Why can’t a man be a man?

Categories Opinion

I am not using the “a” as an article here. It is used as a numeric, so it will mean something like “why can’t one man be one man?” That doesn’t make much sense…does it?

Let me try and explain. Very few of us men – and women, I am going to use “men” to imply both women and men as a matter of habit than the generic “human”, “mankind” which are very politically septic but emotionally neuter  – are born with a single voice in our heads. Hitler’s brain was tagged with “those dirty men need to die” when he was born while Columbus’s bore a “what’s on the other side of this water?”

As you can see the singular idea can go either way.

Most of us others are less spectacular. Our brains take all morning to decide whether it wants to have cornflakes or cheese toast for breakfast.  And it doesn’t end with that. Do I take the bus or do I take out the car; do I follow up with the client or do I wait; do I ask her out is her best friend better; do I need more formals or casuals; should I spend more or invest; parents or friends this weekend….

Life is always stranded on a bus stop, wondering which one to board and which one to let go. We are used to it. No matter how nagging, these discussions in the head are quite harmless. However, there are dilemmas which are closer to the core of what we are.

How do I define success? Do I even want it? I want the money part for sure, but not too much. Can I have a little happiness to go with it? And a little free time? Can I mix them all up and make my own sundae?

By the time our facial hair has matured (whatever the equivalent may be for women), we have taken sides. More or less. Some are doctors for the good money and the good conscience, some are techies for the money and the cool, some are artists for the gratification, the fame and the money, some work for the government for the leisure and the security – you may add your own profession in your own words.

Then there are people like us – the multi-talented, multi-faceted, multi-tasking, multi-purpose and multi-fractured. Even a lifetime is less to reconcile so many multi’s. But let’s cut ourselves a little slack. These are hard decisions to make. A busy corporate day spent in client meetings, conferences and driving young talents towards bigger goals is appealing for all its action, ambition and achievement. Who can resist a Top Gun-ish Tom Cruise unleashed on a boardroom.

By the time you download the forms for the executive programs in business schools (of course, you are too old for a regular MBA), the defense system kicks in. You are a connoisseur of good literature and your head knows it. So, it pitches an alternate way of life. A life not spent in chasing numbers but butterflies (that’s overstepping, accepted)… I meant a life spent not in pouring over client briefs but leafing through literature and general intellectual stuff, having more free hours in a day, meeting interesting people etc. For example, a life in academics. Who can resist a Lion for lamb-ish Robert Redford?

I know these examples are ideal types and Weber is still alive. So, what? Our mind thinks in ideal types and the guy was smart. All this doesn’t help the debate in the head one bit, but we only get one life…at a time. No one can blame us for being too greedy, picky or whatever term your expanded vocabulary suggests. Allow me to give you a watered down plain vanilla example to make all this easily understandable.

You are mad about vanilla ice cream. You are maddest about when it comes with toppings and assortments more than anything else in the world. You have world’s last bowl of vanilla ice cream in your hand. In fact, this is the last bowl of ice cream in the world. You have a tray of assortments before you…chocolate sauce, figs, strawberries, mangoes, candied fruits and whatever else you like. You can choose anything you like but you can choose only one. No begging, no pleading.

Now compound this by a zillion times, because no matter how much you love ice cream, what you do for a living is that much more important than a bowl of ice cream. So, may be you get the idea how difficult it is for middle aged misfits who have not given up, are greedy, have too much energy and ambition but no focus and a short attention span.
Some are good with words, but wait…is that yet another career option?

  • MDF

    Wow, I can relate to this a lot! Nice way of putting the essence of reality into words.