IT TAKES A MAN
What's The Gut Feeling Associated With Being A Guy?
I take it for granted that I am a man. Yet at any given moment, I don’t feel like a man. So how does that happen? So I thought why not explore, in a series of blogs, what it means to be a man. I don’t claim to have the definitive answer or any answers, but I know that answers often emerge from exploration and dialogue. So I’m looking forward to exploring the topic for myself and looking forward to your comments and insights.
I think this is an age-old question, and I’m not sure the caveman had any more insight than his offspring! And too, with women asking the parallel question for themselves in the last hundred or so years, I think many men, including myself, have looked to women for the answer. You know, that notion that she’ll let me know by her seductive eyes and smile if I’m a real man or not.
And because we have become increasingly homophobic, we forget that we need to look to our own kind, to each other, for the answer to that question. That’s not to say that women don’t have valuable feedback for us. They do. But I believe that there is a part of the answer to this question that only we, as men, can answer for each other.
We must have some idea of what a real man is because we have phrases like ‘it takes a man,...a few good men.....BE a man....it takes a BIG man....step up to the plate."
But here’s the corker. Even if we find the answers to the question, how does one go about FEELING like a real man. How does one acquire a gut experience of being a man?
As the years have gone by and I have realized that I am no longer three or five or twelve or eighteen or twenty six, but suddenly I am thirty something, forty something, fifty something, SIXTY FOUR, I am too keenly aware, for my own comfort, that the gut experience of being a GUY continues to escape me more often than I prefer.
For example, just the other day, I was speaking, at a luncheon, to a group of folks from a local service organization, about family life and parenting. A member of the audience seriously challenged one of my "bits of parenting wisdom," and immediately, my voice began to quiver and go up in range! I suddenly felt like I was in my twenties talking to my Dad about some of my philosophical notions that he totally disagreed with. In fact, he would say, "I don’t know why in the heck I sent you to that college!"
At age sixty four, I am familiar enough with this phenomenon, that I have learned how to respond to it well. I take a deep breath, make eye contact with the person challenging me, and I actually join my "contender" by validating his question. I’m experienced enough to also demonstrate how the particular bit of parenting wisdom achieves exactly what he is wanting to achieve with his own children. So, from a public speaking perspective, I got it made in the shade. But it’s not just about public speaking techniques. I have confidence in the skills I share with folks because I practice them every day. I know what works and what does not. But that’s not the point either.
How does it happen? That’s my interest. How does it happen that suddenly I feel so small, so young, so unmanly. I know that part of the answer has to do with my perception of the man asking the question. First of all, he is a very large man, both in height and width. He is what I call distinguished-looking, powerful-looking, a booming voice, all those characteristics to which my psyche says, "Hey, now there’s a real man." Unfortunately. My psyche doesn’t stop there. "And he thinks what you have to say is bunk!"
So there you got it. So I have a "little" LOUD voice in my head that repeatedly undermines my gut experience of being a man. Cuts my balls off right on the spot.
So what has been your experience of the "little" LOUD voice? Know that the point here is not to bash anyone from our past. It’s simply about exploration and learning a little bit more of how we got to this point in our development and how we might grow to some other place and pass that on as well.
Looking forward to your comments.
AND THANKS FOR READING
In It Takes A Man #2, I will share with you about a part of me I call The Tall Guy!