Men need to live with a primal wildness that is connected to something larger than themselves; something grand, where crucial and significant things are at stake.
The train ride to work, the gridlock on the freeway, and endless demands of keeping up with modern society are not a natural fit for that primal wildness. Likewise for deadlines, financial pressures, and all that spam email you get.
We feel it. Something is out of place. We chafe at the daily grind.
The tyranny of the urgent pushes to the margin, or out of the frame entirely, any thought that (1) there is a good, primal wildness about us as men, and (2) there is a place for it.
Albert Schweizer once said, “The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”
Amen. We feel it.
Too often, primal wildness comes out sideways. It shows itself in destructive ways. For many of us, myself included, the unhealthy expression of primal wildness results in a fear of masculinity.
When i was younger i certainly feared the masculinity of other men, as well as my own.
What if there were another option?
That option is something John Eldredge refers to as Mythic Reality. Fear not, i am not about to geek out here or go all Renaissance Faire on you.
Mythic Reality is reality, or a way of seeing and engaging with life, that is tied to what is eternal. Mythic Reality awakens your heart to the deep truths of life. It calls to us through all sorts of experiences we have, in relationships and stories and adventures.
For most of us it’s not even on our radar that there is a such a thing as Mythic Reality. Nor is it a thought that Mythic Reality is actually more true than the Matrix we’re living in.
And yet, it is. We feel it. Mythic Reality calls to us in countless ways and we are restless.
We need to connect with our primal wildness and express it without causing damage to others. Mythic Reality is the place where a man’s wildness is not only welcome, it is needed.
Wheaton College English professor Clyde Kilby, who is known for his scholarship on the writings of both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, said that man is fundamentally mythic.
Maybe that explains the tension we feel as men in a very un-mythic day-to-day reality.
We are made in the image of God, which means that we bear resemblance to Him at the level of the heart, soul, mind and strength.
How stunning is this world? How wild and expansive is the natural wilderness? How adventurous can a life be that ventures out into the unknown? How breathtaking is beauty? How unfathomable is a person’s soul?
And notice that a curious heart never tires of these questions and the truths these questions explore. We never grow weary of gazing upon beauty. We never fail to be invigorated by that which is good and true and adventurous and expansive.
We feel it. Our hearts resonate with all of this.
Mythic Reality invites us into a world that is as expansive as our hearts know truth must be. The image of God in us recognizes, and is drawn to, the reality of God’s good kingdom that Mythic Reality allows us to experience.
It also provides the context for us to understand the reality of two opposing kingdoms in conflict; it is a framework for understanding the reality of evil and the need of our primal wildness in the battle for what is right and true.
This is the reality that is veiled by the Matrix, but is actually the true reality of our lives. We see it in dramatic ways: Marriages that are exploding; people we love trapped in addictions; hopelessness; and socio-political tensions throughout the world.
But we see it in subtle ways also. The quiet resignation that creeps over us. Those things in us that die while we live, as Schweizer said.
Mythic Reality calls forth the masculine warrior identity. We need that in order to live well, to thrive in a broken world. We need it so that we can fight for grand things like justice, and we need it to fight for healthy relationships.
The truth is crucial and significant things are at stake. The primal wildness of man needs its healthy expression in the warrior identity we were made to embody as imagebearers of God Himself.
Can you feel it?