Tag Archives: individual

Defining Beauty

I’ve been thinking about beauty lately, because this is my purpose, to show people there is still beauty in this world, to show them how to feel again. Yet how can I do that if I don’t have a good definition of beauty. Something which has qualities which are pleasing or satisfying is too broad, it lacks definition, so I wondered how to refine this definition.

I’ve always been able to see beautiful things, even when the night is darkest, especially because the night is beautiful in its own way. I don’t know what makes me different, why I find it hard to hate, why I can’t disconnect myself enough to see the ugly.

I was looking at a photo of the night sky as I was thinking this, looking at a photo of something most would consider beautiful, yet how many monsters have people imagined living in the dark of night. What is the difference between the night in the photo and the night where monsters live? So in wondering why I couldn’t disconnect myself to hate I had my answer, or at least a part of it.

You see I think beauty is the opening of a connection to the things that please us. It is an illumination of the things we find most satisfying. When we see a photo of the stars above we feel connected to how vast the universe is, we feel connected to the light shining on the world around us. When we don’t bother to look up, when all we know is darkness we aren’t connected. The feeling of being alone and pointless, disconnected, is so overwhelming the mind finds it better to imagine monsters to be connected with than nothing at all, at least monsters give us a purpose, to run and hide.

It’s easy to find beauty in the normal things, a pretty face, an idyllic scene, and children playing. These things connect us to health, vitality, life, the world, freedom from responsibility. We understand these things subconsciously. We can’t help but look at a masterpiece and feel connected to each and every brush stroke, the creativity and imagination that went into its design. Yet there is so much more beauty in the world.

We show stories of the evil miners and their sites of devastation, so much ugly they created. Yet I can’t always see that. Sometimes I am amazed at life, how tenacious and unstoppable it is. I see the life at the edges of this ugly. I see the weeds and the grass fighting the toxic soil with the sole purpose of brining more life after it. Little by little it edges it way towards the center of the mine site, never stopping, relentless. I feel connected to the edge of these mine sites, connected to very primal nature of life. Life took this world from volcanoes and acid oceans to what we have today. It connects me to hope that what we destroy may be undone, what we tear down can be rebuilt. Is this not beautiful?

We see story after story of toxic people, ugly people, people who are different from us somehow, male or female, Muslim or Christian, black or white. They tell me I should be afraid of these people, that they will change our way of life. I don’t watch enough TV to keep track of the people I am supposed to hate next, but that’s not what I see anyway. I see a man who has walked from Ethiopia to Pakistan after the military shot his brother, I see a woman who gives an incredible amount of time to those no one listens too, I see people afraid, in love, sad, happy, hurt, alone and in leading groups. How can I not feel connected to these people, they are like me. Are they not beautiful? How can I hate what is like me, that would be like hating myself and I know I am beautiful.

I don’t know how to connect people with the beauty around them yet, how to connect them with the feelings these things invoke. I see it in everything around me; I see it in buttons, power lines, raindrops, machinery, mathematics and more. I don’t know why I can see the connections in all these things but I hope one day I can teach others how to see more in the world around them. It’s really hard to hate something you feel connected to. I’ll work it out one day but for the moment all I can do is illuminate one beautiful thing at a time and hope others can see the connections I see. I have part of my definition of beauty now, it’s a start, one small step on my journey.

Image thanks to Jason Jenkins

Have You Seen a Man’s Heart?

Have you seen a man’s heart? Have you glimpsed the depth of emotion and feeling that lies within? I don’t think you have, not truly. You may look at the men of the world and think they are cold unfeeling brutes, to all outward appearances you would be right. A man’s heart is a very dangerous thing, it must be tamed, it must be controlled and at all costs it must be hidden from this world. The very fabric of society would be rent if men were allowed to use their hearts. Every stage of a man’s life our society is bent on ensuring a man’s heart is contained, it’s written so in our fairy tales, in our stereotypes, in our media and in our very thoughts. It is with good reason this must be so and if you feel you have seen a man’s heart be cautious and seek help, for that is a problem that must be resolved.

A man’s heart is a very dangerous thing.

