I once met a man who was incredibly sensitive – he felt all that was wrong with the world, but took it to heart. When he sensed too much he’d get angry and hard, then bash himself for his behaviour. He sought refuge in music, design, nature and craft and poured his heart into making things perfect.

But no matter how he devised his environment, other people always came and disturbed it. He took this as a confirmation that the world was doomed and that on some level he was not enough. He died, a sweet and sparkly man, still at odds with the chaos and harshness he could feel in our lands, fighting the unkindness of life right to the end.

This man was my Dad.

All men are super sensitive. They feel emotional hurt just like any woman does. Men ought to admit this instead of building fortresses that suppress the fact.

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 558

I once met a man who was extremely talented, ambitious and a prolific writer too. He studied philosophy, completed a Phd and impressed people with his forceful points of view. I made myself his acolyte, giving him an audience for any speech he cared to make. I listened to his latest poetry and made appreciative noises as if it was delicious cake. I brushed over the moments where he called women whores and laughed nervously at his graphic murder stories. I did what I could to make him feel good and went dancing and drinking, whenever he declared himself in the mood. One day I realised the false way I had behaved in order to hide and seek comfort in this gentleman’s company, so rather than be vulnerable and open up to him about this, I cut off all our communications.

I once met a man who told the truth, even when the truth was not comfortable nor welcome. I was looking to him to tell me the truth, when the truth was I already knew the answer. This man lives with integrity like no other I have met. He treated me like everyone he knew – with absolute delicacy and honour. There was no specialness or favouritism, just honesty. No matter the adversity or situation he was in, he found space to address my smallest concern and those of many others too. No matter what occurred he held me as his equal and kept reminding me of my power and what I am here to bring to the world. We had very few personal exchanges but those that we did have, radically transformed my life.

Just the way this tender man lives and carries himself, made a huge impression on me; for eternity.

I once met a man who asked me to share his house, and when I said yes, he bought one. He built things with his hands but his real project was establishing love with his fellow man. Cut him and it seems to me he would bleed brotherhood from his veins – no task, favour or request was too much for this lion-hearted gentleman. When I was down he didn’t try to fix me up, but just backed me 100 percent in whatever I wanted to do next. No matter the hurts or pains I was going through, he always saw past all of this stuff to the tender man I truly am. This man followed his impulses naturally and just by being himself helped me marry the love of my life, when I wanted to walk the other way. He would be ever ready to wrap his arms around me for a hug or to cook and share a meal and when we talked it was simple and short.

Perhaps we could have said more – we were both just learning to open up to another, but in his holding presence and warm-hearted care this true man already said so much if you truly listened.

Once I met a man who was joyful and bright, a bundle of Love at first sight. But when he realised that others around were not being the same, he decided to dull himself down and attempt to blend in. He got angry and upset and declared life unfair, and sought attention by misbehaving. Gradually he found the fights too draining to sustain so settled instead for acquiescing and being a ‘nice guy’. He sought relief in music, art and filling his head with football talk. He struggled to accept his own body and thought an operation would take the pain away. Yet it only served to do the opposite. But when he met the man who told the truth (mentioned above) his whole approach to life was changed – for he allowed him to see that he had never really met himself, had he?

The more this man allows and accepts everything he feels, ignores the old harsh voices inside his head and supports himself, the more his life is blossoming. Today he is a tender man free to say to another man “I value you and what you bring in life, let’s make space to connect free of a project, goal or sporting event” without worrying about rejection. In all the busyness of life this man is starting to see what we as men need more than ever is love, connection and honesty, with ourselves and with each other. What if after all we are not the lone wolves we’ve thought ourselves to be, but stepping stones, true friends, here to help each other home? This man is opening up to this possibility. This man is me.

What if our biggest job in life is to care for ourselves, free from terms and conditions? If we did not shirk this responsibility at such a young age, then perhaps we would not be so incarcerated in needing other people to act or be a certain way in order for us to be ok.

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  • By Joseph Barker

    To sketch, paint and question life. To cook, laugh and wonder why. To hug, hum and appreciate the sky, to look into another's eyes. These are some of the reasons Joseph loves life and is inspired to contribute to this amazing site.

  • Photography: Matt Paul