Being a man in 2016 is tough. We are the maligned sex, often accused of only having an interest in self-gratification, money, and a one-night stand. We struggle to show ourselves as emotional beings. If we do, others pounce on us as being weak or soft. Cry real tears, and you are likely to carry an unpleasant label with you for some time. I love it when male sports stars cry after they have won, or lost.
It took me time to have the nerve to cry. Crying is healthy, relieves pent up stress and sends out a signal to the world that you are hurting. A warning shot that you need help and comforting. Growing up in a blue-collar household didn’t leave much room for displaying emotions for me. All too often I saw emotional release as a string of four letter words or putting a fist through the wall. I have done both. I am not proud. I have learned that is a destructive way to act that hurts others. Often, those who love and care for you the most. The ones who want to help.
But I am educated. Not in a school sense but in a hard knocks kind of way. My heart’s broken many times, it is hard putting it back together, but I do. Each time, this man is just a little smarter and wiser from the experience.
I became an emotional person at the height of my testosterone-filled teens. How? By reading and listening to music. I could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything. I immersed myself into the stories and imagined me as the protagonist or other characters. Music transported me—the lyrics, guitars, and other instruments sending me off. Often my eyes would well up and shed a tear. It was OK behind the protection of four walls and a locked door. I remember crying after 9/11, when my sister died, after the loss of a pet and when President Reagan passed. Recently we went on a vacation. We flew across the country to attend a three-day music festival. When we arrived, we went to visit the seats we would sit in over the next three days. The tears started to flow. I could not believe we were able to have this experience, just the two of us and 85 thousand of our new friends. It was not supposed to be this way for me.
Expectations were set low for me at an early age. Fortunately surpassing them all, no one being more surprised than me. Success came for me because I put my heart into the things that are meaningful. Work is important. So I found a way to love it, or parts of it at least.
I began writing about eighteen months ago and am pleased with the progress so far. I have been struggling lately with understanding spirit and soul. Someone who reads my work made a comment that my art was part of my spirit. My art? Who me? Tears rolled down my face. It hit me straight in the heart. It felt good. The first time anyone had used my name and art in the same sentence. At my age, that was a meaningful comment.
We have emotions for a reason. They have been developing over the past two hundred thousand years. I believe we all will be better off if we start using the ones that reduce stress. Or those that call out to others that you are experiencing something that you want to share with them. Emotions know no prejudice, gender, race or religion. They are priceless bits of us that make us unique. I am a good man and my heart both comforts and hurts.
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