Have you seen a little boy’s heart? So shiny and bright with hopes and dreams for the future, there is nothing this boy can’t do. His heart, so small and yet so large, big enough to feel all the ills and pain in the world around him and small enough to heal quickly. Big enough to show him courage and bravery, to take risks and overcome that which scares him yet tiny enough to be a fragile thing. The world is such a beautiful place to this boy, so wide and large and always another hill to see what lies on the other side. But men do not cry. When such things as a boys tears are loosed upon the world they must be shackled, controlled and converted; competition is the only outlet suitable for that which fills a boy’s heart. He must play societies game and learn how to win the acceptable prizes in life. If you see a boys heart prepare your shackles because such a sight cannot be left unaddressed.

Have you seen a teenage boy’s heart? Full of motion and action, he rebels at the constraints laid upon him and the world is his yet to change. So quickly does he grow, so fast does he see the world for what it is. We fill his mind with tales of knights, dragons and princesses but this is our snare. Oh so carefully do we divert him form learning the truth, that first he must learn to love himself; that love must come from within and it isn’t a prize to win. But men must not touch. At a time when a teenage boy begins to learn of love this should be stymied, strangled and bound. He is a rapist, a pillager, a plunderer and a monster; he will not know the boundaries such needs should have. He may want a simple hug from his mother, an embracing bond between his fellow man and a kiss from his first love but these he cannot have. He can never be trusted with such freedom for he does not know how dangerous he is. If you see a teenage boy’s heart prepare your bindings because such actions cannot go unchecked.

A man with passion cannot be trusted to act in the interests of everyone else.

Have you seen a man’s heart? So slow and sluggish, but oh so strong. With shackles and bindings, still it yet beats. Somehow he maintains his purpose and passion. He is capable of such great things, marvels beyond compare, wonders that never cease. But men must not show weakness. Such willfulness must be enclosed, corralled and caged; a prison in his own mind with bars forged of honor, duty and responsibility. Pain, uncertainty, fear, sadness, inaction and distress have no place in a man for how can we charge him with his roles if we believe him to be human. He must be the first to step in front of danger to protect those he loves, the first to sacrifice himself to provide for his family, the first to bear the pain of ill winds. There is nothing a man should not dare for honor, duty and responsibility and a man with passion cannot be trusted to act in the interests of everyone else. If you see a man’s heart unfettered and free, run.

If you see a man whose heart is free, flee as far and as fast as you can because an encounter with this man will leave you forever changed. A man whose heart is truly free is the most dangerous thing in existance; he is a dreamer, a visionary, an idealist. This is a man who still sees all that is good in the world; he will shine a light on all that you find dim and dark and show you the beauty that lies underneath. This is a man who believes he can make the world a better place; he will touch you with his love for this world and you will believe also that the world can be changed. This is a man who burns with a passion so deep it cannot be extinguished; a man who creates miracles and makes his very dreams come true. Flee because this is a man who has learned to love himself.

Originally posted at the Good Men ProjectHave You Seen a Man’s Heart?

Photo: Flickr/Juliana CoutinhoImage altered

Hope, Beauty and Wonder

We look out at the world today and it can be hard to see the beauty and wonder in the world. Our media delights in highlighting the chaos and disorder. Our politician like to pretend they are our loving parents there to protect us from all the demons in the world. You could be forgiven for thinking beauty and wonder are fleeting and unnatural things, that our natural state should be that of fear and insecurity because there is no hope for this world.

The truth is that beauty and wonder do very much exist in this world. It’s the sunlit dew on the grass on a winters morning. It’s the smile a girl has when her lover crosses her mind. It’s the innocent laughter of a child. It’s the book a husband picks up because he knows his wife likes the author. It’s a teenager madly brushing their hair before their first date. It’s a friend who is there when you least expect it. Beauty and wonder are rarely big things, it’s only the ego of powerful passionate people who try to create beautiful and wonderful objects on an epic scale but for most of us mere mortals beauty and wonder exist in the spaces between the dark.

If you have heard the story of Pandora’s box you will know that when Pandora opened the box she let out all the evils, devils if you will, in the world, sickness, death, chaos, destruction and anything that rides the front page of a newspaper. As they left the box these evils stung her and hurt her. The story continues though because when she looked again hope was left in the box and out it flew curing her pain. The myth of Pandora does not go into how hope could cure her wounds, but I know. Hope has two hands, and in one hand there is beauty and in the other wonder.

