Week 6 - Man
The other day I had a text conversation with Alan that went like this:
Me: I have bad news love :( Rumi broke your mandala poster (update: I was corrected that it's a *painting*, not a poster) downstairs
Me: Well the poster is fine but the glass is broken
Alan: That’s OK love
Alan: I can’t help but chuckle on the irony of it….the mandala in the Buddhist tradition signifies how nothing in life is eternal….things will be made and will be destroyed, just like how even the most intricate and beautiful mandala drawings are made by sand and then washed away by nature
Alan: Did Rumi hurt himself? Be careful when cleaning up the broken glasses yea
That conversation in a nutshell sums up some of the finest qualities of this guy, whom I learn so much from every day. His patience, calmness, and ability to take life one day at a time, one moment at a time. His kindness towards others when someone wrongs him, whether by accident… or even knowingly. His concern for the people (and animals) he loves. Before he thinks of himself or his stuff, he always thinks of others first.
Another few months ago, we were eating at a fancy restaurant with a few other friends. After excusing himself from the table to use the restroom, Alan returned and we had a conversation that went something like this:
Alan: You should check out the restroom, love.
Me: Oh, okay… why?
Alan: It’s really cool and nice. They even have all kinds of moisturizer and ladies stuff like tampons and all that in a nice basket next to the sink!
I was reminded of this conversation when reading an article about a man who was ranting to a fellow party-goer about the host having put out ladies items in the common bathroom. He said, “Why do I need to see those things? That’s just gross!” Meanwhile, I have a partner who actually notices these things, thinks it’s “cool”, and proceeds to tell me that I should check it out too. What a contrast.
This is a man who rubs his face against cats, gives dogs long belly rubs, has no issues with doing my laundry including putting my delicates into the designated wire nets to keep them from being damaged, cooks better than I do, and puts on face masks after a long week or when he travels. At the same time, this is a guy who is not afraid to stand up to a bully at a bar if needed because he knows he can hold his own if things get rough, can fix almost anything around the house, and lifts heavier weights at the gym than bigger-sized guys.
At a time when the world is so polarized when it comes to what defines a man and masculinity, I am grateful for this man, who reminds me every day that we are not defined by our gender, but by our convictions and behavior. He is someone who is both silly and wise, gentle and tough, playful and responsible, intuitive and practical. These are not opposite traits that are exclusive to men or exclusive to women. They are complementary traits. Some we are born with, some we can cultivate. I’m grateful to be able to journey through life with someone who understands this well.
And, to top things off, he has a wicked sense of humor as well. What’s there not to love?
Me: I read that if you mix in wheat bran with the cat’s food it will make their fur nice and glossy.
Alan: Wahlau, you don’t even feed me wheat bran.
Me: Look, there’s a new chocolate shop! When I was a kid my dream was to become a chocolatier. I played a computer game called Chocolatier. You could make up different chocolate recipes with ingredients from all around the world. And what you get from selling them depends on supply and demand. Prices of things will fluctuate. It’s such a fun game, and you learn economics as well!
Alan (dryly): Yeah, and then you went and did an MBA instead of becoming a chocolatier.