The idea of the man cave (or mantuary) has long been revered and even been held sacred as an enduring, final bastion of manhood and masculinity.
We no longer speak in grunts. Well, many of us don’t. We have expanded both our recognition and expression of sentiments beyond the limits that Hermione Granger in ‘Harry Potter & The Order of the Pheonix’ chastises Ron Weasley about. Namely being ‘the emotional range of a teaspoon.’
We’ve had to. We live in a world of constant (now exceptionally rapid, sometimes confusing) evolution.
In the 70,000 years that have passed since we ventured from what Yuval Noah Harrari refers to, in his best seller ‘Sapiens’, as a ‘quiet corner of Africa’ we’ve made a marvelous male team effort of upgrading ourselves.
Along this journey of masculine metamorphosis we’ve frequently been inspired, nudged or pointed in a better direction by our wonderful female counterparts.
Who, it must be said, seem to have an uncanny knack of making such evolutionary transitions sooner than us. We love them more for it.
It’s just sometimes those hard wirings from being the alpha hunter niggles just a tad and we don’t always wish to acknowledge as much or tell them so.
In fact, it’s one reason why the mancave has stood both the test of time and transformation.
Given it’s the solitary space some men have learned to slink to when they know for sure, or just plain fear, their actions might otherwise insult, upset or annoy wiser sensibilities associated with the divine feminine.
There are even historical periods capturing elements of this transformation. The ‘Renaissance Man’ for example (relating to a period circa 1400 – 1600) acquired an appreciation of many aspects of life aside from, say, merely war, farming and fornication!
We learnt to appreciate the arts and the term ‘polymath’ (from Greek origins meaning ‘having learned much’) became synonymous with having healthy broad pursuits, hobbies and interests. Developing a thirst for expanded fields of knowledge with which to feed our souls.
The ‘Enlightened Man’, during the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ (circa 17th to 19th centuries) encouraged us to further fuel our intellectual capabilities. In addition planting seeds of evidence of the senses, a respect for individual liberty, several steps towards science and baby steps towards the idea of acceptance and tolerance. Well, certainly with regards to religion at least. We might have lifted the pace somewhat yet we still have some ways to go.
Along our trek, from hunters and farmers to the digital age man, we’ve made marvelous headway and effort to eliminate even more of those outdated ideas from bygone days of what masculinity is.
Some of which are, let’s be frank, associated more with mysogony and being a general menace to society.
Yet amidst our transformation to become enlightened, respectful, collaborative members of the community the idea of the man cave remains stalwart.
The only difference is that the cave has always been a location, place or room in the house, one chose to slink off to on their own merit. Not because of government orders or being mindful of community spirit in order to assist with social distancing.
For some men this is a massive adjustment. In the spirit of our continued evolution, let’s not keep it locked in. Let’s talk honestly and open about it.
There are inherent dangers all men must be mindful of during this period that, for the sake of continued historical evolutionary purposes, we shall refer to as ‘The Isolated Man’.
In normal times (you know, days where toilet rolls are easy to procure and hardware stores don’t have ‘X’ marks the spot floor stickers) the Isolated Man gladly elects voluntary man cave periods of isolation.
This might well be the result of enlightened self-reflection or even male intuition (it’s no myth, it does exist) so as not to disrupt their partner or family.
Or, equally, sometimes just because they can in order to spend essential short periods bonding with his band of brothers.
This may even include participating in certain activities that might otherwise still be viewed as socially taboo.
It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve witnessed any sort of impromptu wind passing competitions in public places. Although myths abound such farting competitions are still around, albeit a little more underground these days.
Other activities that consume ones time in the man cave might be fine for short spurts, yet it’s essential to show caution gents in order we don’t collectively regress!
Being stuck in isolation the fridge is closer to hand. This might include the beer fridge. Now is no time to throw care to wind and binge more than one otherwise might. Boozing as a way of coping, bad enough at the best of times, will, on the other side of this, send your character back to the dark ages.
A little more harmless might be gaming. For some this pastime is perhaps a more seductive temptress. Having the luxury to grasp ones joy stick to whittle away social distancing hours may, at first, seem quite appealing. What a terrible waste it will be.
It is our team effort, remember, towards continued education, reading, learning and personal growth, that has set us on a better trajectory.
Rather than diving into dungeons and dragons, playing non-existent world cup competitions or adopting a virtual, caped, muscled or tatooed avatar that blows stuff up, pause before to play!
Don’t let the short-term dopamine rush fool you. Despite breaking records, constantly topping new scores or unlocking new levels these translate to nothing real worldly that really matters.
The same is true for binging on social media, joining viral isolation challenges or learning, line-by-line, entire seasons on Netflix. Unless your an impersonator your skills are unlikely to be stretched so much.
There’s only so many push-ups or live streaming home workout routines that adds value to the world.
It is important for sure to remain socially connected. Consider this is a great time to figure out who those close relationships, the protectors and nurturers of your hopes and dreams may be, rather than wasting time worrying whether a bunch of random strangers care which filter you use or if you struck the right pose.
You’ll be a far greater hero to the world coming out of isolation if you consciously choose to reinvest any nervous energy, fidgety periods of boredom or moments of ‘screw it, this sucks’ into skills that enhance your character and serve you for life.
For many years this last bastion of masculinity has fallen to some level of mockery as another outdated idea of manliness turned bad.
Well, perhaps the character of ‘The Isolated Man’ re emerging into society on the other side of social distancing might serve to highlight that spaces or venues associated for the purpose of masculine hibernation and recuperation might well serve humanity a good deed.
Whatever you do during this period in history perhaps remember the words of a wise, fun man. A recognised genius.
Make smarter choices and invest your time sapiently. To do so means you might re emerge from social distancing a more inspired, indeed inspiring, version of yourself.
For the isolated man perhaps remember what Albert Einstein said ‘try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.’