The Desire To Be A Better Man

As far as I can remember, I’ve had a strong desire to be a better person since my childhood. I’m not sure why, but I can think of some possible explanations.

I got a younger sister and I became an older brother. It’s possible that I had this idea of being a good role model for my sister and I wanted to be a better person. As I write this, my inner voice is telling me this is probably not the case. I do aspire to be a good brother now and am ready to help when my siblings are in need of help. But, remembering what I was like, I don’t know if I really had a desire to be a good role model for my sister as well as my other siblings. I guess I was rather mean and bossy to my sisters and brother.

I was somewhat obsessed with comic books. I wasn’t physically strong as a child, and perhaps I was dreaming of becoming a hero like the ones I read in comic books. I think this comic book hypothesis is plausible.

I should note, however, that I didn’t do anything to become my own hero. I was almost dreaming.

I did read a lot of books though. Reading books and thinking do help one grow as a person. So, while I didn’t do much to improve my physical abilities, I had been working on my mental strength.

I wonder if my desire for growth in general was driven by the desire to be accepted by others, especially my parents and my grandparents. Did I want to be loved by my parents and my grandparents? I’m not sure. I guess I can understand if I wanted to be loved by my mother and my grandparents, but perhaps not by my father. I used to hate him, because of his abusive nature.

Or perhaps I wanted to prove myself to others, including my father. If I was feeling that way – that is, if I was feeling the need to prove myself, that’s most likely because I wasn’t confident about myself. If you know who you are and trust yourself, then you don’t feel the urge to prove yourself, unless you are asked to prove yourself and proving yourself is an inevitable task.

Speaking of my father, here’s another possible explanation as to why I feel the desire to be a better person. My parents got divorced when I was 10, and I got more mature by going through situations that arose from the divorce of my parents. I do remember feeling the responsibility of being the first male child in the family as a 10 year old boy. I needed to be strong.

Strength has been an important concept to me. What does it mean to be strong? How can I become strong? I wanted to be a better person, and what that meant to me and what that means to me involve this concept of being strong. I’m in search of true strength.

My father past away when I was 14. I hadn’t been in touch with him and I didn’t see him when he died. The news about his death was shocking to me, even though I hated to him. My hatred towards him didn’t stop me from crying, because when it comes to things like this, we can’t somehow forget bad things and remember good things. Well, that was the case for me anyway. So I cried, and going through this experience made me stronger somehow.

As I think about it, I don’t know why I was driven to become a better person. I don’t know why I was driven for growth. As I mentioned earlier, it’s possible a part of my motive was to impress.

Of course, I have been a curious person and my desire for knowledge and new experiences has been a great source of joy. So, even if a part of me was working on becoming a better person in order to impress others, I’d say a larger part of me was doing it for the sake of joy.

I didn’t go to and study abroad in Australia to impress others. I didn’t study philosophy to impress others. I didn’t start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to impress others. I did them, because these things attracted me somehow.

Now, this one is rather recent, but for the last few years, I’ve had a strong desire to be a better man, not just a better person. When I say this, sometimes I get a question – why not a better person rather than a better man? A brief answer I have is that there are some specific things about being a better man that don’t necessarily apply to being a better person.

It all started with a very simple question: How can I be an attractive man? What’s implicit here is to be attractive to women. So, there you go. Of course, an attractive person is attractive to… both women and men, but what is it that makes a man attractive? In fact, what does it mean to be a man? That is, what does it mean to embrace male sexuality? It all started with a simple question; yet, this simple question opened the paths to other interesting questions as well.

A significant part of my desire to be a better man is about understanding and celebrating women better as well as being authentic and expressing who I am to them. This is the simplest explanation I can give as to why it’s about being a better man rather than about being a better person.

I still have this desire to be a better man. This is a life long journey, and that’s a good thing. I’m not here to prove myself, but to learn and to share what I’ve learned.

Actually, what I’ve learned so far is pretty simple: It’s not so much about adding new stuff, but it’s about being authentic – showing up as who you are. If we are talking about specific skills, then yes, you could add new skills and knowledge, but if we are talking about being a better man in the sense of being more attractive, then what men need to realize is that they are probably attractive already when they are not pretending to be someone they are not.

Are you ready to be brutally honest with yourself and even admit your vulnerabilities and weaknesses instead of trying to look away from them? That takes some courage and real strength.

I sometimes wonder though. I know some good friends who are on a similar path, but do other men have a similar desire like mine – a desire to be a better man by understanding and celebrating women more?

Oh yes, I have another desire. I want to see more men joining this journey.

Two Questions I Find Difficult To Answer

In addition to a few standard questions we ask each other when we meet, like “what’s your name?” and “where are you from?”, I often get the following questions while traveling (i.e. now).

Question 1. What do you do back in Japan?
Question 2. Are you on a vacation?

It may seem easy enough to answer these questions like saying your name or where you are from, but I find it difficult to answer these questions without explaining my situation.

Here’s my situation.

