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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Outward, Upward, Deeper, More.

I have a routine at the end of a day, assuming shift work allows. I let the dog out into the rear garden and look up at the stars, assuming they are visible. Tonight as I did so I saw my neighbour who was doing the same, and he directed my attention to a point in the sky where there was a star of particular luminosity. Only it wasn't a star, it was the planet Mars, and we gazed at it together. I have never knowingly gazed upon another planet with my naked eyes before, and it was a profound moment for both of us. And then we talked, and we learned that we were both atheists with wives whom hold deep and cherished beliefs. Nothing disrespectful was said, but it gave us the chance to talk through how we had come to our views. Again it was broadly similar. We had both tried to believe, and for some years had done so. I'd probably been more successful in convincing myself about the existence of God than he. In the end though we couldn't negotiate the hurdles that help a person to retain belief in the divine. We spoke warmly of the scientific method, and of having the courage to be open to changing ideas should the evidence warrant. At no point was it a bitch feet against religion, and it occurs to me how far I've come in this respect. If you read some previous blogs I've raged against it, but those days are behind me. It is sufficient that I seek to live my life with integrity, irony, courage and a measure of humour. I actively choose to adapt my views when I feel a must. Of late I'm trying harder to resist some of the cold cynicism I've been guilty of In the past. It makes me an uglier man and I want to walk a gentler path. Again I choose this without condemning those who take a different view, and I can say only that I am the more peaceful for it. I'm fortunate in so many ways; I've children I adore, a measure of material wealth, and at the time of writing reasonable levels of health. And I have a wife whom a I love, cherish, and desire to treat like a Queen. She is the cherry on the cake of my life and our relationship is such that I'd do anything for her at the drop of a hat. So yeah I'm lucky. Lucky and acutely aware of it. So many have it hard, so many whom deserve better never get it. So to be cynical and hard in the face of this seems increasingly wrong to me. And I want to have an outlook which openly appreciates all that I have whilst being aware that nothing lasts forever.
And all this because I went out and looked up at the sky.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

An Idiots Guide To Masculinity

I get a bit tired of stereotypes. If you feel you have to be a certain kind of man or a certain kind of women then I suggest that this says something horribly dreary about you. Better instead that you try to be the kind of guy or gal that you want to be rather than the kind that society expects you to be. I mean, do you really want to spend your life dancing to somebody else's tune? Never be afraid to live a life that is authentic, never desire the approval of those who would have you be something you are not. And never, and I mean holy fuck never live your life as some kind of tacit apology. It's too short, too unpredictable. On the subject of stereotypes one of my pet hates is the alpha male, the guy that, in one foul swoop manages to drag the true meaning of masculinity so far through the mud that it becomes something ugly and false and inane. Masculinity is about so much more than being physically imposing and verbose; in fact those two things have relatively little to do with being a man. I'm going to suggest that true strength is about presence of mind, of about being able to communicate and project ourselves without doing so at at the expense of others. Don't bore me with your temper and your threats of violence; if I want to see that I'll visit a pre-school. If you want to show yourself a real man learn to think around problems, learn to react creatively under pressure, and seek to avoid causing undue harm and distress. Oh yeah and another thing, masculinity has even less to do with the number of women you've slept with, or the way you do it. I'd suggest that true masculinity, sexually speaking, is about trying to learn what makes that other person tick. About getting inside their psychology and freeing them to be totally comfortable and open with you. In some cases that may actually require a degree of submission on your part. Don't fret it kiddo, just go with it and enjoy the proverbial ride. If you haven't detected the recurring theme yet you probably haven't understood masculinity, so for the slower learners among you I'm gonna spell it out. Learn to listen, and learn to be responsive, and make a real effort to engage with others in an authentic and real way. And here's the punch line; masculinity actually has an awful lot to do with vulnerability, with having the courage to step outside your own norms and learn to see the world, and think about the world in a different way. Boys, can I gently suggest that some of you have been doing this man thing all wrong. Wake up chaps, stretch those hairy arms and make an effort to relocate from that cave you've been living in. Trust me, much greater happiness and real knowledge isn't such a long trek away.