Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Warrior Within

This may sound a bit dated to some, but many people believe that a man cannot live his life as a man until he recognizes the warrior within.

This is supposed to be why guys watch football games, action movies, and talk at work like their casting for a part on “The Sopranos”. They may be wearing a tie and suit jacket, and they may only be making copies of last quarter’s sales. But, in their mind’s eye, they’re getting ready to fight some invisible enemy. Especially if the copy machine jams. Then the stock broker quickly becomes “The Terminator”, and that copy machine is going to need a serious tune-up. These guys aren't able to recognize the warrior within, and act screwy, lashing out at copy machines or traffic jams, in small random acts of violence.

According to this point of view, the tough guy thing is a deeply evolved response. Older than football, older than man himself as a species. Something that goes back over a hundred million years ago.

And, most of a guy’s early years are spent in which their mothers, their surrogate mothers at school, and later in marriage, try to train young men to not attack things they hate. Don’t punch other little boys. Don’t beat their mathbooks to pieces. Don’t throw their tools around the garage or their lawnmowers across the yard. One can understand why, of course.

Nonetheless, short of castration, either physically or chemically, repression of the inner warrior is futile. At least as long as testosterone is flowing through a man’s body, a guy is going to act like, well, testosterone is flowing through his body.

Men aren’t the only ones whose emotions are ruled by their hormone ebb and flow. Some woman, after menopause and their estrogen levels plummet, start to grow mustaches and get very, very grouchy. I don’t know if there is a correlation between menopause and becoming a serious football fan. But, the next time you see Grandma come swaggering out of her Lincoln Towncar like Tony Soprano, think about it. Don’t mention it to her, though.

She may just grumble, “Hey, show a little respect, okay?”

But in her mind’s eye, Grandma’s grabbing you by your crotch and throwing you across the hood of her car, ya’ freaking fat bastard punk.

In the book, and later the movie, “Fight Club”, the suppressed inner warrior is characterized as the lead character’s invisible friend who loves wild sex and fighting. In “Star Wars”, the man’s inner warrior is portrayed as The Dark Force.

I knew a guy up in Pennsylvania who was looking to join a week long retreat called something like, “The Spiritual Warrior”. For some number of thousands of dollars, he was looking forward to getting in touch with that inner warrior.

I told him, “I can help you become a warrior. Why don’t you join the Reserves or National Guard and become a door gunner on a Blackhawk helicopter, for example?”

His jaw dropped, his eyes widened, and he stared at me, and after a pause, he said, “You don’t have to actually fight anyone to be a warrior.”

“Uhm, yes you do. Otherwise, you’re just dressing up like cowboys and Indians, except it cost a lot more to do it as an adult. And, it looks kinda silly, everyone sitting around with their shirts off, sweating, while some guy sits in the middle and beats his drum and complains about his life. There are real enemies, you know. Like Al Qa’ida, the ones that killed three thousand of your countrymen on 9/11. It was in the all the papers and on the news a little ways back? If you want to get in touch with your inner warrior, why not fight them?”

No, he never signed up with the Reserves or National Guard. Don’t know whatever happened to him, to tell you the truth. And, with his serious drug and drinking problems, the Army is better off without him.

But, it’s sad, really. He’s like so many others. They just don’t get it.