Men On The Run

np #PattiLabelle – Take The Night Off

For the past month, it has been in my schedule to spare 5 hours a week for no-one, and nothing, but myself. A time spent secluded in a realm of hushed conversations shared between my consciousness and this blue-skied world. Religiously reflective moments, when I let go of my inner-self, and let the world bathe me in the rarely acknowledged essence of its relentless stride towards eternity. Reflect on what? Well, nothing worth half a rhinestone really. Yet in the time that is, and that which was, the constant is that these hours never fully elapse without me getting the unruly urge to put my thoughts in writing. Like today…

In breaking news this morning, my thought-waves happen to have taken multiple detours during their unguided travels of the dust-filled alleyways inside my brain. It would seem, that after aimless wandering about and dipping of toeless feet into shallow pools of curiosity, they have finally found their way into ‘my mind’s mind’ – the brains behind all my silly wisdom, the holy grail of all my alphabetical nonsense, the Taj Mahal of my disturbed creativity, and the Central-Kenya of my money-making spirit (one love Central-Kenya[ns]). Yet here I sit, both quiet and motionless. Neither squirming in my bed nor feeling any pressure to go ‘crai_zay’ because of how bad things may turn out. I trust my thoughts, and respect the need for them to want validation as to where all their juice comes from. So in that light, I’ll jot down, in entirety, exactly what is passed on to my frontal lobe throughout this experience.

Only recently did I get to watch the first episode of Mad Men’s sixth season. It was, in true fashion, nothing of what I had expected. Blows to the chest and (repeated) bangs to the head are what I had to endure, as the entire length of the episode danced around the width of my computer’s screen. In all these, it came to me that everything in that episode seemed to have a deeper connotation apart from that which was implied on the surface. For instance: “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety,” said Dr. Arnold Rosen, just as the entire run was about to end. As far as this statement’s truth is concerned, there is still so much more revealed (to me) than the mere context of ‘people’ at large. Hence my reason for spending this week’s five hours embarking on a short trip into the minds of men.

In a world of successes and failures, it should be noted that women deal better with failure than men do. Whereas men, the ever-driven to success species, look at failure from a (near-constant, brain-damaging) mental perspective, women look at it from an emotional angle, where some tears and boxes of tissue paper are almost sure to do the magic, no matter how bad the situation is. So allow me to air dry my reasons behind this notion, of men and failure, for you.

Case A: Charles, a promising banker with an illustrious portfolio, is seated in his black Toyota Allion as he heads off to work one wet, and grey-clouded, Monday morning. The journey to the office is nothing short of drama, something most men are never able to deal with, and as a constant rule, there was traffic throughout his journey across Nairobi, loads of it. Having spent nearly two hours getting from Valley Arcade to his workplace along Mombasa Road, he arrives slightly late, some twenty eight minutes past the official arrival time. He curses at the skies, venting out at how the earth is right rolly taking a piss on his enthusiasm for the week. Yet in spite of this unappetizing start to the day, things are about to take a darker tinge of grey for one successful Charles.

You see, most men are blinded by this thing called success. It’s like a cloak that we wear every time things seem to look up and the world takes on the colours of the Vegas nights. We feel invisible when kisses from Lady Luck are all we wake up to. We are, by all intents and purposes, slaves to success. Whether it be by circumstance or by design, I dare not discuss. But two questions beg address, not today, or soon – but someday: Are we still men when not successful? If we aren’t, then what are we?

Back to Charles: He approaches his office only to see three human frames inside his glass-walled corner office. Two are male, and by the looks of it, one is female. His mind double-checks on any appointments he might have overlooked, or any meetings he might be late for. Nothing registers. So he slowly opens the door and enters a room bubbling with the unknown. Forty-five minutes later, exit Charles, and in flies a heavily dejected human soul. Eyes stuck in a time long gone and forgotten, with a face that seems worn by the hands of time, he drags his forlorn state out of the building and into his car. Where he goes on to spend an eternity mulling over how it is that he got to this point, what went wrong, at what point, and whether there’s anywhere to go from here. His world seems to be crushing, with the storms closing in fast. We last get a glimpse of him as he unbuttons his coat and rests his head on the steering wheel. Time of snapshot: 0934 HRS, GMT+3.

