Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inner Beauty, Masculinity and Feminity

Today my youngest son, Teller, is 39 years old. He knew I'd be mentioning him in this article. I told him it's his birthday present.

I remember clearly the first time I held him in my arms. It was a special moment. Now he's the genius who creates the magical programs sold by my company world-wide.

When he was a teenager, he came to me for fatherly advice. Another special moment. Dads really like that.

"What's masculinity, Dad?" he asked.

Oh my god. A hard one. I sensed that he asked because he wanted to be considered masculine. This was one I couldn't afford to screw up. I paused a couple extra beats to let my brain figure out what to say.

Here's what I said...

"Well, it doesn't have anything to do with how you look, your clothes or anything like that. Also, it doesn't have to do with being tough or sexy. Real masculinity has to do with who you are - whether you're the kind of guy who'll do the right thing and the hard thing. You could be a kung-fu wizard or a rock star, but it wouldn't mean anything if you were a liar, uncaring, impatient, self-centered, or weak in any of a couple dozen other ways. The same holds true of women. Once you get to know them, their beauty doesn't count for beans if they aren't good and strong as a person."

Speaking of feminine beauty, check this out:

Need I say more? The physical aspect of masculinity or femininity has its charms, yes. But beauty really is only skin-deep. Less than skin-deep. Make-up deep. Physical perceptions are eventually superseded by what you learn about a person. The more you get to know her, the more you learn what's really beautiful about her. And it ain't the cheekbones or the make-up. It has to do with how good and strong she is as a person.

The same holds true for men. The real action has to with inner beauty. Personal strength.

But back to my son's question.

I'm pretty sure my answer wasn't the kind of answer he was expecting or hoping for. No doubt it confused him. Best case, it gave him food for thought. For my answer to be useful to him at that age, I'd have to continue explaining for another hour or so, and that wouldn't have worked either.

But it was my answer. It still is. And now that he's a grown man at the ripe old age of 39, I have to acknowledge two things:

One, he gets it. I never had to explain it again. He just grew up, got wisdom, and now he gets it.

And two, he's a really masculine guy. By my definition, anyway.


Meredith Bell said...

I like your definitions and wholeheartedly agree with them. And that video was a powerful reminder to look beyond the surface to get to the essence of who a person really is. Teller is very lucky to have you as his dad.

Sean said...

Alternately one can look at it this way-- many faults can be fixed through software.

Susan Young said...

Happy Birthday to Teller! He is blessed to have such a wise father, and lived the wisdom. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience that can help all of us.

Noah Lomax said...

As a son, and hopefully one day father, I'm thankful for this definition. Excellent advice! Thanks for sharing it with all of us, Denny!

Bill Lampton, Ph.D. said...

Denny, that question may be tougher than the traditional "Dad, who makes babies?"

Your answer was inspired--and inspirational.

I was blessed with a father who had great values, as you do, and made sure his children knew what they were.

Thanks for sharing such a stimulating reply to your son's question. Years ago I considered writing an article "The Meaning of Macho." You just did that for me!

All the best,