A BETTER MAN-IFESTO
Being a Better Man is really just a state of grace - here’s my road map for getting there, in this next year of betterment.
A Better Man is…accountable: “Owning your shit” (as one ex-girlfriend so elegantly put it) isn’t easy in a world where issues are lubricated with excuses and half-truths (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” “Saddam has WMDs.” “I wasn’t making a pass at that man, I have a wide stance”). The world needs more disgraced heroes who show character in defeat… not the David Letterman, contrition-is-good-for-ratings type, but the Tiger Woods, take-a-nine-iron-to-the-head-lose-your-sponsors-and-give-up-the-game-to-be-‘better’-types. That’s something I hope to find with…
PROJECT “MY BAD”
- I will retrace my steps and re-visit my mistakes (there are a few), fix what I can, and own what I can’t.
- I will be harsh and unsentimental in my self-assessment,
- I will seek counsel from people I KNOW have an opinion on how I could be better: ex-girlfriends, ex-bosses, my mom, etc.
A Better Man…makes the world a better place. This one seems so obvious, but krikey, where to start? Saving the environment, people, penguins, or heading up the “Blonde Girl Anti-Defamation League?” All worthy causes, but my solution is…
PROJECT “DO ME A SOLID”
- I’ll do a bit of everything, as long as my good deeds can have a DIRECT impact, starting with volunteering
- I’ll go wherever where my help is needed – down the street, or around the globe, mowing a lawn or working with relief efforts in a disaster zone.
- I’ll help patch up a relationship…I mean, why not? I’m turning 40, everyone I know is either getting divorced or on the verge of it. How many families or friends have a grudge that needs mending? Maybe I can help.
So help me help others by sending your ideas or your own needs. Real stuff only please.
A better man…knows how to do stuff. It’s called self-possession; knowing exactly what to do in a crisis, and doing it. Navy SEALs are self-possessed. Jason Bourne is self- possessed. Leonardo Da Vinci was self-possessed. Me, a man of all things? No, but it could happen.
PROJECT RENAISSANCE MAN
- I’ll learn to fix my own motorcycle (after I get a new one).
- I’ll become handy, like learning carpentry. Jesus was a carpenter. So was Harrison Ford (and that dude became Indiana Jones).
- I’ll learn to dance…the kind of dancing that people watch D-listers do on TV, the kind that helps a handsome spy get out of a near-lethal jam.
- Since I’ve spent the last decade devoted to music and living vicariously through its creators, now I’ll take the stage. I’ll sing in a band (I’m pretty good at karoake) and maybe even write and record a song.
- I will read. Not just what I like, but books that are actually good for me (ones with fewer pictures) and challenge my ideas.
A Better Man…can fight – because he ain’t nobody’s bitch. He can stand his ground and get what he wants, even if he has to crush someone’s larynx to get it. Call me a reductionist, but I believe knowing how to throw down can help you stand up. I will kick ass in a variety of ways. And if I get my ass kicked –well, there’s value in that too.
PROJECT IRON FIST/velvet glove
- I will learn to fight and I will compete in a mixed martial arts bout before the year is out. Knowing you can doesn’t mean you must – but it helps.
- I will seek out experts to the learn fine arts of negotiation and persuasion, to have my way, and my way with people.
- I will discover how to prevail in the psychological mind-fucking that women seem so good at and I usually get shredded by.
A Better Man…gets involved. My righteous indignation at the state of the world sounds great in theory, but my quips on Twitter and Facebook aren’t going to make ANYTHING better. There was a great one liner that this guy named Obama used to get elected to the most powerful position in the world and captivate the planet: “Yes We Can” change for the better. But have we held up our end of the bargain? Perhaps, if “Yes We Can” means buying the big screen TV (on credit) at Best Buy because “it was on sale.”
PROJECT MODEL CITIZEN
- When it comes to politicians, wouldn’t it be nice to vote for someone who comes across as authentic and not insipid, feckless, or mildly resentful of the very people he claims to represent? That’s why if there’s a federal or provincial election called in the next calendar year, I will run as the candidate I’d want to vote for.
- In the meantime, I’ll get active; watch for me at the public meetings (Question Period is out, NOW, thanks Prime Minister) the law courts, and maybe some protests.
- I’ll voice my opinion by writing letters to the editor, posting in forums, being a pundit on panels.
- I’ll take a stand on issues that matter to me, and try to get interested in those that don’t.
- I’ll attempt to right some wrongs, like a superhero but without the cape.
