Before we get into this, I think something fundamental must be understood. When we talk about purpose it’s easy to assume that finding your purpose as a man has always been a part of life, that purpose itself is a given.
But this isn’t the case. Not the way I see it.
Purpose is a relatively new phenomenon in our human history. It’s only about 10,000 years old. This marked the dawn of totalitarian agriculture and what would soon become the dominant way of life for the human species.
Before this, for literally millions of years, I don’t believe that purpose was a thought in the minds of men. Of course each member of a tribe had special gifts, special inclinations, which were often noticed by elders at an early age. After picking up on these special interests or leanings, an elder might encourage a child to explore that interest, or pair them with a mentor that could help guide them. I imagine that this was a very organic, natural process.
But to say that were was a “purpose for your life” would be seen as silly. You had a role in the tribe that naturally emerged by result of your gender, or special talents. Your purpose was your role in the tribe.
This video explains why you’re struggling to find your purpose, and how to start uncovering it:
It’s my view that purpose is something that needs to be sought out or uncovered for men, because of the lack of ingrained purpose that naturally flows out of living in a community.
For most men, their purpose is to provide. Protection used to be a part of that, and to some degree still is, but it’s now outsourced to military and police, men hired to do violence on our own behalf.
These days many men aren’t even required to provide. We have the freedom to be the primary caregiver of children, or to be equal providers in a relationship.
Even providing is not nearly what it used to be. For millions of years providing actually meant using our bodies to hunt, kill, and bring back food for our families. Farmers do this work for us now, and we trade the money we earn through our jobs at the supermarket for our food. This is the way we provide.
Hunting in modern times, if you want to even call it that for men, is “making a killing” by getting the sale, the job, the promotion.
As I said earlier though, it’s not even necessary for us as men to do the breadwinning anymore.
And in some ways it’s great that we have these choices now. It’s wonderful that women can be free to work and pursue cultivation of their providing and warrior natures if they so choose. It’s also a great thing that man can choose to be caregivers and relationship builders, roles traditionally played by women.
However, if you’re like most men, despite 10,000 years of domestication, a relative drop in the bucket of our 200,000 years as homo sapiens sapiens, there is still a biological impulse, a deep yearning in our DNA to become who we were born to be. To hunt, to fight, to protect and provide.
As men we have a natural desire to become physically strong, to train ourselves to be mentally focused, and emotionally resilient, traits that would have served us well in our quest to become the best hunters and protectors we could be.
In the wild if you are not present, grounded and unwavering in your focus, it could mean the difference between life and death, not only for you, but your fellow brothers as well.
A world without opportunities for men to become men, means artificial and shallow re-creation
Without these opportunities in modern life, we are left to attempt to recreate these opportunities in modern life. Some men attempt to do it through fantasy, in a passive way through first person shooter or roleplaying video games. Others try to express their warrior prowess through sports. Some men pursue “making a killing” by defeating their competition in business.
The drive is still there, it simply becomes filtered through the realities of modern life, forcing many men to settle for a paltry substitute of what their bodies really yearn to experience: risk, danger, freedom. Not for simple amusement, but because we must, to provide and protect those we love. That is purpose.
I believe that men seeking to reclaim their wildness would be well served to find outlets and opportunities for hunting and fighting that are as close as possible to their original forms. Though I have no interest in joining a military, fighting for causes I might not necessarily agree with, I do have an interest in honing my skills as a martial artist, even if those might not be the most practical in our world of machine guns and drones. The invention of these technologies has not altered what is impressed in our DNA, the need to fight and test our bodies against other men to see what we’re made of.
Similarly, while is may not become your way of life or the standard from which you procure food, I also believe that men seeking to uncage would benefit from experience killing for the sake of providing in their lives, whether that be through fishing or hunting wild game.
Even if these aren’t our daily realities, I do believe that these are necessary, and vital to experience, even if done through ritual, for the full realization of what it means to be a primal man.
It’s a strange world that we live in to practice striking, climbing, rolling and falling when we may never need to use them for real.
Even still, it’s much better than video games and passive spectatorship. At least for me.
Going beyond sacrificing for the sake of providing
For the vast majority of us, fighting and hunting will never be our full time occupations. So the question remains, how do we fulfill this deep drive to serve and give to the world and those we love?
Is it enough to simply earn a paycheck and pay the bills?
Some men will say that it is. I think they’re lying to themselves.
I believe we can do much better than living a life of quiet desperation at a job we hate, sacrificing for our families in the name of providing. The uncaged man knows this.
To truly realize your potential, you must uncover a purpose that you feel in your gut, your heart and your balls. Something that burns within you and fills you with terror. Dominating in the mental realm, disconnected from our purpose for the sake of winning isn’t enough.
Fear is your guide, your friend, your ally, if you master him
A real man makes it his life mission to live a purpose where fear is his compass, constantly guiding him to know whether or not he is on the right path.
