I walk Duke for miles, getting out away from traffic and housing, into the countryside as far as I can. I like the relative quiet of nature, it’s where I go to figure things out.
A lot of people define themselves by what they’re opposed to. I watch with equanimity at the arguments and provocations online, glad that I am no longer embroiled in it.
I used to be, mistaking outrage and anger for achievement and activism. I let go of it about a year ago, because the writing felt more authentic, more of a purpose that I could reinvent myself around.
I enjoy being a man. I’ve dealt with the wounds that I’ve suffered, accepted the drives and appetites that I used to struggle against and I revel in certain parts of it. Walking my dog is one of them.
I like to lift heavy weights, the struggle, the burning sensation of lactic acid in my muscles, the solidity of me and the strength that I carry. Even my voice sounds different, gruffer and deeper after I’ve lifted.
I could talk about the patriarchy, but I won’t. I won’t sell out my fellow men to gain favour with women, because we’re all individuals with varying degrees of damage and trauma. We survive but we don’t do so unscathed. I accept the things that have happened and forgiven the injuries I’ve done, and asked forgiveness for what I have done.
I don’t apologise for who I am, only what I’ve done. I didn’t choose to be white or heterosexual, so I won’t choose to conduct the grief and pain of others that manifests into a strain of activism. I listen to the experiences of others and show them compassion but I don’t demonise anyone for who they are, but what they do.
I think about how the trees look like the veins or nerves of living things, how the seasons change each visit here and the realisation that at 11/12, Duke won’t be here for much longer. A dog’s love is eternal if you show it basic affection and we go far and wide.
So, when you ask a man who has walked a dog what he did and he says ‘nothing’ smile in understanding that he’s conquered worlds in his head.