A Better Man…knows what he believes. Growing up, my mom was a devout Christian, and perhaps a less-than-ideal example of one; judgmental and intolerant of mistakes. Dad, on the other hand, was a decent man whose principal deities were crossword puzzles and Hockey Night in Canada. Thanks to their example, I don’t know if I believe in God but I’m still afraid of Him. I sit on a fence, mad at religion and stymied by faith. Well, this year, I pick a side.
THE GOD PROJECT
- I will consult with the experts, from Gurus to Wiccans, Richard Gere to Richard Dawkins, to find the essence of their belief.
- Each Sunday I will make some time for the BIG GUY. I will go to churches, mosques, and synagogues (and not only because I dig the Shebrews).
- I’ll listen to my mom. sigh.
A Better Man would be good to his family. Mom is a lovely woman today, so no one believes me when I tell them she once had a bit of Joan Crawford in her; quick to anger, impossible to please, rigidly married to a picture of family harmony that was at odds with reality. Growing up, I was TERRIFIED of her and life with my many siblings was much like Communist Russia – I couldn’t trust them with anything, because at any time they might rat me out to mom in order to save themselves. This year, I stop pretending to like these people I call blood, and find out if I actually do…
- I will scribble on our family’s picture of harmony by exploring all the dark secrets hidden in the recesses of our history
- I will confess to all of the shit I’ve done in my life (they can read it here, actually)
- At the very least, I will remember their birthdays and send everyone a card, on time. We’ll see how it goes from there.
A Better Man would love the right woman right. By all accounts, I have been with the “right” women, in that they were smart, beautiful, talented, compassionate, funny, and agreed to sleep with me more than once. I screwed it up with all of them. Instead, I’ve obsessed over the wrongs ones; dumb, superficial, self-absorbed, trading on their beauty like it’s their only commodity. I have zero game with this kind of woman. Sadly, my inability to bed these ladies lends them an otherworldly mystique not earned in the same way it would be if they had, say, character. And the right women in my life suffer as a consequence. Of course, this is ridiculous, but my heart has shit for brains. I must neuter their power over me, so that I may look at Goddess and know that her wit is more seductive than a boatload of swimsuit models.
- I suspect this could only be achieved by trying to nail as many of those models as I can, and for that I will consult the biggest douchebags around for tips. The way I see it now, (granted, I am not better yet, just trying) only by making peace with their hotness can I make peace with myself.
- I will become the ultimate sexual servant. I will check with the ex’s in a potentially emasculating evaluation to discover my areas in need of improvement. I think I am pretty good right now, but I am willing to practice. (Kidding. Kinda. Uh…not really.)
- I will watch Oprah. Can it hurt?
A Better Man would be Master of his Fate. I like having my imagination tested and nothing tests it quite like making television. I bow to the power of the medium, from shooting to editing, directing to writing — it captivates me. But a lot of TV is dumb, really dumb, and what isn’t dumb is already lousy with talented people. I mean, are they going to recast Californication with me in the lead? Maybe, if Duchovny’s sex addiction finally does him in (man, what a way to go!). Rather than hoping to find the work I love, I will CREATE it instead.
- I’ve always admired those people who start something of their own. NOW I join them… starting with this blog.
- I will own the room, pitch MY ideas, and go with my gut because I’ve got nothing to lose.
- I will study from the greats – great successes and even greater failures (failure stalks every successful enterprise, and there is something to be learned from a loser – that’s the whole point of this blog, really)
- I’ll put in long hours schmoozing and drink whiskey while looking amazing, if necessary.
- And IF, in the process, lucrative job offers are tendered, book deals are signed, David Mamet casts me in his next thriller, and parades are thrown in my honour…well, so be it.
And JUST IN CASE we’re all wrong about what is BETTER, I have another project…
I’ve spent most of my life being nice, polite, amicable and agreeable and now look where I am. Looking around, I see a lot of guys out for the greater good who have to pull some prick moves to get things done – Simon Cowell, Rahm Emmanuel, Satan. Maybe the better man…is an Asshole.
PROJECT ARI GOLD
- I will consult with unapologetic assholes and and learn their principals.
- I’ll put those lessons into practice (AFTER learning to fight, just in case).
- I will reflect on my own jagoffness (interviewing friends and ex-lovers) and then accentuate my inner dickface.
- I will read more Ayn Rand, the patron saint of assholes.
For those of you who’ve read this far, you may be making fun of me at this point. It’s very likely I could fail, and not even fail spectacularly, but recede into complete obscurity and life as a Starbucks barista. But the way I see it, the only wrong thing to do is nothing. So why not join me in pursuit of betterment? When we’re wrong we’ll laugh it off and when we’re right, we’ll just know. Because a better man doesn’t have to think about the kind of man he wants to be, he simply is THAT MAN.
And so it begins…