Growing up as a young man in the eighties and nineties I was fascinated by the strong, silent leading man type of character I saw in movies. I was quite a movie fan and I enjoyed spending much of my indoor time watching shows on television from the early black and white movies that featured John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Kirk Douglas among many others.
Whether it was a medieval story like Spartacus with Kirk Douglas leading a valiant effort to fight for freedom, or John Wayne protecting damsels in distress, they used their actions to speak for them, and they were the epitome of strength; they were the heroes of their day.
As time ticked forward I grew in to a young man and started to go to the cinema, or movie theatres, more often. The leading characters started to shift to more modern leading men like: Clint Eastwood as he transitioned from westerns and the Dirty Harry character to an adventurous modern day leading man in Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and a military elite in Firefox (1982), Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator series (1984+), and Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series (1988+).
The movie trend didn’t just show conflict in dramatic fashion, it also started to include humour and there are many examples of Arnold and Bruce quipping to the bad guys. Situational humour started coming more mainstream with Beverly Hills Cop and Romancing the Stone, both of 1984. So a humorous, strong, relatively quiet leading man was really the ‘cherry on top’ of the leading character in my eyes.
In these times, I really believed everything that I saw. As I look back, there wasn’t any reason to think that a man that listened to his senses, that showed his feelings, that broke out of the mould I had witnessed since I was a young child, could be just a capable, strong, and charismatic; but maybe I just didn’t watch those movies.
To me, as a youth, I believed that in order to grow in to become a strong man I had to epitomize strength, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. This meant that showing emotions and feelings were viewed as a sign of weakness; a lack willpower and control.
Certainly there were other role models, like my stepdad, who also portrayed much about the strong, vastly intelligent, action oriented man. My mother, who gave much of her heart to anyone who needed a lift or any help at all, but my focus was film. That’s where my imagination flew, my intention started, and my attention fuelled my desire to be the iconic representation of what a real man was. Poor me!
Let’s just say that character influences I grew up with as a young man didn’t serve me so well in my early ‘real’ relationships. The strong silent type never gave me clues on how to address conflict in a marriage, didn’t show me how to deal with my conflicting senses when my gut said one thing and my mind another, and my heart yet something different. I was pretty much clueless, and I felt like a person who just realized all they really knew about being a person was a lie.
This was the start of my journey to search my feelings, to slowly, very slowly in fact, find my voice and reconnect with who I really was.
I say reconnect because when we are young kids, we are who we think. We portray our emotions quite candidly on our face and in our eyes. It’s only after we start to hurt, that we begin to protect ourselves from that experience again and hide how we really feel to others.
It’s taken me decades now to uncover the strength and beauty of understanding the power of knowing your self. Not just the mindful self, but the emotional, feeling, bodily self that makes up a vast array of senses that remain attuned to the environment around us.
Science has been able to uncover some of the mysteries of the environment that we see and that goes to our head. First, light enters our eyes and that information is delivered to our brain, then our brain deciphers a very small percentage of what we see and passes that info on to our mind; there is simply too much information to decipher it all at once. Then our mind, which is the sense of self inside our brain, attaches meaning to what it sees. (read Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen for more details)
This is the information we typically make decisions with, but we are still missing a host of other real data. Naturally, what our mind sees creates a biochemical reaction within our body. This reaction to the five senses of our head is but a small part of the real environment, but our body, with it’s blanket of nerves cells sensing minute changes in the air, temperature, vibrations, and energy that we don’t ‘see’, but we can feel, holds enormous stores feeling related information.
If you want to see a real scientific study in to what vibrations that came from thoughts did to water crystals, just look at this video that documents Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiments. Here is his website.
Have you ever met a person your were keenly attracted to for no apparent reason? How about the opposite; a person that repulsed you, that you felt in danger from, that you wanted to stay away from? Was that immediacy of your feeling from some visual cue, or a gut reaction?
Many times we may think about our past and sense a disconnect between what we felt, and the decision we made. “My gut has always been right” we might say to ourselves, and I have often felt that way.
No matter what we might see in popular movies, television or any other media, we need to understand that the strong, silent type of character is a myth. It is a character type that takes in what we see and hear and applies supreme importance to them alone. It forgets about all that other information the body has to share. It dismisses it, and for that, it is shallow, judgemental, quick to react, and substantially naive about the environment that surrounds us. In fact, it is a weakness.
When we understand hat information in today’s world can be loosely translated to power, why would we want to disconnect from the access to information our body willingly gives us?
This is OUR body after all trying to communicate to OUR brain. Why would we want to stop it? It wants to serve us, to protect us, to tell us what it found out.
We need to understand the nature of communicating with our body in such a way to become aware of the response to visual stimuli, and accept the information that it senses itself, the vibration from other people, the ‘sixth sense’ we receive in the form of our gut feeling.
This isn’t like the ‘voice’ we hear telling us to not do something in our heads, that is a form of the mind that tries to warn us that there is a significant gap between our upcoming decision and the action we are contemplating.
Now, we can be fooled if we listen to everything we hear from our body. Certainly that chocolate looks good, and maybe one more slice if pizza would mmmmm, just be divine! But that’s a part of the body that has collaborated with the rational fast talking sly aspect that wants to give us all we desire, and will find all the ways to justify it.
What I’ve learned over the last 30+ years is that strength comes not from your muscles, not from your actions, but from the words you say, from the time you take to listen, and from the feelings you can discern that connect you to the immense and powerful universe.
The idea and icons of strength, power, charisma, and heroism are changing from the popular movie characters to real flesh and blood manifestations of holistic beings, like Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama.
Those that espouse the mind-body-spirit connection are heralded as leaders in a new world, like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, Joe Dispenza, Bruce Lipton, Tony Robbins, Wane Dyer, and many others.
I for one am glad that I have finally become settled in what I define as a strong, powerful, leading man, and it has very little to do with the image that I grew up with, and everything to do with how I make people feel, and how I feel. Thank goodness we can break free from our past perceptions and create a new perspective that aligns with wherever we find our true centre, our natural inclination, and source of joy and peace.