Posts Tagged 'men'

So many brave warriors

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This last weekend I braved an early and somewhat cold start, attached my fastest and biggest lens to my camera and headed off to take some action shots of the Ironman triathlon being held in Durban.  As I left my house the sky was alive with promise of a beautiful day and I felt the sweet breath of anticipation somewhere deep within me.

I arrived at the starting point just as the sun was edging its way into the new day, creating black palm tree silhouettes against a flaming red sky.  Three and a half thousand men and women stood shivering in their wetsuits waiting to start this half ironman competition that started with a two kilometre swim out past the back line and in again further up the beach.  From here the competitors cast aside their wet suits and head out on a one hundred kilometre bike ride. When done with that they would then have to face a twenty one kilometre run before they make it to the finish line.  My goodness this is only a half Ironman!! Families, friends and strangers mill around waiting for the start before walking the distance to where they come out of the water to start stage two.  I am struck by the tense sense of excitement.  An almost breathless anticipation of the day ahead.

The competitors came in all shapes and sizes along with all ages.  Each one of them prepared to push themselves physically and mentally beyond the norm.  Each one of them setting themselves an seemingly impossible target.  The waves that day were enormous.  Probably over three metres and to be honest, not being a water baby, there is not even a possibility I would have ventured out there in a worthy vessel let alone under my own steam.  As the swimmers came back towards the shore you could see the massive waves filled with tiny black dots being swept high and pounded down to be tossed about like buttons in a shaker jar.  Not for the feint hearted.  However, age was not a deterrent to these people.  There were plenty of competitors considerably older than me.  Size was not a deterrent.  They came in every possible guise.  As they stumbled out of the water I was already in awe.

They set off on their bicycles and we made a dash to drive to a half way point.  Firstly because it had coffee (having been up since five thirty this was becoming a priority in my life at this time) and secondly so that I could get some photographs like the one above.  This guy is smiling.  Seriously!

Then we drove back to the finish line to watch them run.  The run was done by way of a ten or so kilometre loop so the runners came past several times.  Supporters lined this route, leaning up against the barrier and passing endless words of encouragement to the runners who by now are starting to look like finishing is not even a possibility.

I was overwhelmed by the support these complete strangers gave to the competitors. Every man and woman that passed was handed a huge dose of kindness.  Their names would be called and words of encouragement would follow.  The people next to me made sure not to miss out anyone.  They clapped and cheered and gave courage to those that had seemingly lost their own.  This was beautiful.  By now the sun was warm and I found myself surrounded by strangers helping strangers.  The unknown supporting the unknown. I soaked it up and revealed in the joy of being human.  How incredibly sweet this all was.

We are capable of so much more than we think.  As humans we have the mental capacity to overcome almost anything.  Seeing these people push themselves to the limits of their endurance and physical capability moved me in a way I cannot describe.  They were truly courageous.  Each facing whatever it is they have to face and doing so for their own reasons.  Each with their own story.

The kindness that humans show to each other is so beautiful it is beyond words.  Why I ask myself do we have wars and why are people so intolerant of one another.  It is not our nature.  We are not born this way.  We are born with soft open hearts and this is how it should stay.  When people come together like this, hold each other up and open their hearts to one another there is an energy that sinks deep into your soul.

It should be like this everyday.  Be kind to one another.  Open your hearts and hold each other up.  We are all courageous and we are all just writing the pages of our own stories.

As in the words of Ram Dass – “We are all just walking each other home”.

 

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To all the fathers out there.

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I have been mulling this weeks subject in my mind for some time, wondering when to post and even if to post, then I saw this quote “your ideas won’t do a thing to help anybody if they are kept inside you”.  How true is that!  In fact the beginning of that quote says “You have as much ability to change the world, write history and shape the future as any other person”.  Perhaps we all need to remember that from time to time when we feel like we don’t matter.

On the subject of feeling like you don’t matter. Growing up I had a father who I can only describe as indifferent to me.  He was an alcoholic and died aged 55.  I did not speak to him for the last ten years of his life, a choice I made, not without much thought and hesitation, but can honestly say I do not regret.  I was simply not prepared to go on his alcoholic journey with him and needed to distance myself not only from his self destruction but also the deleterious effect that his behaviour had on me.  I have long ago dealt with most of the deeps issues associated with my relationship with him but here is what I have to say to all men out there who have daughters.

A little girl’s relationship with her father shapes all future relationships she has with men.  It is the most important male – female relationship she will ever have.  It sets the standard.  Her father is her benchmark.  She will look to him, even when she is tiny and unaware, to learn the rules of how a man should treat a woman.  Of what to expect from a man.  Of how she should be treated and loved.  So men, I want you to look at your daughters, it does not matter if they are still very young and have far to go before they begin to form bonds with other males, or if they are already teenagers and tentatively exploring their first relationships, or even fully grown.  I want you to think about the sort of man you would want your daughter to marry and if you are not that sort of man yourself you need to step up and make some changes.  You need to set the benchmark and you need to set it really high!

