“Manliness” Guest Blogger: Will Lee

I wanted to write about manliness. What it is and how we define it. Share some of my thoughts that I’ve been thinking on it the past several months. What came to mind is this which is not directly related in the way that a typical exploration might be.This is an account of a recent encounter with my own manliness among other things.

This past weekend I started my Dad’s chainsaw. This is significant for several reasons. 1st, I love chainsaws, 2nd, my Dad passed away little over a year ago, and 3rd, I hadn’t started it since then and usually prior to then he would start it and then pass it to me when we were working together. It’s a several year old gas powered Husqvarna. This means that to start it you have to pull the ripcord in a somewhat violent manner to produce enough force to turn the engine over. Swear words are encouraged. Usually, I lacked enough “oomph” in my Dad’s words to start it. The chainsaw is one of the things that I feel like my dad shared with me more so than with my brother. We both know how to use it safely and maintain it, but perhaps because I was older and learned it first it became more of my thing? Either way it’s something that is a big reminder of my Dad for me.

In this instance, I had to limb up one of the crabapple trees along our driveway to allow a dump truck to get past. Because we were working with a short time before the truck was slated to arrive, I used a handsaw because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to start the chainsaw. In the process, I cut a large limb further from the trunk than would be healthy because the tree’s anatomy prevented the saw from getting in close enough. So I came back later with the chainsaw. It wouldn’t start. The second time that I went through the steps to start it, it took 4 pulls before it roared to life.

My dad usually did it in one or two. That didn’t really matter though. I was happy to have done it all on my own, no help, nothing. In a way I had measured up, I had proved my manliness, even though I still have room to improve. The chainsaw felt powerful and at once familiar. Like a piece of anxiety had melted away. A test had been passed. I was able cover that part of what my dad had done. At some level, I hadn’t failed. It sounds silly, but it’s true. Turning the chainsaw off was momentarily worrying because of the possibility that I might not get it to start again.

It’s funny how so much can be tied to so little. The simple act of starting a chainsaw has implications on manliness, the grief process, and a sense of self-worth. An act that really only has personal significance. So, thank you for reading this ego-centric post and I hope that you continue to read the posts from our guest blogger next month!

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