Presence

Bare feet on concrete slabs, underneath the blue, cloudless sky, I hear the roar of engines from the heavens. Tearing through air and space, the black, sharp-looking fighter jets following its trajectory toward the half-intoxicated yet curious crowd. The jets neared and zoomed past us within a mere few seconds; its engines roaring like a loud, angry lion, leaving people utterly terrified and yet in awe by its majestic beauty. Following a heavy round of applause from the extremely satisfied crowd, the Masters of Ceremony proudly listed down all the names of the fighter jet pilots who flew overhead.

Men.

They were all male fighter jet pilots.

Hair still standing at the back of my neck, with eyes wide open in mini-electrifying shocks.

I took a deep breath and sighed out loud.

‘Wow.’

I looked around and saw the reflection of my thoughts from the crowd. Most of them were just as amazed as I was at the air-entertainment showcased at this particular event. The fighter jets made a U-turn and flew back to show off more of its extremely dangerous fighter pilot skills.

One thing was very apparent. One thing I strongly felt at that event.

There was this strong presence of really scary, crazy dominant red-blooded male, adrenaline pumping, masculinity showcased in the air. And yet, from what was felt as an emotional chaos, there was this strong sense of order of execution of the event. How…mind-blowing. It was definitely a sensory overload experience for me.

To be honest, that particular event got me thinking a lot about masculinity. Nobody at that event had to spell it out. It was definitely felt. Or at least, I did.

How do I view masculinity?

Masculinity is; that mechanic guy with oil tainted overalls hard at work every night for three months straight bringing an old, hopeless, run-down truck roaring back to life. It’s those veins etched along the smoothness of the arms that handle heavy cargo boxes all day without complaint. It’s that “I got it” nod to the grateful Asian grandma who needed help carrying her trolley full of vegetable groceries down the stairs. It’s most, if not all, of Quentin Tarantino films (especially Django. Oh! And Inglorious Bastards. As well as The Hateful Eight, Kill Bill, I honestly could name a few more, but, you get it). It’s heavy duty construction work on a hot 38 degrees Celsius workday, deep sea fishing and bringing home massive King fishes, whale hunting, shark feeding, bush-hiking, adrenaline-seeking, artistically riveting, raw and powerful and yet such naturally executed – presence.

Masculinity is; that immediate strong grasp around my shirt collar pulling me back to shore when that strong wave current almost swept me out into the open sea at Natadola Beach. It’s those bruised fists that was more than willing to give another black eye to that ex-guy friend (not boyfriend. There’s a difference) who just didn’t understand that 1 AM was bedtime – not ‘Psst…I wanna tell you something, just come outside mada’ time. It’s the sweat gliding down from his forehead as he continues to drive the digging fork deeper into the earth with the weight of his right foot, planting and harvesting food crops enough to feed the whole neighborhood. The sound and sight of colorful sports cars speeding to the finish line. Of motorbikes flying into the air and through fire-rings. Of farm boys wearing cowboy hats mounting an angry stallion purely for entertainment purposes. Those fighter jet pilots skilled in taming the mechanical beasts of the air.

Masculinity is; seeing his many sons behave like respectful yet diligent young men who respect, protect and look out for their sisters, mothers and grandmothers. Pouring my drink into my glass without me asking. It’s gently pulling me aside, away from everyone, to assertively remind me not to hurt my back lifting those chairs into the meeting room as he’s already organizing it himself. It’s willingly placing my safety and well being as a top priority before his own. Staying healthy and the neatly trimmed beard on his face. How beautifully well put together he is; and the handsome, rugged form of art when he isn’t. The thunder of his laughter uncovering even deeper laugh lines. That rugged scruff I feel against my smooth cheek when I lean in for a kiss hello, and that whiff of that subtle cologne beneath his neatly ironed shirt. That towering height, those wide shoulders, that calm confidence, that strong presence in the room. Those little mindless fidgets with straightening his neck tie, leaning in to discuss points of importance, or clearing his throat before speaking his mind assertively, unbeknownst to the group of eagerly attentive force of femininity slowly conglomerating nearby (and obviously triggered by his presence).

Masculinity is; a terrifying force against the weak, if it doesn’t mature well enough, or at all. It is definitely intimidating to the misunderstood. Yet, in the most common language of love, masculinity is protective, safe, and very warm.

Masculinity.

Masculinity is good.

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The struggle is real #Lent2017

When you’ve lived with someone for, lets say, more than twenty years, you tend to predict much of their little lifestyle habits. You know their favorite list of television shows off by heart. You know their favorite drink to sip whilst scrolling through facebook to unwind after a long day at work. You know what they’re going to mumble to themselves before hanging up the phone on one of their close friends. Heck, you can even predict how long they’ll take in the shower. You would know the person inside out just from living together for more than twenty years, given there are a few exceptions of course.

Take for instance, my Dad. Right from age 7, I was well aware of the fact that he disliked sweets. He would lecture all of us kids – not about the dangers of eating too much sweets – but how much he despised sweets, period. He even gave longer lectures when he saw cream buns, chocolate cake, cakes with fancy decorated cream or any cake with cream that was served for afternoon tea. He just didn’t prefer the sweeter side of life. But what he did like, was plain, wholemeal bread. The more boring looking, the more appealing.

Ugh.

But something really weird happened today. Out of the blue, my Dad comes home from work with a plastic filled with blueberry muffins, (my favorite) French Brioche and (my-ultimate-favorite-food-I-swear-I-go-weak-if-I-don’t-have-it-when-it’s-just-sitting-there-on-the-table) Madeira cake (mouth-watering sweetness. ‘Nough said).

But the only problem is, this is unlike my Dad to buy something like sweet food out of the blue. He doesn’t even eat these kinds of sweet food.

So the question is, why did this have to happen today?

What is so special with today that got me scratching my head wondering whether or not Dad would go through all that trouble of spending his precious loose change to buy something he wouldn’t eat himself? Weird, isn’t it?

While no other answer seems legit enough, I do know for a fact that I’ve been looking forward to today since last week.

You see, today is Ash Wednesday.

The day when the Lent season begins. There will be a lot of Christians (including yours truly) across the nation and around the world recommitting themselves to God this season. A special season has commenced for Christians across the nation and around the world. A special season that commenced with the mark of The Cross by Holy Water to the forehead to reaffirm that I belong to God. A special season that commenced with the mark of The Cross traced in the symbolic black ashes. Since Lent is an intimate opportunity to draw closer to God and people with sincere intentions, ensuring that we stay strong against moments of temptation can be a struggle.

 

And once objectives have been established and words of deep reflection parted by the Reverend Dr. at tonight’s Ash Wednesday Service, I come home to my first temptation – sweet food – especially since I’ve always had a soft spot for Madeira cakes and Brioche for the longest time.

I swear, the struggle during Lent this year, is real.

Temptation is already here, sitting in that grey plastic from Woolies, absent-mindedly purchased by Father dearest. Of course I forgive my Dad when he’ll wake up tomorrow morning clearing up his throat to deliver yet another long lecture on how much he despises Brioche and Madeira cake, and possibly (and this is my personal favorite prediction), why didn’t anyone talk him out of it? “Obviously, I was busy talking on the phone and not knowing what I was putting in the trolley. You know how much I hate these kinds of food, why didn’t you say something!?” LOL

sliced-french-brioche-loaf