Zeus in his godly arrogance forgot one universal truth when he put all the evil in a box and that was that the universe demands balance, always. In putting evil in a box he created hope. All that ugly evil carrying despair and pain, it can’t exist in the absence of it’s opposite, it can’t even be defined without it’s opposite. So hope, carrying beauty and wonder in each hand, was born. Even though Pandora was hurt and stung by this evil it’s opposite was there too. When she opened the box again hope flew out and her hurts and pain were healed.

There is another lesson in Pandora’s story, hope can not exist in the absence of evil. We have a tendency as people to try and capture hope and keep it locked away. To take beauty and wonder and keep it for ourselves but that wont work. In the absence of evil Hope, beauty and wonder wither and fade. They become meaningless without the evil they helped cure. Hope, beauty and wonder shouldn’t be caged or boxed. They need to be held up high and shown to the world so they can grow and reach others who need healing.

If you have found hope in your life, holding beauty and wonder, it is up to you to raise it high. It is up to you when you find people who are trapped in the dark, having faced the evils of the world and unable to see the light, to show them hope, to show them that beauty and wonder still exist. To let hope beauty and wonder heal their wounds. Hope, beauty and wonder are often small things, but the most powerful things in life often are. In the end the only thing needed to balance, to cure, the evils in this world is hope, holding beauty and wonder in its hands.

Photo: Flickr/Michael Hensmann

Have You Ever Been Lost In The Dance?

Have you ever been lost in the beat, just bopping to the rhythm, in time with the beat? Feet following, left and right, as time marches at a measured pace, no destination and no past, just the journey, only the journey. Have you felt this beat reverberate, starting from your chest, from the heart, as it pumps it way up down through your legs and up in your head? Your body swaying left and right, as movement sways forwards and back, no designs and no plans, just the motion, only the motion. Have you ever been lost in the beat, lost in this endless progression where time and motion stand still yet never stop moving? Isn’t it the most glorious thing you can do?

Have you felt this melody tingle, starting from your spine flowing out along every nerve

Have you ever been lost in the melody, just flowing with the consonance, everything aligning in accord? Fingers moving, up, down and right, as action and consequence flows in a smooth order, no shudder and no shake, only beautiful curves. Have you felt this melody tingle, starting from your spine flowing out along every nerve, a rightness that is simply divine? Your body needs neither guidance nor direction, as hips follow thoughts, no direction and no compass, just passion, only the passion. Have you ever been lost in the melody, lost in this endless ocean where action follows consequence follows action and every direction is as meaningful as another? Isn’t it the most sublime thing you can do?

Have you ever been lost in the harmony, achieving synchronicity with all that’s around, heart and mind bound? Hands and feet attuned, back and forth, as purpose finds it place, no target and no goal, just the dream, only the dream. Have you felt the blissful peace in this harmony, starting from your fingers and toes as your legs arms and chest slowly relax? Your body slowly unwinding, uncoiling and unbending, as will and hope resolve, no wishes and no schemes, just aspirations, only your aspirations. Have you ever been lost in the harmony, lost aspiring to a single overriding purpose where dreams, will and hope converge into one? Isn’t it the most transcendent thing you can do?

Have you ever been lost in the form, knowing that the song is so much greater than the notes, a single soul found? The spirit soars, around and around, rhythm, melody and harmony combine, no parts and no details, just the dance, only the dance. Have you felt the form take hold, a deep knowing that all is bound together, connected and inseparable? There is no stopping or ending, as music, dance and life are one, no dissonance or discord, just the dance of life, only the dance of life. Have you ever been lost in the form, lost because you are the form, not a part nor separate but you are the music, the dance and it is life? Isn’t it the most alive you have ever felt?

Shall we surrender ourselves to this dance?

Have you lost yourself in your life, felt the rhythm between night, day, weeks and years. The motion of your feet you journey through life knowing you will never stop. Can you feel it, is not your life glorious. Have you lost yourself in your life, felt the melody of every action and inaction where any direction you pick flows perfectly into the next. Can you feel it, is your life not the sublime consequence of your every passion. Have you lost yourself in the harmony of those around you, shared your hopes and dreams as they have with you. Can you feel it, is it not the most transcendent thing to know that you are not alone. Have you lost yourself in your life, knowing that your family, your friends, your community form this world and the dance between everyone turns this very planet? Can you feel it, this is life, your life, my life, our lives. Shall we live it together? Shall we surrender ourselves to this dance?

