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What are you going to do this winter?

October 30, 2020

Winter is coming. The question was asked what is my plan or perspective about this winter? This came up during the biweekly meeting that I have been attending for the last 30+ years. We have a name for this group, The Magnificent 7. It was formed after the core members attended a Men, Sex and Power weekend workshop. We attended all those years ago on the promise of finding out how to be the men we always wanted to be. Most of us were in our late 20’s or early 30’s. Wide-eyed with possibilities and full of bravado. We learned most guys have three dimensions which were described as the following architypes: Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry, Ghandi, and Curly of the Three Stooges.

These are but characteristics or mindsets we have available to us and the challenge could be to determine in what way to have these frame our way of interacting with others and ourselves.

There are other models about personalities and personas. We could use Myers-Briggs, Enneagrams, and several other personality mapping tools to learn who we are. Maybe instead of the Dirty Harry/Ghandi/Curly model we prefer the INTJ moniker or a type 9 with wings of 7 and 3. Others will look toward the metaphysical realm for feedback on who I am. Tarrot cards, Astrological readings, or channeling could bring forward details that help us to know who we are. Give us answers. The proposal is if I know what type, or sign, or personality I am I would know then how I will deal with Winter. Someone would be able to tell me what would be the right thing for me to do.

What I have learned over the years meeting with the rest of the Magnificent 7 is the answer I was seeking was to the wrong question. What I saw as we were all presented with very similar information in that initial weekend along with the range of ideas and rules we shared over the years as to what being a man really meant; we started as individuals and today we are a group of seven individuals. There are few universal characteristics beyond the Y chromosome. We may have fewer sharp edges or abrasive surfaces that existed in our younger selves. Today I like to think We are articulate, for the most part, about our feelings and empathetic toward others.

So what part of who I am today would have been revealed as a result of the weathering that comes with age versus my conscious effort to explore the question “what is the man I always wanted to be?” How much is the result of the alchemy of this particular cadre of men who have been willing to commit to each other and attend meetings every two weeks?

It was within this group of men who were asking the question about the coming winter with the prospect of fewer convenient and possibly safe places to gather as if there were to be a singular approach. It was not about our strategy for meeting alone that we were considering. On that front we have resolved to meet in a car port and are strategizing how we will deal with the dropping temperatures. For we yearn for and value the physical presence of the others both in the group as well as socially in our different communities.

What is the question that fits your answer?

I realized the starting point is to accept the answer for what I will do this winter starts and will end with what I choose. It is on me to gather the information, consider the analyses, and weigh the risks versus the rewards. But how? We all had the opportunity in school to acquire the tools for making a decision. Cost Benefit analyses were common. It was implied the choice would be self-evident based upon the number of items in the benefit column as compared to the costs. An objective result would be found. But who determines if something is beneficial? In this empirical tool we apply judgement which introduces perspective. Of course taking into consideration someone else’s valuation of a piece of art, their judgement about the risk of an investment, or the emotional return of being with my kids at Thanksgiving is to be balanced against similar judgments on the other side of the ledger.

Every choice and decision we get to use someone’s perspective, our own, or a combination. Even that doesn’t answer how do I know what is the right thing to do? For a life of sustained happiness, it comes down to noticing how I respond to the alternatives? Does one give me energy while the alternative feels more burdensome? This is a whole body evaluation, not just in my mind. This is the heart of what is needed in order to live the life that I love.

What does this have to do with the initial question about what will I do this winter? I start with asking this very question. What I experience is quite a bit of fatigue because I can’t envision anything given my current circumstances that will work for the entire winter. However, I can think of things I want to do this weekend. Like a marathon runner, if I focus on this part of the race, I won’t have to worry about what I will need to do in the other 25 miles. I will deal with next weekend next week. I might even craft a plan for a trip in the middle of winter where I will drive to some warmer place. I will play with those questions in which I can feel a lift in my spirits. I will break down the winter into manageable chunks and deal with the future when I get there. This is how I will deal with this particular winter. How about you? What are you going to do this winter?