We were driving down the street this morning and we noticed three men putting in a retaining wall. We saw a couple of shovels and a wheelbarrow. There were stacks of those pre-formed hex-shaped concrete ‘stones.’ The men had dug out the bank and were placing the stones in place. No more mowing of a steep bank in the summer. It was about ten o’clock and already about eight-five degrees; the sweat was running in torrents. Something about this scene captivated me.
The men were holding shovels and concrete blocks and gesturing to one another as they talked through the marvel of engineering they were creating. A small boy stood on the porch watching. We saw the men of Robert Bly’s imagination. Forceful. Resolute. Determined. Imaginative. Hopeful. Adrenaline and Testosterone were coursing through their veins. There was a job to be done and they were up to the task. These men are the products of the determination that forged itself across the landscape of America two and three hundred years past. We pondered, ‘What is that small boy learning about what it means to be a man?’
These men will retire for the evening. They will have supper with their families. They will read to their children and tuck the children into bed. They will nurture the generations of the future. The small boy will look into his father’s eyes and he will see love.
He will begin to understand mature masculinity. Forceful and resolute, but not cruel.