Lets imagine for a moment what sort of man you would want for your daughter.  Get a pen and paper out and list some of his qualities. Go ahead and list all his qualities if you want.  You might start with these.  Faithful, honest, humble, strong, open, full of integrity and kindness, healthy and fit.  I am sure most of these would come into the equation and probably a whole load more.  The list can be as long as you want to make it.  This is your beautiful baby girl so don’t limit it.  You want nothing but the best for her.  Now, take a really good look at yourself.  Be honest.  Really really honest.  Think about how close you come to being that man.  Don’t just flit over it. Think about it really hard.

If you want your daughter to marry a man who opens the door for her, or carries the heavy bags then do that.  Let her see you do that.  If you want your daughter to marry a man who adores her then go ahead and adore her.  If you want your daughter to marry a man who fixes stuff around the house without being asked then please be that man.  If you want your daughter to marry a man who stays fit and strong so that he can always be there for her then go ahead and do the same.  If you want him to be humble and kind then let her see you be humble and kind. If you want her future husband to be emotionally available then you need to do the same. What and who you are is what and who she will marry.  It really is that astonishingly simple.  She is watching you. She is looking at the big picture and all the little details. She is getting her cues from you.  So be sure to be that person all the time and not just to her.

Here is what is going to happen when you rise up and become the man you would want for her.  You are going to set the standard for what she expects.  She won’t settle for less and so not only are you ensuring that she will marry the kind of man she deserves you are setting a benchmark for all the young men out there too.  All those young men out there have no choice but to rise up and be the kind of men you would want for your daughter.

So go ahead and be the benchmark.  Set the bar really high.  It is kind of like a beautiful pay it forward and one day when you walk with her and hand her over to a man, waiting expectantly at the end of an aisle, you will be really grateful you did.

 

On being powerfully feminine

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This whole media hype that has surrounded Bruce Jenner has been the inspiration behind this discussion.  Now I am not going to comment on him or his life.  That is not my place.  I just want to say this.  I like being a woman. I like that women are, in their very nature, soft and tender, open and nurturing.  I like that we go out of our way to tend to one another.  That we take time to listen when others are feeling vulnerable and in turn are vulnerable ourselves.  That we welcome conversation on a deep soul level.  That we are interested, really interested, in what makes another person pause for a moment.  That we collectively gather when there is a intuitive need.  It is when we are open and soft and vulnerable that we connect with other people on a real level.  That we allow them to see us and they allow us to see them.  Women are not afraid to love one another openly and deeply.  A woman’s love for her children is unparalleled in it’s fierceness and equally in it’s softness.

In turn I like that men are physically strong.  That they are made that way to protect us and in protecting us it allows us to remain open and soft.  It’s such a beautiful balance.  I like that men can do stuff that we can’t.  That they can open those bottle tops that simply defy our strength.  That they can carry the things we can’t.  I like it when they step up to do those things.  As the saying goes the three sexiest words a man can say to a woman is ‘I’ve got that’.  I like that they like to do that for us.  That it makes them feel more masculine and the more masculine they are the more feminine we can be.  I like that they are different to us.  It is why we are attracted to one another.

Have you ever watch a man walk into a room full of women.  He will be overcome by a sort of terrified look.  All that powerful softness in one place.  It has a kind of energy to it which the masculine does not understand and he will shrink and flea in haste.  In contrast if a woman walks in to a room full of men, in general all the masculine energy will turn to her and she will soak it up like a great big soft sponge.

There is intense power in a woman’s femininity.  There is such strength in her softness.  It is her openness and softness that raises the children.  On that point there is no more vulnerable or brave moment in a woman’s life than the moment she gives birth.  It is then that she has to become soft and open in a very physical sense otherwise childbirth simply wouldn’t happen.  There is a beautiful and extreme vulnerability in childbirth and yet at the same time it requires a strength that leaves men in awe.  Doesn’t that just sum up a woman.  Childbirth just pushes all that she is to the extreme.  Think about it, in order to give birth to a baby you have to be as open and soft as is physically possible while at the same time being incredibly mentally and physically strong.  It is all rather exquisite because without that combination of softness and strength the human race would not survive.

There is so much strength and power in being open and soft.  If you are closed it is simply a sign that you do not feel strong enough to be open.  That your ego won’t allow you to be vulnerable.   Being soft and tender and open takes bravery and all that bravery makes this world a better place.  Ego does not.  Ego is what we all need to loose.  Don’t mistake ego for pride.  Pride has its place.  Ego has no place in our world.  Ego is the ultimate destructor.

I think we should celebrate our soft nurturing tenderness.  I think we should  celebrate being brave and open and feminine.  If you are open and soft you are vulnerable, but if you are vulnerable you are courageous.  If you are courageous you can be proud.



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