I packed 99% of things I own into a 35l backpack and a messenger bag and I left Japan without any fixed plan of going back. Since I’m not based in Japan, Question 1 doesn’t make much sense in this case.

Having said that, when people ask you about what you do, they are asking about your profession, even though you can tell them whatever you want to tell them. I do, in fact, tell them that I do martial arts unless they specifically ask me about how I earn money.

Question 2 is tricky for me, because I don’t know what exactly it means to be on a vacation. No, I’m not on a business trip. That’s clear. But am I on a vacation? I guess what’s being assumed in this question is that I have a 9-to-5 job or that I am a student. (Side note: I am a student of life. I will never stop learning.)

Also, here’s a twist that you may or may not have known: I’m a freelance English-to-Japanese translator. It’s not always the case that I’m fully booked for a month or two, but when I have a project to work on, I’m working while being on the road. So, I’m not exactly on a vacation in a traditional sense.

But I’m happy this way. Having more flexibility and control over what I want to do would be great and I will work on it, but where I am right now is pretty good for me.

There’s no need for rushing. It may take a while, but I know I will get closer to where I’m heading.

What Matters At The End Of Your Life

I feel that what matters at the end of your life is how much you loved.

There are some immediate thoughts that come to my mind regarding the statement above.

1. Is it the only thing that matters at the end of your life?
2. Why not the opposite of loving – being indifferent?
3. Loving what?

Before going through these thoughts, I’ll define the act of loving as the act of giving yourself to someone or something for the sake of delight in the act itself rather than for the sake of something in return. This is a brief definition and may be revised, but what I have in mind is something like this. For now, I think this is good enough.

Now I’ll go through each thought.

1. Is it the only thing that matters at the end of your life?
Maybe this is not the only thing that matters at the end of your life. However, it seems to me that other things that would count as what matters are closely related.

For example… living a happy life matters? I reckon loving is a pretty good way to live a happy life, because you will be delighted from the act of loving. If you practice the act of loving everyday, your life will be full of delight. That sounds like a happy life to me.

How about living a meaningful life? Doing something meaningful important matters in your life. Again, the act of loving seems to be a big motivator for doing something meaningful, because it’s how you give yourself to someone or something, believing in that person or that thing.

These are only two examples and I can’t even think of things that matter and have no connection with the act of loving. Any thoughts?

2. Why not the opposite of loving – being indifferent?
I have a rhetorical answer to this one. Do I want to say, at the last day of my life, “I kept my poker face for my entire life. I’ve been totally indifferent to everything. I didn’t love anything at all. For these reasons, my life was worth living than a possible life of mine in which I loved a lot”?


3. Loving what?

I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I love women. I love food. I love friends who inspire me. I love finding the beauty in unexpected places. I love reading books. I love dancing. I love my life. There are a lot of people, things, and places I love.

But what if I loved something immoral or someone questionable? What if I loved the act of harming people? Wait a second. I clearly don’t love people in that case when you consider it objectively, even though I may love the act of harming people itself. So, this kind of love probably limits my love for people and things – that doesn’t sound good to me, if what matters is how much you loved, because you could love more if you abandoned your love for the act of harming people.

So, some things are good to love, and some things are not so good to love – that’s what I’m trying to get at here. But when it comes to people – perhaps that’s a different story. Everyone needs to be loved.

How much are you going to love in your life? The thing is, you can choose to love no matter what.

It Ain’t Just A Water Fight, But A Learning Opportunity

We can learn something from anyone and anything. There’s something I learned last weekend. It’s about… enjoying simple things.

I had massive water fights at the Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. From the Thai New Year’s Day, 13 April, to 15 April, the whole city of Chiang Mai becomes a battle field for water fights. Locals and visitors equip themselves with water guns and/or buckets, and throw water at each other.

This didn’t sound like the most exciting thing to me, but when I actually got water-attacked by people and threw water at them with my 20 baht bucket, my view changed.

It was a simple, pure joy. Adults, kids, men, women, locals, foreign visitors. Those who chose to stay outside during the Songkran Festival had such fun through this simple act of water fighting.

It’s not just with a few people, but with a whole city of people doing this simple thing with you and having fun. That’s amazing. I saw smiles everywhere. I was smiling the whole time too.

(Curious what it’s like? Here’s a video.)

A day or two after the Songkran Festival ended, I thought about what I learned from this whole experience. What came to my mind was this very, very simple act of having fun. I’m up for having fun. I do have fun. But sometimes I’m not and sometimes I don’t. It’s not necessarily the case that I’m against having fun in such times when I’m not up for having fun or don’t have fun; I tend to be rather neutral. But the thing is – I could choose to have fun and I could choose to find something joyful in each thing I do.

This thought leads me to a question: Why not? Why don’t I choose to have fun as much and as often as possible? I’m not talking about big things here, but tiny, tiny things like walking around your familiar neighborhood. Or breathing. Around you, there are so many things to feel joyful about and to be amused and amazed by.

What were you like as a child? What kind of fun did you have when you were little? Remembering these things would be a good place to start rediscovering how to enjoy simple things in case you’ve forgotten how.

Are you having fun?