“Your Dad slept in the greenhouse last night. Well, until about 1 anyway, then he came in.”
Dad's got a new greenhouse.
I look sideways. “Why did he do that?”
Mum shrugs. “He wanted an adventure.”
Question: does contemporary society deprive men of an opportunity to express something that's inside them... some kind of hunter warrior instinct? The Strong Man who goes off adventuring in the wilderness, facing challenges and testing his strength and ingenuity, knowing that there is a loving home and community 'back home' that value him and what he is doing, bringing back victory / safety / meat.
OK, that's a bit idyllic perhaps. But I think there's something in it.
My friends Jake and Charlie were both diagnosed with schizophrenia when they were 18. They had a lot in common. Charlie is dead now and Jake's a fast stream civil servant who's marrying a beautiful woman this summer.
Both of them were filled with a beautiful wild power. It was like the world was too small for them.
Please behave yourself, it seemed to say. We have no place for your size and intensity.
One of the differences between the two is that Jake took up Martial arts. He got well into it. That seemed to provide not just a space for his abundant wild energy and strength, but also an honour and discipline to it, powerful role models with these incredible skills, heroes maybe, and support in sculpting an element of his masculinity that he could be really proud of. He used to get in fights on the streets of Camden. That seemed to stop once he could walk around at night feeling, I could kill you if I want to. There was a quiet, pleasing confidence to having powerful skills and choosing not to use them.
I say all this to my mum.
“Oh yes,” she says. “I think it's much better that men have their self-defense capabilities in their actual bodies, rather than feeling vulnerable and carrying weapons.”