My friend was talking to me recently about how it all feels completely surreal and somewhat out of place that he is now a father. I did the usual thing you would do for your BP friends and suggested he was just a new dad and this was likely normal. There was something in his eyes though at the back that were restless and possibly bordering scared. Was he scared that he was a dad and 'happily married'? No, he is content with the girl for all that matters and loves his Son. What else then was driving these little moments in our conversation where for all his "happiness" his face was clouded in self doubt and questioning...
I don't know man it's just... I did university and got a job and now... This is it? Right? It just happened very quickly...
At age 30 scrolling through facebook I see father after father sat on their sofas playing Call of Duty or some other videogame with their 4 year old Son with all the typical comment trains running underneath...
Where was their rite of passage? What trial or ordeal did they have to endure to begin to raise a family? Nothing. Nothing at all.
What are they going to tell their grandchildren when they are old?
I used to be good at cod and drinking beer.
There is a oft quoted passage in Fight Club - you've all heard it.
“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
It's true, there is no purpose for men in these days except the ones we make for ourselves and between the television telling us what to think and chasing women we have no space or time to address this most important of issues - generationally we're not very pissed off about having no cause, we're wholly apathetic instead.
Since swallowing the pill you've started to lift weights, dress better and approach women, you're concentrating on your career and have learned how to say no. The truth is:
You should have always been in shape
You should always have been well dressed and care about your appearance
You should have always been able to speak to the blonde in the coffee shop
Our generation feel they should be rewarded for just for tidying their room or leaving the house, turning off the video games or going for a walk... Achievement unlocked - go back to sleep.
The discordance I saw inside my friend was "Eating the bread of shame", he was just a taller, fatter version of himself at 9 years old with all the supposed luxury and privilege of a settled life. He had no rites of passage, no trial by ordeal, no cause greater than himself and professionally sat at a place earning a pension that looks increasingly like it won't matter by the time he comes to claim it.
We were warriors by birth, years of brutal exertion, bravery and commitment was the price of feeling entitled to old age in front of the fire and getting fat. Now we are a generation of spiritually and physically fat and old men at age 20 wondering what this nagging feeling at the back of our collective heads is.
You haven't done anything. We haven't done anything. Short of military service or a committed effort to travelling what could you tell your grandchildren that they'd care for? What have you done to deserve being a family elder, someone to listen to, what have you seen or done that was in anyway remarkable?
I ask myself this as much as the community here and find myself lacking. I've never walked a great Dune in the Sahara, climbed a glacial ice wall, been in a bar fight in Dublin or done a line of cocaine off a Tokyo model, chased by a bear or been genuinely fearful for my life.
What will I tell my grandchildren? I lifted weights day to day and earned money, I partied and fucked girls? I was a wealthy ladies man? Is that it? By my own standards I don't deserve to raise children and settle down if that's my story to date.
What will you tell your grandchildren - what will you have done?