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Good is Good #1: "It Begins"

Good is Good #1: "It Begins"

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Publicado porTom Matlack
My column will be intended as a conversation starter, not the final word. As I have often said, I am not good enough to tell you how to be good. So I hope that you will join the conversation by telling me how I got it right or wrong each week.
My column will be intended as a conversation starter, not the final word. As I have often said, I am not good enough to tell you how to be good. So I hope that you will join the conversation by telling me how I got it right or wrong each week.

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Published by: Tom Matlack on Jun 03, 2010
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09/11/2012

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by Tom Matlack

It
/246;@
IT’S HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE
that it was just eighteen months ago that I sat at the
little café a block from my oce with my former
venture partner, James Houghton, as he gingerly
approached the topic of my memoir—the one for
which I had been obsessively sending him drafts
for months. He assured me that my honesty moved
him, even to the point of motivating him to write,
too. But he had a dierent, bigger idea than just
writing down my story of crash and redemption as
a man, father, and husband. His idea was to create
a project where men—black, white, rich, poor, gay,
straight, the guy in Iraq, the guy losing his job in
Detroit, the stay-at-home dad, and the NFL hall of
famer—could tell their stories.
James had in mind a simple little book.
Unfortunately, where he is humble and understated
(perhaps by virtue of having grown up in a famous
family about which the press often got the story
wrong), I am drawn to grandeur and a desire to find
the truly heroic among us mere mortals. Where
James was the spiritual leader who actually had
the idea, I quickly became the used car salesman of
the operation, pushing constantly forward in what
quickly became a call to revolution, man style.
What inspired me to believe that our little project
could be something far bigger than we had initially
thought wasn’t the media obsession with Tiger
Woods’ sex addiction—though that was a sure sign
that something was wrong in Guydom. It wasn’t
going into Sing Sing, or communicating with NYT
photojournalist Michael Kamber on the battlefield
in Iraq, or showing our film in Hollywood.
No. It was the growing realization that my trite
little line, “Every man has a story,” was in fact much
truer than I could ever have imagined. Wherever
I went, men took me aside to tell me some little
piece of their story. Often it wasn’t what had gone
wrong but what had gone right—the men who
had changed their lives, or the women with whom
they had fallen in love and married. But often what
I heard was a growing sense of confusion, an o-
the-record admission that, as men, we have no idea
what is important anymore. We want to do the
right thing, but the expectation of us at home and
at work has turned things upside down. And all too
many boys grow up without fathers, learning what
it means to be a man on the streets, and way too
often ending up in prison.
Listening to other men tell their truth is the only
thing that allowed me to get my ass out of the gutter
and become a decent man, father, and husband. The
men whom I have met during the Project have each
inspired me to grow in a dierent way. They are my
heroes. What we all need as men isn’t more silent
suering; it’s the willingness to tell and listen to
the truth of our lives.
Each week in this space, I’ll explore a topic that
came up as I traveled the country talking about
manhood: stay-at-home dads, post-traumatic stress
among our veterans, pornography, fatherless boys,
imprisoned men, emotional infidelity, gay fathers,
sports, male violence, pedophilia, faith in the most
general sense, 21st century boys, and what it means
to be a good son, to name just a few.
Mine will be a weekly post that is just one part of the
newly launched online magazine that collectively
we hope will become the destination for men, boys,
and the women who love them, to talk about what
it means to be male in the 21st century.
My column will be a conversation starter, not
the final word. As I have often said, I am not good
enough to tell you how to be good. So I hope that
you will join the conversation by telling me how I
got it right or wrong each week.
In addition, each week I will pose a “Man Mail”
question that I hope to explore in a future column.
Please don’t use the comment section to respond to
the question (that’s reserved for responses to the
current column itself) but email me at manmail@
goodmenbook.org. The more brutally honest you
can be, the better.
The frst question is,
"What two words describe your dad, and why?¨
Finally, a word on “Good is Good” itself. When I
moved away from doing deals and started spending
my time trying to write, I found myself doing a lot
of magazine profiles of musicians, scientists, and
athletes—generally guys who I just thought were
cool and wanted to hang out with. My most recent
piece is about a remarkable rowing coach, Charley
Butt, who has led his lightweight men to seven
national titles while also coaching perhaps the best
female single sculler in American history to a silver
medal at the Olympics. When I asked Charley how
he shifted gears from college-aged men to world-
class women, often in the same day of coaching,
he looked me straight in the eyes and made clear
that there was absolutely no adjustment necessary.
“Good is good,” he said.
Real Stories from the Front
Lines of Modern Manhood Facebook Huffngton Post
Good Men Magazine

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