I’ve known Michael for a little over two years now and a few choice words come to mind. Strong (in more ways than one), ingenuity, inspiring, and surprising. Michael is one of the most unique people I have ever met in my life. He’s been to more islands than I can fathom and he’s wrestled more animals than I can even pronounce. Yesterday, I spent an entire day with Michael for his 23rd birthday hunting fish off of the coast of Catalina Island. This is the tale of the lessons I took away on how to be a man by spending a day in the deep blue with Michael Collins.
Stabbing a Lobster
To give some context, Michael has been spear fishing for about two years. One of his friends got him into the sport and he fell in love with it ever since. We walked around Catalina Island searching for the best spot (and for me, having never done this before, the best spot was going to be where ever Michael said the best spot was). We got our feet wet in a few locations before we found our gold mine for fish, Hamilton Beach. The coast was clear, calm, and turquoise. It wasn’t deep blue, it was light blue. The kind of water you only see in Corona commercials (just kidding, we all know those are edited). The type of water where you can look off the side of a and see the entire way down to bikini bottom.
Michael holding his three foot spear gun sees a prey he’d like to take on a nice date to his dinner table. He shoots the Larry lookin’ lobster with incredible precision. As he dives to the bottom of the ocean floor to take hold of his precious kill, it is evident that his spear is stuck under a massive rock with wiggling, orange covering its entirety. All the while two selfish eels are taking a lick at the lobster Michael fearlessly speared. I hand Michael the spear I was using and he begins to fight off the eels and grab the lobster. As Michael floats around under the water he takes a knife from his belt and without hesitation stabs the lobster in its chest. Ensuring that its creepy crawling legs are no long crawling, just creepy. Out of my very long 21 years of life, this was the most masculine moment I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing. This man shooed away two eels so that he could stab a lobster in the chest after he had already shot it with a spear gun. Let’s add another word to the list: hardcore.
How do we define masculinity?
Being a man isn’t about wrestling underwater sea creatures, Michael showed me that there is more to being a man than being “masculine”. After spearing 60lb yellow tails, Michael and I sat down at a restaurant and throughout our conversation it was evident how deeply he cares about people. Michael consciously tries to serve God and truly loves people. It seemed to me that he had a natural inclination to think about the wellbeing of others, and truly want the best for the people in his life. That’s amazing. This man, who I have no doubt could run off into the wilderness for months on end and completely sustain himself, is gentle and kind. Michael is humble, he’s aware of his shortcomings (which is already a step ahead of most of us, including myself) and is willing to admit when he is wrong or readjust to find a better solution to problems.
Notes to Michael
Michael, thank you for letting me be a part of your 23rd birthday! I always feel honored to have a friend like you. You’re the type of guy everyone wants in their friend group but aren’t lucky enough to have. I truly appreciate our friendship. Thank you for being caring, thoughtful, and a devoted servant of a Christ. Your opinion ways heavy in my book and I’m thankful you’re in it!