The Ipanema Boardwalk

The Ipanema Boardwalk

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On the boardwalk at Ipanema Beach, it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro. Skateboarders, rollerbladers, joggers, surfers, bikers, juicers, tanners, vacationers, staffers — they all pass by, skin shiny and mildly naked. Sand and salt and vanity fill the air.

There are small outdoor gyms every couple hundred meters along the beach: bars for pull ups, dips, incline push ups and stretches. A jungle gym for adults. Men stop and quietly pump up their muscles for the day, then move on. It’s a place where everyone is keenly aware of those around them. A surprisingly abnormal amount of men have six packs and bulging arms. A modest, yet in-shape, man can’t help but feel a bit intimidated and envious at the chiseled physiques roaming around. Short, stocky men with barrel chests, powerful backs and perfect arms. He may think to himself: if only he could look like that, the day would be so much better.

And one imagines that the shorter men with chiseled physiques may look at the taller men and think to themselves of how many tall guys there are at the beach today, and how it intimidates them and makes them envious. How can they compete?

And a pale tall man may look around and loathe the guys with perfect tans, for they obviously have better beach bodies and get more attention. And the man with the perfect tan looks at the man sitting with four cute girls and envies him, wondering how does a guy find four hot girls in bikinis to go to the beach with him like that?

And the man with the four hot girls with him is annoyed at how loud and obnoxious his sisters and their friends are and wishes he could hang out with his guy friends instead. Not far away, a man at the beach with his guy friends ignores their games and jokes and looks longingly at the girls laying out tanning with their tops undone and wonders how one would go about meeting them.

And the girl laying out tanning wishes her boyfriend were around so the men would stop staring at her. And her boyfriend, wading into the water alone for hours on end, wishes his girlfriend would stop crowding him and demanding his attention all the time. He envies the single men who are able to roam free and do what they want whenever they’d like.

And other girls at the beach lament that the cute boys are always gay. And the cute gay boy is so sick and tired of men who just want to have sex all the time and wishes he could find romance and something more. And the man stuck romancing his wife on their vacation wishes he were still the young, handsome lad he used to be, strutting across the beach, commanding attention on a whim.

The white gringos admire the dark, powerful physiques of the black Brazilians and the black Brazilians admire the blonde hair and green-blue eyes of the white gringos. And the English and American and Australian boys would kill to speak some Portuguese. And the Brazilian girls wish they could understand English better.

The skinny girls wish they had hips and the girls with hips want to be skinnier. The brunettes dye their hair blond and the blond girls wish they were darker like the brunettes. The men playing volleyball wish they could surf and the surfers wish they had the time and money to buy drinks and a nice umbrella to sit under and the men with drinks and the nice umbrellas wish they were young and healthy and playing volleyball again.

The waves crash. Footballs bounce. People splash each other and laugh. The crisp crack of a Skol can opening echoes across every post. Children play in their own little worlds. Meanwhile, the Christ statue watches over all of them from afar, arms wide and unceasing, with stoic, loving acceptance. And the people pass on by.

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42 Comments

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  • Reply

    Jordan

    4 months ago

    Love it! So true.. The only thing you can do is just know that you’re exactly right just how you are. And get out there interacting with who you want!

    I recently found your website and really like your mature outlook and point of view on the whole men-women affair. Good job Mark, if you come to São Paulo you’ve got a friend here!

  • Reply

    Koanic

    4 months ago

    You haven’t written anything this good (in the sense of beauty) since the one about beggars in India.

  • Reply

    Daniel

    4 months ago

    awesome. straight to the point and still beautiful. thank you

  • Reply

    Dave

    4 months ago

    This is fantastic. Sometime’s you’re looking at someone wishing you could be them, and at the same time they’re wishing they could be you. Great post.

  • Reply

    Salaam

    4 months ago

    That was beautiful. My favorite articles on here, are always the ones that give me the chance to feel as well as learn.

  • Reply

    Guyintheback

    4 months ago

    Thank you for that post, Mark.
    Right post at the right time.

  • Reply

    Ethan

    4 months ago

    Liked this a lot. It seems like it is human nature to be constantly envious about something. Hmm scratch that, it is probably cultural. We are bombarded by marketing from day 0 telling us what we need and what we should strive for.

    I like this a lot and would add: the high powered executive wishes he had more time for freedom to pursue what he truly enjoys in life, while the young graduate with all the free time in the world wished he knew his purpose in life.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      4 months ago

      Yeah, that’s a good one. You could go on and on and on with these.

  • Reply

    Jack

    4 months ago

    The grass always SEEMS greener on the other side!

  • Reply

    Stanley

    4 months ago

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/gym

    Just saw the cartoon yesterday…think it visualizes your article in a way

  • Reply

    Halo Effect

    4 months ago

    This post made me happy. :)

    We can think “If only I … then I would be happy” for all eternity. But the fact is that we have so much to be grateful for, so many opportunities, we are alive!

