Have you ever seen the Camel cigarette advertisement? You know the one; where a ruggedly good looking and incalculably sexy adventurer drives his four by four through the jungles of the Amazon. The resourceful hunk pushes his vehicle, body and mind to the limits against the odds and he conquers every challenge with stubbly chinned style. When it's over he sits down and lights up a Camel cigarette. I used to hate that guy! That is the image of manhood society expects us to aspire to. I mean, who can compete with that when you're a shoe salesman or a plumber or, God forbid, a teacher like me? But as I've grown older I've begun to realize that the Camel man and we average Joes are actually not all that different. Sure, he may do it more spectacularly and look a whole lot better while battling the odds than some of us ever will, but we too have to get up every morning and push through our own personal Amazons. As men, we don't always know the way ahead but that shouldn't stop us from forging on anyway. Since when have we as men ever let something trivial, like a lack of direction, deter us? Think of all the times you drove around looking for a place and refused to look at the map. Men have an innate sense of adventure. It's up to us to carve a path through life for our families who come behind us. Sometimes, admittedly we do get lost, but isn't that half the fun in an adventure? In any case getting lost in the Amazon of life is not a failure but a temporary setback, a new challenge. As men, although we don't often verbalize it, we sometimes do feel lost and overwhelmed by life. When the bills come piling in, when pressure to make decisions mounts, when your resources are stretched between work and home, when your children seem just out of the reach of your control, when your partner's needs seem so difficult to meet, when you're faced with illicit sexual temptation, feeling lost in it all is perfectly natural. But we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it as we often do. We shouldn't hide it or worse still, hide from it, and pretend it's not happening. We shouldn't internalize the frustration and allow it to build slowly like a volcano inside of us till it spews forth in abusive rage. We shouldn't seek escape from the harsh realities of life through pornography, alcohol or gambling. Instead we should have the vision to recognize the enormity of the opportunity presented to us in that very place of "lostness" life has led us to. For in each place we feel lost in, we find the opportunity to finally be what we were created to be...men. It is in the place of "lostness" that the true positive nature of manhood can come to the fore. It is in that place of utter despair, frustration, pressure and temptation that we as men can, through our positive manly response, clearly define who we are. It is there that we can become the Camel man. It is when we take a look around and accept how huge the challenges are that face us, but then make a conscious decision that there is no way they are going to beat us. It is when we turn to our families and say, "I know the way ahead is rough and I certainly don't have all the answers but together we will find a way out of this, come follow me." It is when we force ourselves to step out of personal spheres of competency and do, not what we want to or like to, but what we have to. It is in these moments, as we are put through the furnace of life, that we discover the true positive nature of manhood emerging from within us. We can choose to move towards our wives in times of turmoil and not away from them. We can choose to move ahead into the darkness and uncertainty of our future and not barricade ourselves away emotionally in front of the television. We can choose to take the time to teach our children and build a relationship with them instead of substituting material gifts for what they really need, our presence and guidance in their lives. The positive nature of manhood will not rise up within us when things are going well. It will not emerge when our strengths are comfortably on display. It will happen when we have to dig deep and become what we have never been and do what we've never done because it is what life asks of us at that given moment. That is the most positive thing about being a man. Life puts us at the forefront of the onslaught and we are called to blaze a trail on behalf of our families. They look to us to lead them and lead them we must even when we're not sure of the directions. Wow! What a privilege and adventure manhood really is. I don't know who you are and what challenges you are facing, but I want you to know that you can rise to that challenge. You don't have to have it all together. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to pretend like nothing fazes you just to conform to societal norms. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and those who matter in your life. The truth is this life is something we work out as we go along so embrace life as an adventure. Make decisions that are in harmony with your personal values and goals. Don't live life according to a script someone else has written for you. Write your own script. Don't think yourself less because your occupation is not as glamorous as that of others. If you get up everyday and do something to provide for your family there is unfathomable dignity in that. If you're unemployed and battling, know that therein resides enough cause for self respect and that is the only kind of respect that really matters. I've been there in the unemployment lines. The fact is you have not given up. You're still trying. You're still fighting. You've been knocked down but you're not knocked out. That's what it means to be a man. We keep trying. We move ahead even if we're not completely certain of where we are going. We create a plan when there is no plan. That is the positive nature of manhood. There is a Camel man in every one of us and we each have a jungle to navigate. I salute you as brothers as we forge forward together as men and embrace this great adventure called life.