No fear in your heart, no wrenching in your gut? This is a tell-tale sign you are shrinking and collapsing below what you are really capable of.
Heart pounding, palms sweating, feeling like you’re going to die? You are on the right track.
It’s not enough for us as men to merely go through the motions, earning a paycheck to provide. If we are to actualize our true potential as men, we must work to clearly see our gifts, then seek to find where these gifts align with a deep need in the world.
This is not easy work. It can require years of flailing, desperate seeking and deliberately resting in the agonizing discomfort of uncertainty. Because not knowing is a man’s greatest fear, this is a very vulnerable place to occupy. You might rather revert to a safe, comfortable, known path, even if it’s not your true calling. The known, and knowing where you’re going, even if it’s not your heart’s calling, will always feel better, at least in the moment, than the terrifying void of the unknown.
Stepping into the uncertainty, letting go of that desperate grasping is the leap that leads you into being open to uncovering your purpose.
The sooner you take that leap, the better.
When you embrace not knowing, now your mission is to make as much space as possible for solitude, reflection, and listening to where life is trying to guide you.
You may need to isolate yourself in a cabin for a week, spend an hour in silence every morning for months, or wander through the city at night in order to hear what life is trying to tell you.
The more you disconnect from the noise, and all the inputs, demanding your attention, trying to lead you into side routes that are deadends, the better.
When you uncover your true purpose, you will discover that it has no destination, no limit. It is a no end path.
A true purpose is something so large, so deep that you will likely not not completing it. No matter. The joy and fulfillment is in the path, not in the arrival.
Do not wait until the path is clear
As you are getting clearer, and life is returning to your body, pulling you to act, do not wait. Do not wait for more clarity, for more vision. The vision will most likely be very muddied, blurry at first. Move forward. Realize that paths are made by walking and that clarity comes through moving.
Ask men that you trust, strong men, awake men that are living their purpose for feedback. Does this seem like my direction? When I share this does it feel true? Do you sense any hiding or shrinking? How can I show up stronger as a man?
You should only solicit feedback from men that have a sense of you, and that are living their purpose. Men that are hiding and shrinking cannot show up fully for you.
This is one of the most dangerous and courageous acts a man can make. But it’s vitally important.
Tribes were bonded by men, hunting together, fighting together, having each others backs. Giving and receiving feedback was critical to us growing stronger, pushing each other, sharpening each other. Iron sharpens iron as they say.
Without it, we can delude ourselves, stay smaller than we know we’re really capable of.
With it, we can become stronger than we ever could be apart.
Brotherhood is vital. And unfortunately, it’s a nutrient missing from most men’s lives. You can be starving of it and not even realize your pain is because of it.
We are growing and strengthening our tribe every day. I encourage you to use it to connect with other men.
The only way to go to sleep at peace
Finding your path and the tribe you want to serve is not for timid men, it’s for those willing to put themselves through the gauntlet to find what they are really made of, and risk dying without their gifts every being fully received.
It’s for men that are willing to wake up not knowing what the next step is, willing to abandon all of their plans to be guided by some ineffable spirit, letting go of their ego, terrified of trusting in something bigger than them, wondering what it will all amount to or if they will be taken care of in the process.
No, this is not a path for the feint of heart.
But it’s the only way to go to sleep at night in peace.
Finding and living a purpose in this way may be an unnatural, awkward act in modern life, yes. Own that, accept that. Give yourself compassion that, knowing that it would be much simpler (thought perhaps not easier), if your purpose was built-in to your life in a tribe.
Once you do that, get over it. Accept that it’s harder than it might have been, that it would have been easier if you had a rite of passage as a man, or a father that was present, or any number of things that would have been very useful if you lived in our original human context. Then move on.
You have too much work to do to lament about what could have been. You were born for something great, and torturing yourself with unrequited experiences will not serve you now.
Your work now is to uncover your gifts, and align them with a deep need in the world. The deeper the pain, and the wound, the greater your ability to serve.
Know that your purpose can take many different forms. There may not be one right path, and often agonizing to try to find it is just another trap to keep you from giving your gifts.
Your purpose isn’t so much something you find, it’s something you create.
Undoing the pain of domestication
In truth, most of these pains you might alleviate are the product of civilization itself. After all, I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for domestication. There would be very little need for me to share my thoughts and musings on how to reclaim your wildness as a man in a modern world. Personal trainers wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for domestication, neither would sex educators, lawyers, teachers or police officers.
In some ways there’s a beautiful irony to it.
Domestication has opened the greatest need for men to step into their purpose, and our work can be rebuilding tribes to undo the damage that it has caused.
That is a calling worth answering, in my book.
If you want to live your purpose as a man, if this is truly important to you and you’re willing to step into the pain of the void of not knowing then ask yourself:
What are my gifts? What deep need can I serve in the world?
If you are committed, if you are willing to die trying to fulfill your purpose, then you are ready.
Keep asking. Keep listening.
The world needs you.
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