The Detoxing Man is Willing (to wonder, to change, and to be wrong)
I am often wrong. About small things like the whether or about if a particular aging celebrity is in fact dead. I am also wrong about big things, like when my son’s soccer game is, which causes a mad scramble as I check the calendar 15 minutes before it is set to begin. I am also wrong about massive things like believing in “color blindness” as a viable solution for institutional racism.
I am willing to admit to being wrong about all of it. And yet, because when I speak, my male voice carries inherent and unearned authority, it is not enough to be willing to admit when I am wrong. I must not claim, as Kate Manne put it, Epistemic entitlement. I am not the one holder of knowledge, the only one capable of doling it out. I am not the truth teller, the mansplainer, or the voice of authority.
When I speak about the weather before I look up the forecast, I should be willing to state it as a guess rather than a fact. I should be willing to change the way in which I speak because it is a better representation of both my intentions and my understanding. When I am unwilling to change, I cause others, my wife included, to doubt themselves and their own lived experience. My perceived certainty becomes my loved ones’ doubt, even when I am proved wrong. It reinforces a strength I do not possess, and creates distrust that I do not want.
So I am willing be both wrong and to change how I am wrong, but I also must be willing to wonder openly about possibility, about what might be rather than what is. When I wonder about what this summer will hold or how we should plan my youngest son’s 9th birthday, I invite others into my willingness, I make them a part of the story. Rather than holding on to what little truth I have, I ask others to help me make it bigger to envision all of what it might someday contain. When I am willing to wonder without the fear that I will be wrong or authoritatively say what will or will not happen, I become open to surprise and delight. I am open to tomorrow rather than merely yesterday, all because I am willing.