Originally published at Good Men ProjectHave You Ever Been Lost In The Dance?

Photo: Flickr/Samuel John

What it Takes to See a Man’s Feelings

They say that men don’t feel; that we are stoic, strong and reserved; that we hide our own feelings so we can play games with the feelings of others. The media says we do, it must be true. Cultural stereotypes say we do, it must be true. Some women think it’s true. Some men will try and convince you it’s true. Yet the truth is a fickle thing handed a mask and told to be what it is not. It struggles to break free of the act it must play and punished with shame when the mask is loosed. It is misunderstood and maligned in its natural form, yet praised and glorified when bent and twisted into something unrecognizable. The truth is that we feel, we feel a lot, we feel the same things women feel and we feel them to the same intensity. Yet our role is different, we are the protectors, the providers and the pillars of strength. While we are put in these roles how can we be the defenseless? How can we be the ones cared for? How can we be the sail that needs a tether in a storm? We know we cannot fill two opposing roles so we remain strong, stoic and reserved because that is all that is allowed us.

We are bound by our feelings to act, to solve, to resolve. This is what marks us as different from women, that which is most often complained about is our tendency to fix, but these are our feelings shining through and you sometimes misunderstand us as much as we sometimes misunderstand you. Our feelings are problems which need to be overcome and fixed. This we have learnt from our past, from our peers, from our parents, from the very culture we live and breathe. We learn that our actions are suspect and our decisions while feeling are unwise, so we hide them from ourselves and the world around us. Our bodies when young course with testosterone making us more likely to aggress, to take risks, to take initiative, to dominate and to become more anti-social. Our feelings, intertwined in this hormonal cocktail, we must learn to curtail, to control and to focus. These feelings ride side by side with testosterone and you can’t control one without controlling the other. A decade or more we spend achieving this balance between wisdom, feeling and action yet at the end we still do not trust our feelings. This is because after a decade or more to us the loss of emotional regulation is loss of choice, loss of deliberate focused action and loss social standing.

Women want us to show our feelings yet sometimes misunderstand the perspective we have on feelings. Woman like romance, a feeling of excitement, mystery and feeling special yet to us this requires action, something with a solution so we will buy her flowers, take her to a special restaurant and make an effort to make her feel special. We do not always understand that women do not necessarily want the actions; women want the showing, the looks, the attention, the allure that comes with a man focused solely on them. In the end women can feel as if their feelings are being bought and we can feel as if our efforts are for naught, neither understanding that each other’s feelings are mutual yet simply expressed differently. When women show us their feelings, when they cry, or hurt or are upset they want someone to join them in their discomfort, to understand what they feel, to empathize. When we hear a women’s pain we do empathize, we do understand but we don’t show that we do. We see your hurt and feel it inside and we want to make it stop, we don’t want you to hurt and so we want to act, we want to fix the hurt so we offer solutions instead. So women can think we are not listening and we can think we are not being taken seriously, neither of us understanding that each other’s feelings are mutual yet simply expressed differently.

We are capable of showing our feelings but there must be trust, and there must be strength. We must trust that we will not lose social standing with you, and we do lose social standing because too many women see it as a sign of weakness. We must trust that you will not use our feelings against us, and we do have our feelings used against us because too many women are far better at wielding our feelings like weapons against us. Strength, it is not men who need strength; it is women who need strength because we will not show our feelings to someone incapable of absorbing them and showing us that those feelings can be understood. If you do not have the strength to be unafraid of our fears, our insecurities or the strength to bear witness to our pain and grief we will hide them. When you ask us what we are feeling, when you ask for us to show our emotions you are asking us to lose control. You are asking us to forgo decades of control. You are asking us to no longer act but to release. We cannot do that unless we know you have the strength to bring us back.

