Day 6 · Update your resume
Not a bad idea, I suppose, but it’s obviously not limited to men. For the sake of my editor and colleagues, please see that I’m doing this because it’s telling me to, I’m happy in my job!
They have a few helpful tips and formats for presenting your CV, and it’s always good getting rid of the fluff; I’ll have to find another way to remind everyone of that silver medal in the 1997 Lisburn Swimathon.
Day 7 · Reconnect with an old friend
Using the 19th Century bromances of American political leaders like Abraham Lincoln as an analogy, AoM seemed to want us to return to the friendship culture of the 1800s. They argue that guys were closer and more intimate then. The research is valid – the global connections that exist suggest that we’re closer than ever, but in reality, we’re less likely to have close relationships with people whom we can discuss important matters.
I’ve been off social media since Christmas and have honestly enjoyed the time not spent on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But I haven’t made a point of upping my contact with my friends offline. Someone wise once told me that you rarely find time for anything if you don’t make the time.
I love the friends I have, particularly my male friends. I’m fortunate to have a handful of guys who I know will have my back no matter what. And I don’t think it’s selfish to say that I don’t feel like I need to re-connect to old friends when I have a hard enough time trying to keep in contact with the friends I have.
Day 8 · Start a journal
It’s easy to be a cynic. I often catch myself using cynicism as the main lens by which I view things, despite my general optimistic outlook. It’s a horrible ill that I regularly fight against. This ‘30 days to a better man’ challenge is a bit of fun really, but I’ve found myself deriding every suggestion that it puts forth, as if I know better.
When I saw today’s title, I felt the cynicism rise. As I read on though, I felt it melt away. Using the story of his grandfather who created a memoir of his daily journaling for the sake of his children and grandchildren, AoM tell us that “great men keep journals”. While this may be true, correlation doesn’t equate causation; keeping a diary doesn’t make you great. But I love the idea of creating something for the generations that go after you. Part of me wonders if it’s egotistical, but I think it’s bigger than that.
It’s the case with every generation in their youth, but I don’t think our generation has done particularly well at considering those beyond ourselves. It’s a point put across by those advocating for fair treatment of creation; we’ve used way more than our fair share of the earth’s resources and our children and grandchildren will have to deal with consequences of that.
I appreciate the suggestion that it’s not just the major events of society that shape us, but the small, seemingly insignificant moments. More than ever I firmly believe that the destination isn’t as important as the journey. Maybe I’ll give daily journaling a go again. I’ve completed a few before, but not that well.
I’ve missed out on the bulk of 26 years-worth of material. I better get started, then.
Today’s task is to choose a medium and start. Does threads count?
Day 9 · Take a woman on a date
I feel a bit sheepish. In 2009, my youth pastor of the time (Northern Irish) and his wife (American) encouraged me to approach the girl that I liked and ask to take her on a date. Those two met when working in a church in Los Angeles. They ranted to me about the ills of Northern Irish male Christians – feel free to chime in if this isn’t limited to Northern Ireland – not doing the dating thing very well; they sort of just hung around girls they liked and eventually proposed. “Be bold and tell her you like her and that you want to take her for dinner.” So I did. And I got a no, of sorts. “Let’s just hang out.” We went out for dinner and it went well. I was quite good at romance, I think I made Laura feel wanted.
Back to the sheepishness. Laura is now my wife and has been for four years. Naturally, our relationship has grown and evolved for the good. But I have to confess that I’ve let the dating thing slip. Neither of us ever liked the constraint of regular date nights as they felt so forced. But the heart behind them is good and I regret that we haven’t had them.
I’ve re-learned my wife’s love language as being quality time, so I’ve made a bit more effort to create those environments more and more.
At the time of writing, I’ll commit to asking my wife on a date. I’ll cook something good. Now, where’s that Jamie Oliver book?
Day 10 · Memorise If
Initial reaction: No thanks.
Non-initial reaction: Maybe it’s not a bad idea.
The age of connectedness gives us access to almost everything ever. Maybe that’s not as attractive and idea as it seems. Again using former American presidents as the benchmark for manliness, AoM lament the lack of memorisation of information, calling our dependency on the internet a crutch. I think there’s mileage in that argument. The Atlantic asked: “Is Google making us stupid?” And I recently read an article on why one particular lecturer has committed to reading poetry aloud in her lectures. That convinced me of the virtue of memorising poetry. I haven’t done it yet. And I don’t think I’d choose Kipling’s If. But I’ll do it.
Readers, have any of you committed any poems to memory? If so, which ones and why?
Day 11 · Give yourself a testicular exam
There isn’t much philosophical musing to be done here. Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in men between the ages of 20-34; i.e. the threads demographic.
Maybe wait ‘til you get home though, yeah?
Day 12 · Create your bucket list
In an effort to pull yourself out of a rut, AoM suggest creating a bucket list that “can act as a road map to a life of adventure and fulfilment”.
Off the back of telling his disciples to abide in him so that they might produce good and lasting fruit, Jesus said: “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” John 15:11.
Adventure and fulfilment are wrapped up entirely in our abiding in communion with the Father. Bucket lists are good, it’s good to have goals, it’s nice to see the world. So make a bucket list if you like, but don’t confuse those things as that which will satisfy you.
Editor’s note: Thomas wrote this post as part of his ‘30 days to a better man‘ challenge. Click on the link to read why he’s putting himself through this, as well his reflections on week one.