Don't EVER Mistake My Kindness For Weakness

Photo: Serge Bielanko
Make No Mistake: A Sensitive Man Is Not A WEAK Man
Love, Self

We STILL let the idea of sensitivity or emotional vulnerability turn us off.

Modern men are up against the wall. And it's knives out, too. I should know. I'm a man, 44-years-old, and I've been around this fetid block maybe more than you have, trust me.

But lately I've come to realize a harsh reality. 

I've been walking around with a switchblade to my throat for years now. As a guy who tries to be cool and badasss and fit in, I know now that I never really have. And I get why, at least in brief flashes of clarity coming off the knife at my pipe. 

It's funny, man, the sh*t we can learn to live with.

I look in the mirror and sometimes I'm really proud of who I am. Other times, I make me sick. 

I ask myself, "Why are you feeling so much, dude? Why do you have to be this ... this ... this f*cking poster dork for empathy and love and sentiment? Especially when so many guys your age are blissfully ignorant of anything even resembling emotion if it doesn't involve a blow job or a medium-rare porterhouse?"

Why? Why do I wanna fight? For the right... to not party?

Why do I think that maybe fessing up to being kind of soft-hearted could possibly be a good and helpful public proclamation for me? Isn't that the same as asking people to please think of me as weak and sheepish from here on out? 

Why am I ready to admit certain stupid sh*t like this:

I'm the kind of guy who sees an old man standing in the shade, sipping an apple juice, or standing out front the Walmart and immediately wonder how he's dealing with the recent death of Doris, his wife of 62 years.

He looks so tired, I tell myself. He probably needs to talk to someone. 

Then I walk right by him and go get my two rotisserie hormone monsters for my dinner the rest of the week. I don't understand it either. But my mind always immediately focuses in on the stark raving humanity of a situation. Even when I'm probably way off base or whatever. 

I've always been that way, though, ever since I was a little guy.

And although I did lose my softness chip for a while when I was in my 20s and 30s, I feel like I got it back with interest later on. You guessed it: kids. 

Having kids changed me, I know that much. I was way more of your stereotypical angry young man before my daughter came along seven years ago.

But a baby makes a man alter his perspectives. And if it doesn't, then he's not really a man at all. That's kind of how I see it. 

Even so, everyone knows about children and how they tenderize the heart. But what about if you don't have kids? Plenty of people don't and never will, and so what? Does that make them more predisposed to being more emotionally ironclad than moms or dads?

I doubt it. I think it's way more than that. The way you're raised, the schools you've gone to, your experiences in life so far. Your ups. Your downs. How many horrific car accidents you've survived. How many times your heart has been sledge-hammered by some other survivalist, by someone who loved you once upon a time but who ended up kicking your ass to the curb in the name of liberty.

Every day we manage to not get hit by a bus, every day we manage to dodge the Stage 4 pancreatic bomb, we drop to the pillow at night a little bit luckier than we were yesterday. And yet, the algorithms are twisted up.

All of the things that ought to connect somewhere up in the ether never quite manage to soften us in the better ways.

The more most of us live, the more we end up a little bit harder than before.

Life, it turns out, is the thing that kills you in the end

What about the softies, though? Are we weak?

I have to swear to myself 50 times a day that we're not. That I'm not.

I don't think I'm all that much softer emotionally when it comes to dawn-til-dusk living. What I think, or what I suspect at least, is that I'm owning my superpower where a lot of people are denying theirs. And that makes me kind of sad. Because that sucks a summer ass. 

Being soft, being sensitive, those are things to be thankful for. Those ARE superpowers, and I'm sure of it now.

The word "soft" alone, especially if you start flinging it at so-called "manly men," that's usually taken as an insult, isn't it?

If you walk up to a dude and you look him in the eye and say something like, "Hey Bud. I've been watching you from across the bar over there and I just wanna tell you that I'm suspecting you are one soft-hearted critter," you're more than likely going to get your eye popped out of its socket in swift order. 

However, if you waltz up to a man and his glass of beer and you tap him on his shoulder to say something like, "Howdy, partner. I've been observing you from over yonder for a while now. And so I had an inclination to limp over here and tell you to your face that you appear to me to be one hell of a rough, heartless bastard," well, okay, it's 50/50.

You still might get your nasal cavity crushed under the weight of a Harley boot. But you also may end up getting a beer bought for you (depending on how many Ol' Gristle Tits has already had). 

Point is, as a society, as this big, random collective that we always claim to be trying to build upon and improve, we STILL let the idea of sensitivity or emotional vulnerability turn us off. We just do. All of these 21st century do-gooder, organic, mindful, PC Facebook posts and crap, they're all a spit in the stream when you think about how things really are.

Few of us value sh*t that's valuable.

A sensitive teenage boy is an outcast so often that his very existence makes him cliché. A sensitive child is sweet for a spell, until we start worrying about their well-being out in the cruel, cruel world.

We laugh at the idea of a man being soft. It means he's weak. You're soft, you're weak. We want tough. We NEED tough. 

And that, right there, explains precisely why damn near everyone who will cross your path this afternoon is a raging assh*le. 

Or why you are. 

Just sayin'.



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