If there is any want, any craving in me, it is to have an uneventful day, over and over. If there is anything the world is hell-bent on stealing from me, it is the opportunity to do so. And because of this, some part of me is furious at the world, and no matter what happens, it always will be. That is what it is to be a man, even today, yes, even today, as I sit and write these words. It is to be needed, and it is to be needed to grow up a little bit earlier.
I wish they had let us stay children for a little longer. All men I know could have used another year, and if that was too much, another month, and if that was too big an ask still, then a day. A day would have sufficed, too. And this is what all men ever want: a day without being needed or required to do things. And silently at that: there is little vocabulary for the troubles of a man, and if there were enough words, most would not know where to begin. But all men I know have grown up too quickly. I see this in the stories of my father. I watch this in my brother and my friends. I find this in the stranger at the bar at the airport who is from a world apart and tells me the same story I have heard over and over.
But we may not ask, we may not ask another question lest we be showered with opinion and so much more, yet not be granted what we silently beg for, never receive the thing we truly long for: a day without being needed, without being directed, a day without our marching orders, a day in the sun with no one calling out for us. To be a man is to nod in agreement at the world and say, “I will get it done.” Even today, yes, even today. To be a man is to look at your father getting old and, for all the talk all around you, know that you’re living the same life he had, only in a different flavour.
It is to lend a hand to it all, day by day, yet, be remembered for what you could not do. All boys I have ever known have grown up too quickly. Callouses on their hands and ache in every corner of their body, most men I know still ask, “how can I help you?”