Gardening, bro. Hmm, why does that seem ironic? This is a glimpse into the masculine ideal that we are collectively entrenched in. In that conception of being a man, bro, gangster, boss, or whatever one calls it, tenderly caring for the Earth doesn’t contribute to one’s social status. Getting your macros, obvi, but ensuring that those calories were harvested in an environmentally conscious way? Scoff. Flex.
As men, there are specific factors that cause us to be cut off from the Earth. One is the lack of a healthy relationship to the inner feminine. When I am in touch with this dimension of myself, I feel aliveness in my body and a palpable sense of beauty and vitality around me. I am taken for a ride as I receive the unfolding of the world around me, as opposed to molding it to my will. When we refuse to be contacted and caressed by the world around us, we remain in exile from life in a way. In our separation, men can act in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t dream of, such as instrumentalizing nature and women. Instead of facing the reality of our actions like big boys, we numb ourselves to drown out the pain and fear of our own capacity for destruction. Through ruthless power and stubborn distance, we maintain a feeling of safety.
Deep down, I’ve been repelled by this conception of masculinity. This rejection has led me to explore largely feminine areas of interest and activity. I also admit that this exploration is in part driven by my longing for that sense of being held and nurtured that I, along with what I imagine to be many men in our society, are prevented from experiencing. (Our inner children are wailing!)
Our collective fear of vulnerability and embracing the inner feminine leads to defensive mechanisms of “bro-y-ness”, male-dominated self-interested institutions (fraternities, governments, corporations), and a willing blindness to the systematic exploitation of the Earth. My own attempts to connect with my peers here at university mirrors my own implication in this, though. I tend to speak and act in a “bro” way around other guys to seem strong and worthy of friendship and not be ridiculed for the soft loving parts of myself. And other guys who may actually be sensitive see that I am not showing that, so they cover their softness up as well. And we end up having a full-length convo about how to get swole (to feel safe and powerful in our disconnection) rather than connecting on a heart level.
Men, and especially young guys coming up through the university system, must meet each other in our vulnerability in order to feel again and begin to heal the planet. Otherwise, we will continue to maintain numbing patterns of behavior and blind perspectives that only serve to keep us feeling safe in an artificial, rootless masculine ideal. And I realize that this begins with me letting down my guards and speaking to this truth. I’ve never been a real bro. But really, who has?