with other people. Maybe it’s a sense of gratitude to my wife, to God and to myself for having had the discipline to keep with the project even when the doubt inside of me screamed, “Why are you doing this? What does it matter?”
I think the biggest part of those tears comes from the deep conviction that there is something inside of me, some words, some vision, some life experiences that were bubbling up and demanding I give voice to them, and I did. I did say what I needed to say.
I’m not sure if Pillars of Steel will change the world, or even change one person’s life who reads it. I hope it does. But that’s not up to me, that’s up to some higher power that lives and breathes within each one of us.
My job was to give voice to the story of how I have come to know through my own experience and through my research that men are in a transition point in modern history. Like women in the 1960’s came to understand and reject the cultural definitions that limited them, men today are bound and chained by old stereotypes and social expectations that define us, limit us, and stop us from sharing our stories with each other.
My own story of coming face-to-face with these cultural limitations that bound and gagged me from sharing my heart with my best friends and buddies demanded I write about that experience, give voice to my anger and to my hope that if we as men could follow the path women blazed for us as they changed and transformed their lives, maybe the world we live in as men could change too, maybe we could make the world a little better for our sons and the next generation of men who will walk the path we blazed for them. And so I gave voice to that story writing:
“We are designed for more as men than the false gods and bits of table scraps society has allowed us to worship and eat. It is time we take the male journey together. It is time to dig deep into our masculine strength, get angry, and demand we be given what our souls have been promised.
“We are the rich young men and I believe that individually, and as a community, our hearts are already leading us—and that someday, in God’s perfecting timing, with God’s abundant grace, our feet will catch up with our masculine souls.” Pillars of Steel, p. 78.
I hope that Pillars of Steel will ignite a deeper conversation among men and women about what it means to be a genuine man in today’s world. I hope the video trailer, The First Conversation: Pillars of Steel—Having the Courage to Break the Man Code, (http://bit.ly/L5HEEA) will spark others to question the rules that society imposes upon us as men and demand they be changed. I hope that the workshops on Having the Balls to Break the Man Code will be transformative for men and for women as we wrestle out loud with the questions about what it means to live and experience authentic manhood.
Just as importantly, I hope Pillars of Steel will encourage others to, “Say what they need to say,” because our stories, our lives, our tales about who we are, what we have done, and what we have learned, are the gifts we are given to hold, treasure, and share. Say what you need to say.