Joe Average ‘Can’t Get Out!’

Each working day I walk the couple of miles between my home and the charity for which I work in the centre ofHalifax. This included last Monday when, thanks to a fall of snow, the walk was more of a trudge.

During the remainder

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of the day I learned from various sources that ‘this guy/that guy’ hadn’t turned up for work because he ‘couldn’t get out!’

‘Out of what?’ I mused. His house? His bed? His marriage? His despair at the futility of his purposeless life? It was the typical Joe Average excuse whenever some inconvenience raises its head.

(A few weeks previously when addressing a group of young teenagers who claimed they’d been ‘inconvenienced’, I explained that inconvenience was a part of Life. Almost every funeral I’ve ever attended was an inconvenience, I told ‘em.)

What I found most depressing about these Joe Averages who ‘couldn’t get out’, was how quickly and without any sense of guilt, they were willing to become victims.

When I raised this with one of my colleagues he said my judgement was harsh. I told him he was wrong; in my opinion it was only a light snowfall, the first of the winter.

He said my assessment was typical of a county boy (which I am) … though actually his words were ‘county bumpkin’ … and then he quoted some inches that were expected which he’d learned from the Met Office, and organisation akin to our Foreign Office, both of which are inherently cautious.

I dismissed this pathetic attempt to use bureaucratic prognostications of quantity as a satisfactory benchmark when

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what was being discussed was actually an issue of personal Determination. And afterall, as I pointed out, we live in West Yorkshire, the Pennines being one of the highest areas inEngland.

That was Monday. Tuesday lunchtime the Sun began to shine and those who on Monday ‘couldn’t get out’ were (probably) all in Tesco buying candles and stocking up on Coco Pops.

Ironically, in the United States Monday was a Public Holiday to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jnr. I made it a point to take a looksee of the WMD Guide where, in the section ‘When Things Get Rough’, I read….

‘As Martin Luther King Jnr. observed: the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’.

Time for a Review

I think as guys, we’re pre-disposed to ‘get our heads down and get on with the job’. This doesn’t just apply to work, in fact it probably applies less to work than it does to Life.

By that I mean that we are so busy trying to get ‘somewhere’ that we don’t actually stop, take a breath, and work out whether we are on the right road, or if in fact we even want to still go to that place.

For women, reviewing comes naturally; it’s part of sharing. They discuss, reflect and plan. For us, it doesn’t come so naturally. At WMD, we believe that for guys, a review can only really be done on your own. It’s not that an opinion from a mate isn’t great; it’s just that, like with a restaurant you can forget the five star reviews, it’s really only what you think that counts – they’re your taste-buds and your standards.

Because of the endless distractions that surround us it takes discipline and determination to make the time to tune-in to yourself; the deeper sensing parts and your gut feelings. We’re not saying this is a daily thing, or weekly or monthly, but as with any journey, if you don’t look up every now and again, you may find yourself in Bristol, when in fact you wanted to go to Bradford.

We think a lot of mid-life crises and miserable marriages could be avoided if guys took the time to check-in with their internal compasses more. So getting in-tune with it now, will help you make the big decisions on the horizon and then weigh-up

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whether they work for you.

My big reviews usually take place when I’m on long journeys. I don’t love traveling by plane, but it has its perks. For me, I find that the combination of raised anxiety, altitude and lack of distraction (I often travel alone), create a deeper focus than I experience day-to-day. So whenever I fly, I take this as my cue to check-in with myself.

The focus I achieve, helps my gut feelings reach my mind with a new-found clarity. My latest journey has been more revelationary than usual, perhaps because it was timed with the arrival of the New Year; a natural time to review and re-focus ourselves.

With space, time and focus (and, for me at lest, an

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added unsettling factor of being out of your comfort zone) deeper thoughts and feelings can wriggle their way to the surface. These could confirm that as things stand, you feel deep-down that you’re on the right road. Equally though, they may reveal that you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way (or maybe you took the train, when a taxi would have been better).

My latest delve into the abyss revealed a bit of both. For now, while I think I’m on the right road, the destination isn’t crystal clear. And I’m okay with that.

The Dangerous World of Appearance

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colleagues and I at WMD have been discussing an article in the recent edition of the CALMzine.

Two recently retired rugby players were talking about the depressions and anxieties that all too often affect rugby players. They’re particularly severe when a member of the team begins to consider retirement.

