Perhaps one of the more confusing inclusions on my bucket list of 302 Things to do Before I Die is a section ambiguously labeled as ‘Manly Things’.
What Are ‘Manly’ Things?
We live in a world where what it is to be a man is a considerably less cut and dried thing than it was in the past. Time was that the universal ideal of manliness in a western setting was a pretty standard thing. In the time before we had metrosexuals and cosplayers and emo kids and sensitive new age guys, we just had men and those who were not men.
Now, as somebody who definitely fit into the old ideals of manliness, I’m all for this broadening of the definition. I can’t imagine my very traditional 1950s grandfather would have been especially pleased with his grandson’s inability to do most practical tasks.
While I don’t adhere to conventional views of masculinity in some ways, that doesn’t mean I don’t mourn the death of the man who was actually capable of doing manly things like hunting, building things, or defending his lady friend from rogues.
For that reason, I included a number of more traditionally ‘manly’ things on my bucket list:
5. Climb a mountain and give a barbaric yawp at its peak.
7. Spend a week camping and living off the land.
45. Finish a marathon.
66. Catch, clean, and cook my own meal.
67. Build something with my own two hands.
106. Win an athletic contest.
107. ‘Work’ a wrestling match like the guys in the WWE.
108. Be in a fist fight.
117. Score the winning points in a game.
123. Learn to do a standing flip, kip-up, or handspring.
131. Have a debauched boys weekend away in a foreign country.
141. Eat only things I cook or prepare myself for one month.
142. Have a six pack or killer biceps.
146. Learn to light a fire and then cook something on it.
152. Overcome my fear of huntsman spiders by holding one (or a tarantula).
170. Yell at a tornado (from a safe distance).
206. Hike to Everest Base Camp.
213. Rough it in the Arctic or Siberia.
228 – Fire a gun. Further to that, fire an automatic weapon or throw a grenade. (Achieved in February 2013)
233 – Swim with a Great White and conquer my fear.
234 – Be bitten by a wild animal (and survive).
235 – Overnight in the jungle.
286 – Go rock climbing outside of a gym.
290 – Go Guerrilla Camping.
296 – Have a truly debauched, decadent boys’ weekend in Las Vegas.
298 – Play a game of full contact American Football.
Bucket List Focus
I’ve focused on the daydream of a debauched, Hangover inspired boys weekend in Las Vegas in the past, and this week I’ve opted to focus on a weekend of rugged manliness as I try to check off some of the above.
Obviously they all can’t be done at once, but quite a few of them could be checked off by grabbing some mates, picking up a couple of tents, grabbing some essentials, and going out into the wilderness to test our mettle against that cold-hearted bitch, Mother Nature.
The “where” of it would decide what exactly was possible, but at the very least I’d be able to:
- Spend a week camping and living off the land.
- Catch, clean, and cook my own meal.
- Learn to light a fire and then cook something on it.
If I picked locations wisely, I’d also be able to check off one (or more) of the following:
- Climb a mountain and give a barbaric yawp at its peak.
- Rough it in the Arctic or Siberia.
- Overnight in the jungle.
- Go rock climbing outside of a gym.
Although, as we learned from Christopher McCandless, roughing it in the the Arctic probably isn’t a great idea for a rookie camper…
Pretty much anywhere I go, there’s the chance to get bitten by a wild animal and survive too, but I’d rather it be something relatively placid like a koala or fawn than, say, a lion or tiger.
Although either of those would get me one step closer to checking off #221 on the list: “See a tiger, giant panda,
bear, elephant, lion, giraffe, hyena, bison, blue whale, platypus, rhino, hippo, and gorilla in the wild”…
The Lure of Camping
Despite my decidedly indoorsy look and lifestyle, I’m actually quite enamored of the great outdoors. Some of my favourite memories from my trips abroad have involved just being out amidst nature; whether that be all alone in Walnut Creek Canyon, riding above the trees on the Route of the Hiawatha, or spending a day in Yosemite National Park.
Maybe it’s that I grew up in smaller towns where I became quite comfortable with the lack of traffic noise and conveniences, or maybe it’s because I find that I’m at my most inspired when the wind is blowing through the trees and I’m as far removed from ‘today’ as I possibly can be.
The more I talk about serenity and inspiration, the more I feel like it wouldn’t be a particularly rugged or manly weekend after all…
Back to Manliness!
In truth, I do think it’s lamentable that so many of my peers have been reduced to office-dwelling milk drinkers. I’m not saying we should all be brash outdoorsmen who beat our wives with clubs and have big bushy beards, but seems to me the majority of men these days would be hard pressed to survive a few days in the wild or the zombie apocalypse – myself definitely included.
A week in the wild ‘roughing it’ with our smartphones and high quality tents and warm sleeping bags and eskies full of food certainly isn’t likely to make us all Bear Grylls style survivalists, but it might move us a little closer to being self-sufficient human beings; and I can’t say that would be a bad thing.
What’s your stance on camping? Do you like to rough it in the wilderness? Or are you more of a fully furnished campsite with BBQs and toilets kind of person? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Or do you prefer your nature in bite sized, day trip varieties?