  • Reply

    Traindom

    4 months ago

    Excellent prose, Mark.

    If only we could communicate our envies to each other, we’d all have one big laugh over it all.

  • Reply

    Xander

    4 months ago

    I remember running on the beach in Ipanema. After running in one direction for awhile I took notice that I stopped seeing women. I remember thinking “Man, this place is a sausage fest.” Then I saw boys kissing and realized I had entered gay section.

    Another great post Mark

  • Reply

    jjj

    4 months ago

    “Not far away, a man at the beach with his guy friends ignores their games and jokes and looks longingly at the girls laying out tanning topless and wonders how one would go about meeting them.”

    This feeling is driving me to tears.

  • Reply

    Chaos

    4 months ago

    Amazing. This is the best articule you’ve writen so far. While reading it I was actualling seeing all the things you were describing in my mind, I almost felt and emphatize with the people on the beach. Great, great article.

  • Reply

    Mitch

    4 months ago

    Damn, you’ve gone and outdone yourself again. Amazing writing. Write a real book already

  • Reply

    J.C.

    4 months ago

    Haha… perspective is a fucking clown. You, my friend, have written in words the essence of imperfect human nature.

  • Reply

    Tony D

    4 months ago

    There’s the poet.

  • Reply

    Keith

    4 months ago

    Brilliant, simply brilliant Mark!

  • Reply

    Ari

    4 months ago

    Another great post. Constant dissatisfaction with the present is in the nature of mind. As elaborated earlier, meditation and other forms of vertical growth can activate the inner witness and give one a panoramic view of existence.

  • Reply

    Steven

    4 months ago

    Great article Mark.

    Simple but it says soo much!

  • Reply

    G

    4 months ago

    beautiful piece

  • Reply

    Brian

    4 months ago

    I have a huge amount of respect for you for writing this, its what everyone needs to hear!!!

  • Reply

    Dr Feelgood

    4 months ago

    Loved it!

    I will try to remember this article next time a feeling like that comes up.

  • Reply

    RJ

    4 months ago

    Stumbled upon this by chance.
    Uncommonly beautiful and profound. Now I feel compelled to read every single post on your blog.

  • Reply

    Larissa

    4 months ago

    I’m so sorry, I was reading your article and had to stop in ” tanning topless”, as a Brazilian girl I can tell you we love tanning but not topless, this is not even acceptable by law tbh .In Brazil, who goes topless, goes to jail!
    Now I can read the rest in peace after saying that.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      4 months ago

      Oops, I guess I didn’t write it, but I meant that they were lying on their stomachs with their tops undone. I can see how you could get the wrong idea. I will edit this. Thanks.

  • Reply

    Vallin

    4 months ago

    And then the Girl from Ipanema goes walking and everyone goes: “AHHHHHHH!!!”
    [cue Stan Getz]

  • Reply

    Vallin

    4 months ago

    Any ‘Frasier’ fans remember “The Ski Lodge”?
    (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0582556)

  • Reply

    JakeTheRake

    4 months ago

    Fantastic…

    And I’d like to add: the slim silver-haired man of 50 sees the hot tan twenty-year old girl flirting with the hunky young man and wishes he could get his youth and hunkiness back. But he doesn’t see the other cute girl watching him and wondering how much he’s worth, and whether his experience in bed is worth a night’s romp…

  • Reply

    fun-da-mental

    3 months ago

    most excellent! It really shows how people are never content with the here and now…we constantly want something else, and hence are supremely unhappy.
    They way out is to always feel what’s going on right here, right now. Really enter the current moment totally. Only then, miracles can happen!

  • Reply

    hollywood hank

    3 months ago

    once i attain all these things i will relax on a beach

  • Reply

    Garrett

    2 months ago

    That was a great read, thanks Mark. Really puts things in to perspective.

  • Reply

    Rufus

    1 month ago

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this website. He was once totally right. This submit truly made my day. You cann’t imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • Reply

    Q

    1 month ago

    Haha really beautifully done, Mark. I certainly enjoyed reading your articles and this one was no exception.

    I like how you approach things from a more fundamental, objective and honest perspective compared to most dating advice out there. Your book “Models” reflects this well.

    I find your articles in other areas very insightful too. Please keep doing what you are doing. I learn a lot from you.

    Cheers!

    Q

  • Reply

    Young Dreamer

    13 weeks ago

    Woah,

    This was incredibly poetic and eye-opening. I’ve understood this concept before, but you just made it so clear and real.

  • Reply

    Cameron McCool

    2 weeks ago

    Poignant and well-depicted. I found myself wishing there were a conclusion, a solution to all of this.

    Closest I’ve come in my own life is: acceptance. At times life is insecurity. At times life is security. There is beauty in both, and peace can be found when one accepts what is present from moment to moment, to moment.

    Keep up the great work Mark. Thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    Cameron

  • Reply

    Jack

    4 months ago

    hahahahahah! time travelling are we? :-)

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