In the darkness of night, O2OO HRS, Mrs. Charles receives a phone-call from a number she doesn’t know. It has an ominous ring to it, different from any of the calls she would receive during normal hours, like the caller is about to spell doom on her life. The caller’s message is that her husband is beyond his liquor and needs to be picked up. As faithful, caring and dutiful a wife as she is, she gets out of bed and dresses in the first thing she can get her recently manicured hands on. She immediately calls her brother, who lives in the nearby Oasis Apartments, Mbaazi Drive, asking him to pick her up and drive her to the CBD to pick up her drunk matrimonial partner.

Charles is found passed out on a sofa at Tribeka’s ground floor. Seated next to him is the club’s manager, who personally saw to it that the man now sleeping next to him would get home in one piece. Having declined to let the man drive out on his own, he had the bouncers seat his induced existence in a corner, where he asked this man, this promising banker with an illustrious portfolio, for his wife’s number. Seemingly, that was the last clearly audible thing he was able to utter before taking a trip to the other side of the froth. After all parties share their thoughts and their stories, none the wiser as to what took this man to the brinks of public shame, brother and sister take the man into their custody. The trio is then seen walking out of the club with an unconscious man, held up by his arms between them, doing something close to the moon walk before being dumped in the backseat of a midnight blue Nissan Navara. Time of snapshot: 0246 HRS.

What this is, is a classic case of a man dealing with his darkest fears the best way he knows how. Fears that revolve around his weaknesses and deepest insecurities. Moments when life pounds at you with all that it possibly can, and turns those Vegas lights that previously adorned your ego into even brighter beams of despair. When your own name is the only thing left between yourself and poverty. Times when hopelessness becomes your best friend. Why this grim description? This is because of the fact that when a man loses everything he has, is broke, or doesn’t have a clue about how he’ll provide for himself or his family – life makes no sense to him, no sense at all.

Because the reality is that the core of most men’s happiness is tied to their ability to provide themselves, and their loved ones, with a livelihood. Contrary to popular belief, first thought lies not with their girlfriends, wives or children, but in the very existence of some financial means at their disposal. Very few, and I can boldly shout that to the world, can claim to be content with their lack of money, or stable income. Unlike the love-sick chap, ‘Marius’, in the musical Les Misérables, wailing his heart out at how much the love for the beautiful ‘Cosette’ was the only thing that would give him happiness, delight in life for most of us, men, only happens when our pockets have a little something between them.

All in all, the reality is this; most men have no clue about how to deal with either loss, or failure. We don’t seem to be the strongest of cats in the darkest of times. As men, the experience of getting absolutely rumbled when trying our arm at making a life for ourselves is enough to take any of us over the edge. The thought of ‘I have nothing left’ is a catalyst for self-destruction which most men take ever so willingly. Hence the reason why men in despair seem to be the single-most dedicated patrons at any and every bar you will ever walk into. Whether it be a financial crisis, marital problems, loss of a job, a bust relationship, divorce, or any other sort of life-problem, indulgence in the vices of the world seems to be our only remedy to irresolvable issues. Very few are able to hold onto the railings of hope for a better day and allow life to hit and just keep on hitting; or sit back and leave resolution of our weakest moments to The Almighty.

Why else would men run away from their pregnant girlfriends, leaving single mothers to raise their kids – kids it took two to make? Or fathers stay out till late hours of the night when they know they haven’t a cent in their wallets, and didn’t leave their families with any food? Even Cain tried to run away from his guilt, but it wasn’t that easy for him because God was on his case. I feel that all this escape from reality is because we always have and might always be men on the run, running from our anxieties and our problems. Hoping the escape remedies the hopelessness, praying that our absence cures the despair. Wishing we could undo whatever it is that took us to that point of despondency, or maybe even done things in a different way. Very few coming up with solutions to better their situations…

Through and through my deliberations on this matter, no moral reasoning could give my thoughts rest, nor give me reason to believe there is hope for change in every single man out there. Given that it would also be quite pointless for me to back my fellow men in this flight or flight take on reality, I thus make my bold claim in saying that: “Men will run from anything to alleviate their anxieties.”

np #MarvinGaye – You’re The Man (Alternate Version 1)

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