Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Men From The Boys

Emma Watson is getting a lot of attention this week, and so she should. It isn't just that she's spoken out about feminism at the UN, but more to do with the style in which she did it. It was a virtuoso performance, full of humanity and common sense and devoid of the aggression that has so often blighted what has always been a worthy cause. Over the centuries women have been wronged by men. Horribly so. And men now have to recognise this and start acting like, well, frankly real men. And let's be blunt, there's a shortage of real men out there. You know, males who are self aware and capable of communicating and acting in ways that empower those around them rather than corrode. And believe it or not that last observation was gender neutral, because men have also been busy wronging other men. Many seem blighted by a form of insecurity that restricts them from being fully featured. By this I mean able to be strong and vulnerable and true to themselves as opposed to constantly seeking to conform to some vague stereotype. We've allowed ourselves to become conformist and bland, beholden to the macho bullshit that frankly the world could do without. Strength, and I mean real strength is about presence of mind, emotional intelligence. Dare I say it, about emotional availability. This is nothing to do with the idea of New Man, who to me seems frankly dour and insipid. No, I mean men able to bring all their positive qualities to bare on a world that has so often experienced only the worst. How much pointless violence, how much vengeful thirst have we been the cause of? How often have we forsaken reason for brute force? This isn't to say we cannot be masculine, and if you think that then you're missing the point, which is just to suggest that we are capable of so much more if we'd just allow ourselves to be vulnerable sometimes. If we'd allow our compassion to outweigh brute instinct. Men at our best are just bloody brilliant. Funny, hard working, creative, steadfast, and more. Yet we've denied ourselves access to our better selves, and in the process ridden roughshod over the opposite gender. Time to cut that out guys. Time to let women be amazing and to quit being threatened by that. As a man with two daughters and a wife whom I regard as my Queen I make no apology for wanting to see more women in the world empowered. We will all be the richer for it, which is why I encourage you all to sign up to the #HeforShe campaign, which Emma Watson so majestically bought to the attention of the United Nations last week. It's about mutual empowerment, shared self actualisation, about bringing the best of us to the party and seeing where together we roam. Be more, be real, and empower others to do similar. Do we not owe ourselves this?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Riding The Wave

When I abandoned religious belief I embarked upon something of a quest to figure out how the world really was. I wanted answers, a narrative, and some additional understanding as to how I had come to get things so wrong. It's probably fair to say that I launched myself into this project with equal zeal as I had when I first came to faith at the age of 24. To know me is to know someone who doesn't do half measures. I'm an in for a penny, in for a pound kind of guy. Passionate, often zealous in my convictions, and I go full pelt. It's just who I am, how I'm wired. Or rather, it's how I formerly was. Thing is I've come to realise that the trouble with going full pelt is that it's a bit like excess speed. Sure, you might pass milestones a bit quicker, but the view along the way can get blurred. So I reached a point where I had to let the screaming locomotive otherwise known as my brain slow down, allow it to decelerate to a speed that actually enabled me to enjoy the journey. And let's face it the journey is a one way ticket; we are careening towards a terminus and none of us know the day or the hour. So then, what to do in the bit beforehand? Well, taking into account the fact that I appear to be a slow learner I just kind of decided that I wanted to enjoy the ride. And like most journeys there's a balancing act to be struck. Too slow and boredom sets in, too fast and you miss a lot of good stuff. So for me I'm into pacing it now. I want to have have fun, be authentic, and play some small part in making the lives of others better. I have a job that enables me to do that, and days like today really ram this home. Whether I'm dealing with a victim of domestic violence, a kidnap victim, or a confused elderly person I'm acutely aware that if I function to capacity I get to play a teeny part in making a persons bad day a little better. And when I'm not at work the same principle applies. Occasionally I can be quite amusing to be around. Ok, so mostly annoying, but amusing too. I can make you laugh, I can prompt you to think, and I do appear to have a special ability to coax people out of their shell. There's no window dressing, no veil to pull back. It's just me, just Rob. No agenda. Well actually, I guess we all have something of an agenda, so if pressed I simply say that I want to make each hour, each minute interesting. I want to experience the thrill of being alive, to treasure what I have even on the tough days, aware that the clock ticks callously on. This minute, these seconds, by the time you've finished this sentence they'll have gone forever. We're onto the next thing, in constant flux, caught upon the tidal flow of existence.
At the end of day I want to flourish and to enable others for flourish, too. I have no desire to seek eternal salvation because I do not think that there's a saviour out there. I think it's us, just you and I swimming in the oceans of existence. So like Doreen from Finding Nemo I'm going to just keep on swimming. Just keep on swimming, exploring the coral, the denizens, and trying to squeeze as much living as I can into whatever time my genetic code allows. I do not mourn eternity, nor find myself angst ridden because I lack a personal faith.
I am. I am now. This is enough for me. And I am grateful that I got the chance to ride these waves at all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Checking In

I've probably changed a bit in the last year or so. More relaxed, less interested in those big questions that kept me awake for more years than I care to remember. It's too easy to succumb to the flow of other people's opinions and I just needed to figure out what belonged to me versus that which I'd filched from elsewhere. In a sense, I wanted to take time to figure out where the world ended and I began. Now I guess these lines are blurred for all of us, but I've settled on a few simple principles that appear by and large to work. For starters I've succeeded in thinking less, analysing less, which has just given me more mental bandwidth to focus on positives. I wanted to be an engaging and attentive husband, an entertaining and available father. And the free time I have I want to spend enjoying the natural world, the simple joys of good food, and exploring the geek side to my nature that loves movies, technology, innovation. I'm not out to conquer but I am out to flourish, and to enable those around me to do likewise. Professionally, I'm just turning up and doing my best to serve the public, increasingly aware that my employees are sliding ever more quickly into a quagmire of denial and corporate incompetence. It's an odd thing to see smart people refusing to listen to reason and often brute facts. It is also a little demoralising, but I console myself with the knowledge that I'm really darn good at what I do, and that I have a certain ability to get alongside people under pressure and to steady them somewhat. For those of you who've followed my blog for the last three years and enjoyed my rants against religion I have to warn you that my angry days are behind me. I choose not engage with the whole sideshow, although I would admit that the latest bunch of bearded goons from IS do occasionally make my nostrils flare. They of course are perfectly designed for failure, and the only real question is how much harm they cause before 21st century weaponry comes to a desert near them in the not too distance future to settle the matter.
Yeah I know, I'm leaping from topic to topic like a cat on a hot tin roof, and there's no depth to any of it. This blog was always meant to be intellectual Kleenex, effective and disposable. To that end mission accomplished. If you want depth take a philosophy class or read Winnie The Poo.