Once I was a wild man, and Old Man was in the wild man. One wild man, among others, who I looked up to was John Belushi … my high school days, on through early college years. A solid candidate for the quintessential wild man.
‘Few fellas, couple of years older,
inspired me during these years. They were definitely cool. I know they were definitely cool, because they told me so. They were, in fact, wild men. Women mysteriously gravitated toward them.
Because of John Belushi, because of these two guys who looked after me whenever they could, I was focused on, highly attentive to, being a wild man. In an uncharacteristically sober discussion following one of my stunts, standing up on a chair in a bar yelling “TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!”, one my friends told me: “You know, Bro, being a wild man is not always where its at.” As soon as I heard it; I blew it off. I knew … being a wild man was my calling. Funny how you can “know” something at one point in your life, confidence unshakeable, and then a few years later … what you thought you knew to be true was in fact a “non-truth”.
1986, March, I was at a bar down the street with a bunch of folks I worked with, on top of the world. I do remember walking out the door of the bar, homeward bound. At some point, I became aware of going backwards in my 1973 Dodge Charger, passenger side of the car bumping and screeching along the guard rail. I miraculously turned the car around and got my idiot self back to my apartment, eyes as big as tennis balls. I still tremble at what could have happened, and immeasurably thankful that no one died as a result of my neanderthal stupidity. Things were getting crazy, and less enjoyable. As a philosopher, by the name of B.B. King, once said, “The thrill is gone.” He didn’t just philosophize. B.B. King played some amazing music at the same time.
1987, fall, shortly before midnight, a profound change came in my thinking and in my life, from the unknown: unknown, at least initially. The unknown became the Known. It was a God-thing. Change for the better. Old things gradually dropped off. Old Man faded. And yet, Old Man kept coming to visit, even though he was unwelcome. He talked a lot. The Old Man still comes by, sometimes quite ramped up ready to start trouble. As Old Man started to fade, my wild man started to fade. It was tough. It was like … a loss. I grieved the loss of the wild man, while sitting in an unprecedented peace acknowledging that this wild man had to go. I had found a new calm. There were better decisions; still mistakes, but different kinds of mistakes, and … yeah … better decisions. The big thing, though, was my future. If and when I quit breathing, I would be in a good place, not a bad place.
Then, something strange emerged out of the fog, after a number of years. A wild man stirred in my soul, my heart, my mind. I was wary, as you can imagine. This was a different wild man. A wild man that stood apart from the old man. I was a bit confused, and I gradually realized that this was the wildness of God. Even though the old man and other thugs tried to gang up on guys like me, I decided I wasn’t going to be the enemy’s whipping-boy anymore.
I allowed for a redemptive imagination. I thought of Aragorn … who went up against the worst of the worst. A wild man. I stood with Moses, the bad guys coming for us on one side and the intimidating Red Sea on the other. A wild man. I walked swiftly behind Jesus in the temple watching him turn tables over disrupting the Pharisees. A wild man. I sat in the boat with the 12 guys that hung out with Jesus … there on Sea of Galilee, a mean storm on the verge of obliterating us when J-Man stood up and said “Hey! That’s enough of this craziness! Be still!” And the waves disappeared, the ocean was smooth like a glass, the wind was history. A wild man. I had a better understanding, now.
It made sense that men are called to be wild men … redemptive wild men to stand up for what is right, to stand up against the lies, and the mind-games, and the attacks from the spiritual realm (for those who allow that to be part of their theology). I think of courageous, passionate men, who are willing to fight for the death for what is right, like the “Three Amigos”. There are many wild men who have been a part of God’s fun … God shows His wildness through men. We see it all the time. I’m still trying to figure this out.