The problems are serious in both Union and League rugby because the image of those involved are of tough young guys who are more than capable of being able to handle any ‘problem’ that may enter their lives.

But it is the image of the physicality of the ‘man of steel’ that most effectively masks any signs of weakness; the truth is that what we see is merely Appearance.

In the WMD Guide we claim that an oak tree is the result of an Acorn with Balls.

Okay; Balls are important – vital even.

But what’s easily overlooked is what the Acorn represents – that future Reality springs from the seed with which you were born.

Such ‘toughness’ that we claim to perceive in the rugby players is essentially Appearance. The real nature of his ‘toughness’ is within; it’s inherent in his basic make-up which he’s had the courage to take on to the sports field.

What becomes very apparent is that when he approaches any separation from his team-mates the visible ‘toughness’ acts as

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a mirage to Reality; the lad becomes a victim of Appearance.

This, we believe, is an increasing phenomenon which can only get worse unless we remember the Acorn and the truth it represents which we’re increasingly inclined to forget.

It Takes Balls To Be Happy

The happiest of my Friends all have something in common.

It’s not that they all earn shed loads of cash.

Neither are all of their aims altruistic.

It’s nothing to do with shagging scores of beautiful people (although that’s a sure fire way to start the day right,

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as Kellogg’s would say).

Nor do they live a life of permanent vacation, free from responsibility.

In fact, it’s the opposite. The thing that all of these guys have in common is that they have each taken complete responsibility for their life.

They are masters of their own destiny.

Some are photographers, others writers and actors.

There are craftsmen, gardeners and restaurateurs, too.

They have all stepped away from the cozy bosom of secure jobs and taken the jump to being independent.

Some never had to make the jump, of course, as they knew from an early age what they wanted to do and never compromised or waivered from their path. They have always done it their way.

Others gradually chipped away it. They went from working five days a week for someone else and the weekends for themselves, to four days, then three, two, one…

These are the guys I admire and respect most.

They’ve carved lives that work for them; be it in terms of purpose, or the hours they choose to work.

It hasn’t come easy. Far from it, most have sacrificed time and earning potential to do it their way. They’ve invested everything over the years, but have been rewarded as, like I said at the beginning, they are the happiest guys I know.

Although thoroughly different types of Men, they do share similar attitudes. Over the years, I’d say all have them have said something along the lines of:

‘I can’t stand dedicating my time and energy to someone else’s cause’


‘I was fed up of compromising’

Now, free from the standards and purpose set by others, they are pursuing their destiny their way.

Sure, from time-to-time they have to compromise a little to pay a bill here or there but they seem to be able to live with that.

Sometimes I get really envious of them. The fact that they actually know what they want and have gone and got it, while I’m struggling to even work out what the hell it is I want, never mind actually going out and getting it.

I work in a job that I enjoy but I wouldn’t say that it is fulfilling my purpose … although to be honest I’m still working out what my purpose even is. What I hope is that, when I do get a firmer idea in my gut, I have the Balls to follow the example of my friends – the happiest, most fulfilled guys I’ve ever met.


What Men Do had a piece published in the latest CALMzine. We’re very happy to be in bed with them.

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Have a read here:

My New Year Wish

I’ve only one wish for the New Year. I just want to be able to fart. Fart with confidence, I mean.

I’ve got a hernia, fellas, and when it’s playing up its excruciating. And practically, it’s like one of those women who’ve got

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it all wrong; it’s a tease.

Experience over the last four months (since the blighter got out of hand) is that you’re stuck with a relentless pressure to fart. You just know that a good fart would solve all your troubles.

But, maybe it isn’t just a fart. Maybe there’s something else, something solid in the pipeline, playing the role of Plug. It’s a plug under pressure, somewhere in the guts.

There’s also the issue of taking a piss – not actually taking it, you understand, but trying to anticipate that what you’ve got on offer is Noah’s flood rather than a Peter Pan trickle.

For years and years I’ve farted with the best of ‘em and never thought anything about it. it’s been one of those human activities that must have been a natural activity when we were still in the trees as Homo Erectus. Come to think of it, it was probably easier to handle when you were climbing up and down trees searching for the next meal or alternatively trying to hide out from some nasty fucker that had you in mind for his next meal.

I swear if I can get the medics to settle my groin problem I’ll never resent anybody farting in my face ever again.

Not ever.

And a Happy New Year to you.