Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
This is a question for you this week. We are celebrating Memorial Day in the United States today. It is a day set aside to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. The holiday has me thinking of my grandpa. Although he did not die during his military service, he did pass years ago. This day of honoring others’ sacrifices has me thinking of those who have gone before me and others here still living lives of service.
Do you have someone whose life has changed yours?
My grandpa served in the Pacific theater during World War 2. He was a young 19-year-old kid in the Army and member of a unit that put the first boots on the ground in mainland Japan after the bombs dropped. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for him.
Like most soldiers, he never talked about it much. After his tour of duty was over he came back to his rural Minnesota farm and got on with life, milking cows and raising a family with ten children. It was years later when I first heard some of the stories from his experiences. I was too young to fully understand them and frankly too scared to ask more questions. The wisdom from him came in quiet, calm moments when he was ready to tell his grandsons more.
His personal history came in bits and pieces and you would have to be listening closely to hear the details. I didn’t know him well and I wish I did.
From the little I did know, he taught me…no, showed me the wisdom:
If you must walk through hell, just keep going. It is the only way out.
It’s not always in the words you say but in how you live and in the actions you take that speak the loudest.
And a cold beer and the Minnesota Twins playing a baseball game on a hot summer day is about as perfect an afternoon that a man can have.
Gratitude for the little things is what builds a joyful life.
My father did not end up serving in the military. He was a part of the draft during the Vietnam War. He passed all the physical tests and went into the local office to hear his number called and be chosen for service. He fully expected to leave for duty that day. The men on either side of him were called. He was not. He went home that afternoon having not been selected.
A few years later he was working in the front yard of a home he recently purchased in this new town for his young family (I wasn’t even a thought in his mind yet). That’s when the sirens on a small-town firetruck caught his attention.
The old pumper rig pulled up and stopped in front of the house. The driver yelled out the window, “Get in! Bring that shovel with you!” My father spent the next six hours battling a nearby grass fire. He dug fire-break trenches in the smoke and sun and helped put out the fire.
While giving him a ride back home the man driving the beat-up truck says to him, “Our next fire meeting is this Wednesday, I’ll see you there.”
He was now on the fire department. Trial by fire was never taken so literally.
My father has spent the last 48 years on the local volunteer fire department. He also served for 45 years on the emergency medical first response team. He was chief for 27 years and he is still a captain now. They won’t let him leave. He is going to be 70 years old this July and has no plans to stop. The men and women like having his wisdom around and I think he likes the camaraderie.
Why, after all this time, does he keep going to the meetings and running off to the emergencies? My mother complains about it every time he runs out the door. She has wanted him to quit for about as long as he has been a member.
Just recently he shared with me why he does it.
He told me this. Now I get it.
What I have tried to explain to her is that when my number didn’t get called that day in the draft, I knew I had to give back in some way. When my friends went to war and I didn’t, I had to find a way to be of service to others. I spent all this time trying to pay back for the “luck” I had way back then.
Wow! I was stunned. I never really understood the drive behind his decision. Built into his system is the need to serve others. To give back in whatever way possible.
I just relearned:
The world around you calls you into action to reveal your greatest gifts.
Listen for it.
(Sometimes it’s not as blunt as “Get in, you’re going to be a fireman now!”)
Men are driven by service, honor, and commitment. What is driving you now to get out of bed every day?
Even if your wife complains every…single…time you do something, follow your heart and spirit.
Stay true to who you are.
Thoughts From The Woodshop
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.