My adolescence and teenage years intersected with one of the best times to be alive for epic music… the 1980s!
One of my favorite bands back then, and still among my favorites today, is Rush.
I still can’t fathom how a three-piece band could play such tight, skillful, and intelligent music. It has always been a great disappointment that I was never able to see Rush live.
What drew me to Rush most has always been their epic drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, who sadly is no longer among the living. RIP Neil!
Neil Peart was, in my estimation, one of the world’s most talented drummers of all time. But more than that, he was an intensely deep and intelligent man, responsible for most of Rush’s lyrics, which required a graduate-level of education to understand at times.
As a teenager, I learned to play the guitar around age 16. Among my first goals… to learn to play Broons’ Bane and The Trees.
You can see how masterfully Alex Lifeson plays it in the video below:
I would practice for hours and hours on my piece-of-crap junk shop guitar, stopping every five minutes to re-tune it. I’d have to let my fingers recover from the talon-like grip I had on the guitar neck trying to get it right, and I remember having 1/8″ grooves in my fingertips for months.
Eventually, I got it. I could play Broon’s Bane and The Trees enough to put a crazy-ass grin on my face. If only I could have learned to sing like Geddy Lee and genuinely enjoy performing it. No such luck.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the lyrics of music with nearly as much enthusiasm as the wickedly delicious riffs they often accompany.
In my work with men, I have the opportunity to see how a man’s worldview plays out in his life, romantic relationships, family, career, and friendships. Being an 80’s music-loving Rush fan, I sometimes find those songs to speak some transcendent truths that are precisely what I see in the men in front of me.
Specifically, I find men’s mindsets fall into two ways of seeing themselves, each with profound impacts on their quality of life, depth of intimacy, and frequency of sexual intimacy.
Oaks and Maples.
Take a look at the lyrics for this epic Rush song, and then we’ll dive into why I see men as Oaks and Maples.
There is unrest in the forest
Trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade
There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream, “Oppression”
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
They say, “The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light”
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, ax, and saw
The trees – Rush
This song is a great commentary on many popular ideologies in culture. Still, I’d like to focus on how it relates to the mindsets I see in men.
Why I love oak trees and men who have an “Oak Mindset”
I live on a 25-acre homestead that is mainly wooded. I’m not short on opportunities to witness the mighty oak tree. Oaks are among my favorite trees in the forest. They’re massively strong, durable, and immovable during a storm. Oaks are also among the last to let go of their leaves in the fall, if at all, which means while every other tree looks dead, the oaks reassure the viewer that there is more still to come.
The Oak has exceptional longevity too. I rarely encounter them dying, and yet, when I do, I find much to be thankful for in their death as their sheer density and mass make some of the best firewood we have access to.
Oaks do indeed tower above other trees. They “grab up all the light” indeed. But they’re also imperturbable specimens of calm, quiet, and strength that provide cool shade on a hot summer’s day and blazing heat when they give up their strength to flame.
I’m privileged to know quite a few men with an Oak mindset. Durable men who don’t easily bend or break. Deeply masculine brothers who have grown immovable during the fierce storms of an angry spouse or disillusioned man with a “maple mindset” frustrated at the Oak for his “Oakness.”
Men with Oak Mindsets
Like the mighty Oak, these men give shade to the weary and keep the leaves of their values and truth when the winter winds have long since blown them off the weaker trees.
And I’ve known a few “Oakish” men. Even after their passing, these men left an enduring legacy by the acorns they dropped along the way and the heat they gave in being entirely burned up in their mission and purpose.
Oak men are just good to be around.
And the man with the Maple Mindsets… they can’t stand it.
Why I am cautious around maple trees and men with a “Maple Mindset.”
We also have many Maple trees in our forest, both hard and soft. Maples are beautiful trees, colorful, and enjoyable to be around. They provide shade, and adventurous climbing, and some even give sap that, with some distillation, produces a delightful syrup that befits many a delicious breakfast!
At the moment, where I live, many of the maples are dying, which I find disturbing and disappointing. Because of this decay, and because they’re not always firm, I have to be cautious when around them, especially in the wind.
One good gust of wind and a beautiful maple can become a deadly tragedy.
In this way, the Maple reminds me of a man with a “Maple Mindset .”Those are men with the attributes sung about in The Trees.
Men with Maple Mindsets
Those are men who appear beautiful, colorful, shade, and sap-giving, and yet have a side of them that is blame-oriented, manipulative, perturbable, and even envious of those with more strength than they – like the Oaks.
Such men aren’t safe like the dying maples in the forest on a windy day. Though they certainly long to be, they simply don’t possess the durability of the Oaks. A little bit of the winds of adversity and the shed branches.
Or a little bit of challenge to be more like the Oaks, and they scream “Oppression!” and demand the same freedoms and “equal rights” that the Oaks enjoy despite having few of the attributes of the Oaks.
The man with a Maple Mindset feels anger, resentment, bitterness, and even a bit victimized by the man with an Oak Mindset. “I don’t have what I want, and it’s your fault!”.
Because the man with the Maple Mindset blames others.
I’ve known a lot of men like this too. I have learned that though they are beautiful trees capable of giving shade, one must be cautious being around them. He must respect that though the Maple won’t try to kill them on purpose, they can still cause a lot of carnage just by their nature.
All the trees are worthy of admiration for their uniqueness, strengths, and beauty. I love Oaks, and I love Maples. I love men with Oak Mindsets, and I love men with Maple Mindsets.
Unlike Trees, men are gifted with the beautiful capacity to choose our attributes and mindsets. A man with a Maple Mindset can learn to become an Oak-minded man. He can learn to be more firm in storms, soak up more light, give more shade, and even leave this world in by giving blazing heat to others.
What kind of tree do you want to be?
I work with men on the journey to become more Oak-like in the lush forested company of other trees. I help men ready to stop screaming “oppression!” and are prepared to hold themselves to higher standards. Lastly, I walk with men who are prepared to stop the cheap tricks of “hatchet, axe, and saw” to gain a false sense of elevation by lowering the stature of the oaks around them.
To schedule your free One-Hour Oak Mindset Clarity Call, click here.