Have you ever taken a moment to step outside of yourself and look in at your life as an observer? So often we get so caught up in our own movie that we forget to realize that everyone is seeing the world from their own version of reality, or their own movie. Each person’s movie is the only one that they see, and everyone that is in it all play the supporting roles. Think about all the thoughts you have on a daily basis. There are probably thousands of them. Every person out there is thinking about their life at all times, just like you are at this moment.
I looked at my father the other day, and thought about what his movie might be like. I stepped out of myself and looked in at him and my family. I saw the weathered soul of a man who required the same soul nourishment as we all do, but who never properly supplied himself with it or received it for a few reasons. For the most part, men in society are expected to fulfill a certain role to maintain an identity which is based around this role. Men are the strong ones, emotionally and physically, and are the protectors and providers for women and children. We see this so often with corporate jobs, labour jobs, or trades jobs; men working long and difficult hours, spending time away from their family and friends, working most of their life away until they get sick or until they retire.
Men are also expected to be strong emotionally, for to see a male cry is usually unexpected and touching more so than seeing a female or child crying. For this reason, men often internalize emotional experiences throughout their lives. As humans, we feel emotions to release energy so that we can heal and grow, so this expectation of men could possibly be stunting their mental and spiritual growth.
I had a brother who passed away in 2011. I remember going through the pain as a family. Thinking back to the year of his passing, I can remember the compassion and love that was shown for our family by family and friends. However, I recall how people showed their care and the questions that they would ask, and for the most part the questions were aimed towards how my mother was dealing with the death, and how her healing journey was progressing. It appeared that people were more concerned about my mother’s well-being as apposed to my father’s. I’m not saying that people didn’t ask my father how he was doing, but in general it seemed as though that people expected my father to be coping better than my mother, even though it was both of their child. So there is that expectation again.
Discussing our feelings and thoughts about important things in our lives is cathartic for most. It is common to see women sharing their feelings with their friends and family. Being a waiter in restaurants for the past 6 years, I’ve seen this first hand. Women sitting for hours on end drinking their wine or tea, chatting about their lives. When men are dining together, it is a different experience. For the most part, men want their food quick and want to be in and out as soon as possible. When was the last time you saw two manly men sitting together talking about how things make them feel? I’ve noticed with my own father and other people’s fathers the trouble they have expressing their feelings and emotions. This does not mean that men do not have these feelings, but rather that these feelings are mostly internalized.
At a deeper level we all require the same things to feel nourished, such as love, peace, and acceptance. The cultural definition of a man and the role that they take on in society makes it difficult for men to communicate these needs, and this affects their personal growth as a human. Be aware of this, and break the norm the next time you see your dad or a guy-friend by giving them a hug instead of a handshake, or by asking them how they have been feeling in the hectic times we are living in.
As we progress through the massive world changes currently taking place, it is important to let go of the definitions that were created in the past and to embrace a new paradigm. This means letting go of the identities created around masculinity and femininity. Ask yourself this question, if someone were to suddenly reveal to you that everything that you were so sure was true about life and the universe was actually false, could you release your all of your attachments and accept it? Or would you go into a state resistance and fear instead? This question is an important one to be asking ourselves throughout this phase in our lives. We are so much more than we have been lead to believe.
Happy Father’s Day and much love to all the dads out there!