The Real Reason Modern Men Are Aimless

So, a couple evenings back I watched the Divergent movie with my wife (don’t judge).

It was actually pretty good, and I felt myself getting swept up in the story.

It struck me that a good movie is enjoyable not just because it’s a chance to “veg out” but because it lets us experience vicariously what it’s like to have a clear, narrow purpose.

In the movies, some evil villain pushes the hero of the story to the breaking point, until their back is against the wall and they have no choice but to fight back.

We don’t have that kind of clear, desperate purpose in real life.

And, consciously or not, we are starving for it.

Our closest taste of this is in survival settings, when faced with rare life or death situations.

Years ago, my wife called me on her cell phone to tell me she’d just flipped the car on a patch of ice.

I remember sprinting through the snow the half mile to reach her, to make sure she was okay. Nothing could stand in my path because my wife’s need triggered utter focus and purpose in me.

Life or death brings out the best in us as men.

But, paradoxically, there is far less danger and violence in our everyday lives than ever before in the history of men.

Unlike in the movies, there is no over-arching story that narrows and clarifies our purpose, no “one great enemy” that calls out the hero in us.

In real life, we must create our own over-arching stories. We must narrow our paths by our own choosing.

Just as there are a thousand brands of toothpaste to choose from in the grocery story, there are thousand different lives we could live.

Afraid of choosing “the wrong life”… we choose none at all. At least, none with conviction.

Yet until you do… until you choose a mission that stretches you far beyond comfort, you will be wasted in waiting.

Your life will be a long, quiet seep of anxiety and irritability.

You will continue to ask yourself “When will my ‘true life’ begin? The one I’ve been waiting for?”

So stop “keeping your options open.”

Choose one worthy, daunting path, and walk down it, to the exclusion of all others. Open yourself completely to the difficulty that path will unleash on you.

Only then will your life take on the meaning and purpose you’ve been longing for.


Bryan Ward is the founder of Third Way Man and author of the LIT Black Paper

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