RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2015.
I have written about manliness for quite some time. I have also done countless lists on different parts of the overall subject of manliness. They will help you evolve from a cub to a full-fledged grizzly. But sometimes, the grizzly has to evolve as well.
While always maintaining the characteristics of being lord of the wilderness, we as human beings also have to adapt and grow in our own world. You can be a badass motherfucker who is self-sufficient and a true go-getter. However, we are also above the wild beasts and not just because we have opposable thumbs.
For instance, if you are invited to a regal gala as a guest, you don’t show up dressed like a lumberjack gnawing on a bone. I mean, I’d respect and love a guy who did but it isn’t going to get you past the doorman. And don’t hit the doorman, he’s just doing his job.
The point here, is that we are an evolved species. We are still in many ways animals but we are also human beings and human beings have qualities that animals don’t. Can a moose play a trombone? Can a gorilla make red wine reduction sauce? Can an alligator build a house of cards? Can a lion master Canfield solitaire? Can a bison drive a Ferrari 458? The answer to all of these is “no.”
However, a man can do all of these things and this is why we are better than creatures that simply succumb to their animalistic urges. We can do more, we want more and we can be more than the sum of animal parts because we have human parts.
Presented here, is a list of things that a man can do in an effort to make himself more refined. You don’t have to do these things and can continue to be a simple grizzly but don’t expect to woo as many womenfolk or to have them invite you to dinner at the Senator’s house.
And now, the list:
1. Learn enough about fashion to know what doesn’t work and then don’t wear what doesn’t work. Also, wear what makes you comfortable. You can have your own unique style but you also don’t want to look like a clown. Many people are terrified of clowns, especially ones acting like caged animals clawing at their silly clothes.
2. Listen to some real music once in awhile. All that EDM shit does is rot your brain. Sometimes I do like my brain to rot a bit but nothing says “refinement” in the musical realm more than a man that knows a little something about jazz or any other musical genre that uses real instruments.
3. Learn to play an instrument. This shows off your dedication, skill and passion. Any and all passion is good. I once tried my hand at the saxophone. I quit too early and have regretted it since. I was also really young and my mum didn’t push me into continuing. An instrument is something I would like to pick up again.
4. Learn how to find the answers to your own questions. Google is an amazing tool. Don’t constantly ask people simple shit you can find the answers to with a few keystrokes on your smartphone.
5. Stop being lazy. If you have a problem or something that needs to be taken care of, get off of your ass and fucking do it. A refined man doesn’t procrastinate and wait for something to potentially blow over. They attack it head on, deal with it and move on to the next thing.
6. Similar to number four, learn how to fix your own problems. Granted, some problems can’t be fixed alone but no one likes a guy that needs his hand held every step of the way through life. One thing punk rock taught me was “do it yourself.”
7. Learn from your experiences. Don’t keep making the same mistakes or asking the same people, the same questions again and again. You look like a fucking fool and no one will give a shit when you actually have a legit problem. Stop dating assholes, stop hanging with douchebags, stop finding yourself doing that same thing that always gets you into trouble.
8. Be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t over-project your presence on other people. Don’t be an obnoxious self-absorbed asshole. Know how certain things you do or say could affect other people in your immediate environment.
9. Learn how to express yourself in regards to difficult topics like politics and religion. Or just shut the fuck up about it, if you don’t have the self-restraint to not come off as a psychotic hot head. Assholes never convert anybody to their cause.
10. As an extension of number nine, when talking about difficult topics, know what you are talking about. Don’t just parrot what you’ve heard and take other opinions at face value: adopting them as your own. Know how to confirm facts and know how to hold up your end of a debate.
11. Put down the swill. This is in regards to beer, wine, whiskey and pretty much anything else that fits this category. Learn more about craft beer, fine wine, whiskey, cigars, pipes and other vices. Experience more refined choices in these realms and feel your own refinement grow as a result. No one ever looked at a Mic Ultra drinker and thought, “There’s a guy that’s got his shit together.” The Dos Equis guy is an actor.
12. Travel more. You can’t see the world from your own neighborhood. Even if you think this is something you can’t afford, you can always take small weekend trips in a car. Hell, get outdoors and pitch a tent.
13. Hike. Or hike more if you hike already. Walking around in the wilderness is good for your stress and it gives a man time to think on things. Most of my great ideas have come while hiking or working out.
14. Work out. Yes, get off the couch, get out of your office chair and move a little bit. Any activity is better than no activity. If you feel like you are so out of shape that you can’t perform at the level you’d like to, take solace in the fact that you are lapping every guy sitting on his ass.
15. Play a sport. Shoot some hoops or better yet, round up some other menfolk and play some baseball, football, hockey, tennis, racquetball or soccer. Make this a routine. Add this to your workout regime. Besides, other men can help motivate you to get your ass out the door, as you can motivate them in the same way.
16. Know how to cook something great. It’d be best if you knew how to cook multiple things greatly but if you don’t, start somewhere. Every man should have a nice signature dish. Refine your culinary skills and thus, refine the taste buds of those around you. Be the man responsible for the pleasing look on your guests’ faces. Make motherfuckers salivate.
17. Learn gratitude and how to express it. Don’t take small things for granted.
18. Learn humility and how to laugh at yourself. Learn how to deal with male bantering and ribbing. No one likes the guy who is a spoiled sport or a crybaby. And definitely, don’t be a sore winner.
19. Stop talking about how “alpha” you are. If you have to tell everybody, then you aren’t “alpha” – you’re something else that starts with an “a”. Besides, all that “alpha” stuff is bullshit (see here).
20. Hold a door for a lady. Pay for dinner. It’s just what a man does, even if the woman doesn’t act too keen about it. And don’t expect anything in return.
21. Don’t be a chameleon. For example, don’t idolize some cool dude and then mimic his style. Also, don’t fake that you are into something that a person or group of people are into just so that you can fit in. You won’t fit in and you’ll look like an idiot. Be yourself, didn’t your parents teach you that?
22. Expanding on number twenty-one, stop lying about small insignificant stupid shit. In fact, if you are confident and have character, you don’t need to lie at all. You don’t want to be one of those idiots who says, “Oh yeah, I loved that movie!” And then in another conversation later with the same person say, “I really need to see that movie!” You forget about stupid lies but the people you lied to don’t forget. This person is just a weasel and not worthy of anyone’s time. At least, anyone who likes people they interact with to be genuine.
23. Be confident without being a narcissist. People respect confidence but they loathe an asshole that is high on their own bullshit. Through your journey of refinement, you should gain confidence – if you don’t have it already. Know what you want, know how to get it and be sure of your quest and who you are while on that quest.
24. Always expand your palate. Be it in things you orally consume, the entertainment you seek out or the adventures you go on. Human beings get bored doing the same thing all the time. Challenge yourself, accept new experiences and try things. Don’t be the human equivalent of a turkey sandwich at Subway.
25. Have a thirst for knowledge. Always be down to learn new things. Pick up a damn book and read it. Learn a new skill. Constantly challenge yourself, expand your horizons and continually evolve. Know that you are responsible for your own education in life. You are the cultivator of your own experiences. You are the sole cartographer of your own personal atlas. Your atlas is your life and everything that comes with it.