Boys Will Be Men

The final thought that Aimee Mullins inspired was the notion that adversity gives one a ‘sense of self…a sense of our own power.’

“Until we are tested, we don’t know what we are made of. Perhaps that’s what adversity gives us…a sense of self. A sense of our own power.”

That comment recalled my own personal experience which was subsequently interpreted and shared by my mother, Marjorie Lynn. One of my earliest and most prominent experiences with reflective writing was when I took a year off of university to go work in the West African country of Togo. Not only was I working for a press firm, David Apter and Associates, doing advance work for travel writers, but I was producing my own copy about this vibrant part of the world. In addition to the stuff sent back to HQ, I also produced reams of personal reflections that I sent home to my parents.

Years later when my mother retired, she stumbled upon the box of these old Togo letters and started rereading them. In the perspective of time, she did not see them as a travel log or missive of daily life or even a pre-Internet blog (which they sort of were), but rather the account of a young man going through a rite of passage. She compiled and edited the letters into an account she titled “Boys Will Be Men: A Soon Comes of Age in His Own Words”.

So from my own experience I can support what Aimee is saying. Perhaps that is one of the things ‘wrong’ with the world for young people these days which maybe affects young men with particularly intensity. It is all so easy. Life is safe and comfortable in most of middle class western society. There are few truly demanding challenges. Challenges that can disorient, as well as risk life and limb in middle class western society. Video games provide a methadone-like surrogate for thrill and adrenalin, but are just as useless in exercising the heart and soul as they are the body. Perhaps the rise of adventure sports (boarding, climbing, jumping) are modern, urban, technology-enhanced versions of bush-trials and vision quests. More needs to be done to highlight and expand the offerings of things like Project Adventure and the Peace Corps for young people who seek and need this testing by adversity.