Such sage advice from 1970’s southern-rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd is found in this song (also performed as an acoustic version by Shinedown). I can almost imagine a mother pulling her young son onto her lap and telling him these words in hopes of him finding a satisfied and contented life. Simple advice for a simple life.
Yet, many men I work with have internalized very different messages. These messages came to them either overtly– actually told to them– or were internalized from hyper-competitive schools, peers, and/or society standards until these very complex standards and beliefs became their own standards and beliefs. These messages seem to work until, one day, being a simple kind of man sounds appealing (usually once a measure of achievement or success has been obtained and the feeling of “happiness” that was implied would come hand-in-hand with this achievement isn’t felt, leaving the achiever very confused and often lonely).
Below are the lyrics from parts of the song along with the imagined conversation this mother and child might have had.
Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
Please don’t rush through life, it isn’t a race to a particular destination. Don’t do everything now as it leaves nothing to look forward to later. Slow down, enjoy the journey.
Troubles will come to you but they will pass! Tend to the trouble, figure out your role in the trouble, rectify what you can, learn from your mistakes. Apologize. Let trouble pass. Do not hold onto hurt feelings and anger, let these feelings pass. Good times will come, too. Enjoy them! They also will pass. Life isn’t all good or all bad, all easy or all hard, all work or all play, life is a mixture of these things and the things you give the most attention to will become the main ingredients in the mix.
And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
A simple kind of man– a humble, courageous, unassuming person who doesn’t thrive on chaos and drama. A person who doesn’t have to hustle for your worth because your worth is not hung on the opinions of others but rests in a deep abiding sense of who you are. An authentic man who knows your value and doesn’t feel compelled to make other people understand your value. A man who realizes all men have value.
And, to be something you love and understand! Know your values and live those values. When your life and actions are in-line with the values you hold most dear, you will find value in yourself. Know your needs and let people help meet those needs. Understand that you are just like everyone else– you need love and admiration and affection. You are worthy of those things. And you need to give those things to others.
Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
You will want the material possessions that you see others acquiring– they will appear happy with their “stuff.” They aren’t. Stuff doesn’t create happiness. Relationships create happiness. Experiences create happiness. Adventure creates happiness. Living your values creates happiness. Lust for gold creates a black hole that can never be filled.
Pay attention to your soul. It is the part of you that whispers to you and you might not hear it if you aren’t listening. This is the essence of who you are and is very different than the resume version of who you are.
Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied