May 29, 2010

Movies and “Emotionally Frozen Men”

Just below is a report from a guest contributor describing the film Departures. You can see the trailer for the film at the end of this blog post. This man's contribution is not so much a movie review as a tale about how his life was changed very much for the better as a result of a beautiful film.

Let me know if you can relate to his story.

I just saw the movie Departures about a man in his mid 30's. It’s a beautiful film with great music. It’s about Daigo, a man who had a very distant father who abandoned his family when Daigo was a child.  He also has a very disconnected relationship with his male mentor and is in a marriage without much emotional connection. Daigo is a walking wounded and emotionally lost man who doesn't know he is lost.

What is interesting to me is that if you had asked me seven days ago if I had any father issues, I would have said no. I guess you could say I also have been a walking wounded male, but until this film experience, I was unaware of the depth of my condition.

I knew I was emotionally abandoned by my father. In his first marriage, my father backed out of his driveway during a big storm and accidentally ran over and killed his two year-old son. In his second marriage, when I was born, to keep his pain buried, my father became emotionally frozen. He would never display affection or get close to me, I believe to protect himself the possibility of another loss. As a child I could feel his silent pain, yet never really understood it.

Over the years my father issues have also been silent. I hadn’t realized the degree to which I have taken on my father's emotional programming and also become frozen inside. While I have always assumed I was a “normal” man, sadly, it's clear I have passed on that emotional style to my sons. The saddest thing is that I have always wondered why I felt so distant from my own children. This has been a 39 year puzzle for me.

I will be 65 years old this year, and this film was a big wake-up call for me. I have never connected my father's emotional dots to me, and my children until now. This new awareness of my emotional style has allowed me to start working on changing my behavior toward my two adult sons. What a gift. I recommend this film to you all.

Phil P.

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May 24, 2010

The Harmonica Man

At 71, Andy Mackie is another one of those guys on my heroes list. His life is a great story of how one man's passion can be transformed to positively influence hundreds of young people. Andy is a retired Scottish-born man who probably should have died long ago. But after facing death on more than one occasion owing to a bad heart, he decided to share his personal secret to happiness ... music.

As reported on CBS News Online last December, Andy is the Johnny Appleseed of harmonicas. As you'll see in the video, he's busy inspiring lots of young people to become interested in music. He does that by living out of a motor home and using the money he used to spend for heart medication to pay for harmonicas he gives to kids. He's been at it for 11 years, so far, and has given away 16,000 harmonicas!

If that generosity wasn't enough, Andy is now spending most of his Social Security check to hand craft what he calls Strumsticks. It's a kind of guitar that is easy to learn to play and the kids love it. As part of his ongoing legacy, Andy is even building his own mentoring program by training older kids to teach younger kids to play various instruments.

Andy is a beautiful Elder man, and I hope you find his example as inspirational and motivational as I do. If you would like to support Andy Mackie’s efforts to teach and share music with kids you can do so through the Andy Mackie Music Foundation. You could also just start sharing your gifts with some of the young people around you as Andy has done and see what happens!

If you know someone who should be included in my Man-Making heroes' gallery, please let me know. If the clip doesn't appear use this link.

May 18, 2010

Guys, Gas, and Being a Flatulist

Someone tell me, what is it with young guys and passing gas? When I'm out with the young dudes and, just for fun, let one fly, it is ALWAYS the source of laughs and playful banter. It's as if this capability is a newly discovered toy or competence for a young lad and it doesn't cost anything to play. I'm guessing it's part irreverence, part shock value, some discovery of your amazing bodily functions, and, well, a male thing to do.

If you're good at gas in the boy world, there are even some bragging rights that accrue. One example is a whole blog called fartingforboys by a kid named Eliot. He states he is, Just a guy interested in promoting and critiquing young male flatulist talent. Indeed, it's the best fart site I've come across . . . OK, the only one I found the only time I went looking!

Eliot's site has numerous clips of boys in the act, plus instructions on esoteric skills such as: "How to Fart on Command," and How to "Win a Fart Contest." I loved these instructions on when and when not to fart:

Here's some good times to fart:
  • At the movies (before the movie, not so much during)
  • While playing video games (with the volume down)
  • During sleepovers (when the lights are turned out)
  • On a boring bus ride (just make sure it's really loud)
  • In the locker room at school (the ultimate fartitorium!)
  • Backseat of the car on a long drive
  • In gym or anywhere that echoes (like while stretching) 
  • While walking to school  
  • While swimming (the big bubbles)
Now for some bad times to fart:
  • In the middle of class (teacher won't find it funny)
  • While playing sports/skating...etc.
  • While diving in a pool (no one will notice) 
  • In a restaurant (bad idea) 
  • At a noisy party (not as much fun as you'd think)
  • Anytime in front of a girl you like (they don't like it)

On fartingforboys you can find a survey (very informal we'd presume) that says boys prefer farting to burping %93 to %6. I'm not surprised. There is a great article on why boys fart, which, in a boy way, links farting to the, ". . . primitive and fragile male psyche." You can even go to the Fart Links section of the site where Eliot provides access to the "Fart Button" at Yes, I did go there, and yes it was kinda funny.

In the service of boy humor, and letting this topic leak out every now and then (sorry), I want to support males who have a problem with flatulence. The following video clip describes a new and innovative product that is sure to help with those warm, fragrant, uncontrolled and embarrassing moments. If you think it's gross, well, go hang out with some boys and get your smile back.

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May 11, 2010

The President Gets It!

In the following video clip, Michelle and President Obama are  introducing an addition to the White House mentoring program in honor of National Mentoring  Month (January). This program was the male side of the already in place program for mentoring young women by White House staff. With an estimated 15 million young people in need of mentoring, it is comforting to hear the President of the United States talking about the power of mentoring. 

The President's father left his family home when he was two years old and he was raised by a single mom. In the clip, he describes the "weight" of his father's absence, and life without him around. I believe that at a personal level, he really does get the importance of having men present in the lives of young males, as he says to, "steer them straight." Men who will, "refuse to give up on them, even when they want to give up on themselves."

I also like how he describes not just the costs under-male-nourished boys experience, but the impact all of us experience, as a country, because of lost boys. The President speaks the truth when he says, it doesn't take much to, "make a big, lasting impact in the life of a young person." This is critical leadership for a movement that, as Michelle says, can make a difference in countless number of lives.

You can check out the website President Obama mentions, or just look around you. I'm pretty sure there is a young guy in your world right now who'd love a little attention from you.

I don't know or care about your political leanings, but I do hope you'll vote with your actions and have a positive interaction with a young male today.

May 5, 2010

Should You Risk It?

To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and
dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because
the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing, is nothing.

William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)