If you want us to open up it cannot be done by asking us to share, it will not happen that way. We have far too many years of control under our belt to simply let go in that way, we simply can’t. If you want us to open up then you will need to prove to us that you are the stronger. Join us in our actions as we mindlessly chop 1000 logs for firewood we don’t need, ask us how we plan to solve our problems. Understand that our solutions are just words, they are not actions but the intent to solve the problem of our feelings. Our feelings are hidden, even from ourselves, but we know deep down that we have the need to act, to do and to plan. If you help us in our actions and planning and guide us, steer us away from unwise decisions, we will see that you have the strength to listen. As we talk through our plans and actions slowly will our feelings become clear, even to ourselves, and if you are by our side you will see them too.

Originally published at Good Men ProjectWhat it Takes to See a Man’s Feelings

Photo: Flickr/Sara

There is No Path to Find Yourself

When I looked inside, the person I wanted to be had never existed, I had to create him, not find him.

 —

Find yourself, find the path to happiness, think positive thoughts, ask and the universe will provide, let your inner child free and just be yourself. I see these memes, I hear them said and I can’t help but think there is something I am missing. These sayings come across as so empty, bubble symbols, they look so pretty and rainbow hued on the outside yet so fragile when they meet reality and completely empty when they burst. I tried to live in a world where those sayings were true but life kept busting those thoughts faster than I could construct them. Yet life required my presence and I needed another way. You see I didn’t find myself, find a path or positively think my way to a brighter future. I had to create myself little piece by little piece and it was hard, damn hard. Like Yin and Yang light had to be merged with dark to spin, not grey, but a person of vibrant color.

I had to create a child of contradiction within myself. A kid of immature maturity, a kid who can see the fun in life yet see it between the moments of seriousness. To strive and capture and create those in-between times of gleeful abandon. A child who believes in the fantastically real, a child that sees dragons, knights, spaceships and magic in the world around but yet knows this is all created in my imagination. These things are my dreams, my creations and my stories just begging to be told. A little one who exists in a moment between forever’s, a little one who can be lost in the present but doesn’t forget his past nor forgets to look to the future. I created this dear child of mine and in the contradiction I have created I now grow.

I had to create a youth of paradox within myself. An adolescent with goalless purpose, an adolescent who set aside the goals society deems acceptable and become driven by a single burning purpose. To wear that purpose like a comforting cloak. A teen with calm passions, a teen that can take turbulent troubled waters and create the most serene mountain vista in a story of wonder. To show the world that there is still beauty in this world. A young man with naive idealism, a young man who can look at the world around and see its darkness yet also acts to change it for the better one little piece at a time. He knows that that the world is worth saving. I created this energetic youth of mine and in the paradox I have created I now mature.

I had to create a man who is an enigma within myself. An adult who is an unassuming giant, an adult who quietly achieves all he sets out to achieve yet does it for his own gratification and not for the approval of others. A grownup who is a negative optimist, a grownup who sees failure as a step on the road to success yet can coldly evaluate all that did not go as planned. Unrestrained negativity or unbridled optimism will lead to unrealistic expectations but tempered together they create a path of growth. A gentleman of roguish honor, a gentleman who has principals but will set them aside when the world requires it but he will always honor his word, especially those said to himself. I created this solid man and the enigma I have created I now become wise.

I had to create a conundrum of an elderly man. A graybeard who is an uneducated scholar, a graybeard who carries more wisdom than most ever learn yet understands how little he knows. An oldie who faces forward to look at his past, an oldie that uses his past as a map to things he has yet to see and experience. Because how can you find the unknown if you don’t know where you’ve been. A worn out man who is a defenseless fighter, a worn out man who has been cut down so many times yet he knows deep in his heart that he never gives in, never gives up and he will always grow taller, stronger and wiser because he doesn’t rely on strength, no, he relies on resilience. I created this elderly man and the conundrum he represents is my masterpiece.

There is a furnace that burns in the space between contradiction, paradox, enigma and conundrum and this is my guiding fire. I use this furnace to forge myself anew and create a person of wonder and beauty. I chose this path but it is not an easy path. Those fires, they hurt. For every day I must face my deepest fears, burn them away, and as those fires burn I am left with no protection, naked and vulnerable to the world. Yet as I stand naked, singed and blistered I see the world differently. No longer do my fears and insecurities obscure and cloud my vision and what I see now dazzles my eyes. This is life and oh boy is it worth living.

