19 November

Men and Change

by Jon Katz

Bedlam dogs in the garden. Frieda is across the street

 Change is difficult and complex for anyone in America these days. Money shapes and bounds our lives and politics. We live for health care, retirement, security – all relatively new concepts in the world. Miss a credit card payment or get a chronic health condition, and life changes. The idea of a secure lifetime job, once a staple of men’s lives, has all but vanished. Our culture generates money but no jobs, and computers have freed up information and ramped up tension – see what happens when you get a moving violation or miss a couple of payments.
  Men work harder and longer, and for less. Few men get to do what they love, live where they wish, change if they want.  Few men have close friends, or speak much to the ones they do have.
  They hide their aspirations, fears and emotional selves.
  And if they do change, they are labeled strange or irresponsible, and branded with the term “mid-life crisis.” So the men that change are either crazy or very brave, and the luckiest ones have partners or spouses who cheer them on.
  Yet the happiest and most fulfilled men I know are ones who have changed.
   I think in my case that the fears of men are invariably worse than the realities. Like most people, I could live comfortably in a rental cabin if I had to. Fear and expectations ought not create the boundaries of my life, even if I completely understand them.
  I do not choose to live for my IRA, assisted care program or health plan. I may very well regret those decisions one day – people assure me that I will. But I intend to live my life in the moment, not in the future, or for a health plan. Love and work. I want to do what I love, and love what I do, for as long as that is possible. After that, I’ll take my chances.
   You can’t alter your life if you can’t change. You can’t grow if you can’t change. Or learn. It’s the great condundrum of men’s lives, and I have no easy answer for it. Only my own notions.

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