Tribute to A Passionate Father
When I was a young boy my father would call me “sweet” and kiss me just as he would later do with my two sisters and brother born after. He has been a hugger within and outside the family. He wept when we lowered our old collie dog “Rex” into a hand-dug grave in the backyard, the first death in the family. He was visibly moved by tearjerkers on TV.
It was only later that I learned how remarkable these simple facts of my family’s early life were in contrast to the way many other boys grew up and were “handled” or not handled at all.
Even more remarkable when taking into account that my father’s father had abandoned him to a life with a hard working single mother, and a sister vying for attention from that same single parent.
Not a large kid like me (I was already 6’2” by age 14), he became a scrappy street kid on the Depression-era streets of Los Angeles. At 18 he sent away for iron weights and became a body-builder for life winning the title of “Best Back” in the city of Los Angeles in l947.
And he has continued to be very goal driven in building his own commercial rental business after a career in public school and college teaching and administration where he helped thousands of students achieve their potential. Recently he completed yet another college degree resulting from decades of taking Spanish, German and French classes. He says it keeps his brain active.
Still, all my dad's outward musculature and success could not fully protect or subdue the sensitivity of the heart.
In my dad’s era there was not much room for a man to fully own and express his feelings. As a matter of fact it could be quite dangerous to do so in a demanding and often dehumanizing male performance society. And that’s still a fact in many a boy and man’s life today.
But because of my dad’s obvious failure to conceal his pathos and compassion at home, I became the lucky recipient of a bigger picture of what it meant to be male, to be fully human. Today more than ever, I treasure that and the riches it has contributed to my life and life work with women and men. I am blessed with many close men friends from different walks of life. Part of my life’s work is helping us see and realize our full humanity as men, expressing a full range of feelings as we share experiences. And it’s about supporting myself and other men to discover that genuine success is defined by our own internal measuring stick based on our true passions and interests. My dad did the best he could to raise me to follow my dreams despite any of his owned fixed ideas about success and accomplishment.
A few years ago I was also blessed with the discovery of The Passion Test, a simple and powerful process for getting clear about what’s really most important to each of us and living that fully. Not only does it confirm that when I do what I love everyone wins, it confirms what my dad has known all along, when you live your passions you are unstoppable.
Now in his 87th year of manhood, I want to pay tribute to a man living passionately and ahead of his time. As far as I was concerned, right on time. This one’s for you Dad.
I also want to direct my readers to the work of Tony Porter who gave a TED talk on The Man Box. Tony is an African American man and father who speaks directly to the way in which he related to his son until one day…he woke up. Check this link: http://journeytomanhood.blogspot.com/2011/03/man-box-and-boy-code.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheJourneyToManhood+%28The+Journey+To+Manhood%29