There is No Path to Find Yourself

Photo: Flickr/Martin Fisch

I Wish I Could Show You What I See

I wish I could show you what I see. There is so much that is ugly in this world, our media is full of death and destruction, our blogs are filled with hatred and outrage and our leaders are consumed with it. But the world is full of so much more, there is so much wonder and beauty in this world to which mostly goes unnoticed. Mostly these are the little things, things we see every day, but they are there if you look, if you just open your eyes. For every horrible act, for every death, there are 100’s, nay 1000’s of these beautiful things, wondrous things, amazing things but we pass them by giving them no more thought than we would a crack in the pavement. If I could show you what I see you would understand it’s the ordinary which is extraordinary.

I wish I could show you what I see. I pass an empty block, neighbors begging for it to be trimmed and manicured — but that isn’t what I see. I see a beautiful structure to the disorder, nature telling the arrow of time “Screw You” and that life does not succumb easily to chaos. I see knee length grass growing where the water pools after a shower, I see weeds with such tenacity growing from concrete, flown in from miles around in the stomachs of birds. I see flowers blooming where once there was landfill. I see the bees and the insects, entire ecologies existing where once there was nothing. I see the leftover husks of native fruit left as fertilizer by bats and possums and in the decaying remains small shoots of trees yet to be. If I could show you what I see you would understand that disorder is not chaos. That what life creates isn’t haphazard but built for the single purpose of living. That squares and circles and edges are far too simple a pattern to hold all that life needs to build.

I wish I could show you what I see. I pass an abandoned factory, developers trying to tear it down in the name of progress. The sheer irony brings me to a smile to my face, for was this factory not the height of progress 80 years ago with its mass production technologies. The elegance in the way it was designed and constructed. Raw goods in one entrance, the snake like conveyor belt that once passed through advanced machinery inside and finally finished goods all boxed and ready on the exit. The friends and families that must have worked and lived in this building, the lunch time gatherings, the Friday afternoon drinks. I can see these memories as plain as day, as well as the back breaking labor and flare ups between workers. But progress is like life and change is inevitable, the death of the old and the birth of the new. It doesn’t mean the new is better or worse, it’s just new and it will be what it wants to be. If I could show you what I see you would understand that life is built from life, that while greatness can be achieved in giant leaps it is also achieved on the bones of what has passed before. That the very methods developed by mass production are now used to build the parts for the office building which will replace the factory.

I wish I could show you what I see. I meet people every day, for some reason they open up to me, I’ve never known why. They are endlessly fascinating these people, they come from poverty, or pain, disaster or heartbreak and I hear how much they struggle, I hear the pride in their voices of how far they have come and how difficult the journey has been. I hear how much they want to change and also change the world around them. Some hurt so much but I hear the fighter in them, I can see their courage. I can see how much each and every one is capable of. At the same time my heart breaks for these people yet it’s made whole by the soul that shines out from within. If I could show you what I see you would understand that everybody’s story is important, that everyone needs to tell their tale because sometimes you can only see the meaning and reason for your life’s story when you have the courage to say it out loud.

I wish I could show you what I see in you dear reader. I see the walls you build from fear to hide away from the world. It’s written in the way you act and speak but I see past that. I see the garden that lies behind those walls, this garden you think is disorderly, that you can never seem to manicure and trim. It’s an amazing garden full of life, beauty and wisdom and it’s not supposed to be manicured or trimmed. Everything in it was grown for the sole purpose of your life; it’s far too complex a garden to put boxes around it. I see the abandoned factory from your childhood behind this garden, once so new and full of hope and vision but abandoned somewhere in ages gone past. I can see that you want to redevelop it and I see the dreams waiting to be drafted. Reach for those dreams, they are such amazing things. I can read your story as we talk; you have more courage than you think you do. It’s an epic tale full of sadness, love, loss and friends. It’s your story, it is who you were and as I read your story and understand the shoes you have been wearing how could I not be amazed by what I hear. If I could show you what I see in you dear reader then you would understand that you are wonderful, beautiful and amazing.

Originally posted at the Good Men Project
I Wish I Could Show You What I See

Photo: Flickr/[AndreasS]