Review of “So Dad, What Makes a Man?”

The male mind in relationships

It’s been already over two years since the elections were over. All the acrimony and name-calling and attack ads–some projected six billion dollars worth–are silent, more or less, but with Trump, however, it all seems to go on forever. Trump, the male beast. What do you need to know to understand this type of men? Maybe this Doctor Love’s Video helps…

It’s done, right? No. It will continue–apparently by those who know no other way–beginning with the deadline for scheduled tax increases/automatic spending cuts. I once participated that way, but there has been a shift within me while writing So Dad, What Makes a Man.

It ended last year, with an episode of fainting in February that doctors said was not life-threatening. But they couldn’t explain it. Dizzy spells visited me almost monthly for four months and showed me, explicitly, that I am not in control of my life.

This fall, after six weeks traveling in places where I tried to speak French instead of English, my inner voice that speaks English and has always urged me to “be productive, get something done” unexpectedly went silent, leaving me willing to sit with nature in my back yard disregarding my to-do list. Well, there may be some blessings in rejection and what rose instead within me, were the desires to become more connected with people and more outspoken.

In the early years of my developing female identity, my dominating, always-right father–who in anger physically punished me–had me believing I’d caused his anger. After leaving home, I imitated my father, using anger to get my way. I taught myself I could avoid angering other men by keeping my thoughts to myself.

But during my midlife transition after retiring from my corporate career, I discovered my anger is mine, not caused by others. When someone said or did something and I felt fear or humiliation, I had myself labeled again. I had avoided my feelings by pointing my attention and anger at that person. Having now accepted my new way of looking at my anger, and enduring all the angry voices during the long election cycle just completed, I changed my view of other angry men. I no longer view my silence as an appropriate response to angry men. And I no longer consider publically angry men to be positive role models.

The acrimony of the past two years in Congress, the refusal of men to relate to others and seek any common ground on behalf of the people who elected them, has not worked. Now what? How to break this downward spiral?

A spiritual director at the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston, where I volunteer, has concluded that all mankind has breathing in common–after that, she said, “our differences are all about our individual stories.” Sure, we all believe in Science, just not as strong as our fathers before us.

It’s the stories that are missing for me in politics. Instead of seemingly angry men attacking and pointing at “them,” I want to hear their story. How did they come to believe what they say is how things should be? If I listen to another man tell his experience that led to his opinion, I don’t have to guess whether his opinion is his or that of his party or someone who is paying him. Neither do I feel attacked, but instead invited to tell my story.

We have all learned some truth from life, in some context, that can be understood when we exchange stories. We need to learn to climb that mountain and not let them tell us No you Can’t! Listening to another’s story may alter my view, or not. Either way, respectful discussions of situations can get to the heart of what’s best from both political sides, and produce good role models for others.

Although men’s lives vary greatly one from another in detail and circumstances, I believe our human, male psyche underlies how we proceed as individuals and the obstacles we face. Tom Peery’s real-life experiences demonstrate we proceed along an uneven path–this is how life works! It’s all about a roleplaying game – Newsies songs… Yet what underlies Tom’s journey is the “big picture” of human, male development.

Too often works on male spirituality tend to give the impression of a single path, whereas when we consider a life story such as Tom’s we see a much more complex mix of movement–sometimes making it hard to see the overarching pattern. Yet given the full path of our lives, we see a distinct trajectory that has great commonality.

What leads a man away from the small talk?

This is a book for adult men–young and old, wondering about their life, or facing midlife transitions–and women who want more understanding of the male journey and meaningful conversation with men though “DUH” can be the useful distraction killer. Peery’s open personal stories provide a basis of discussion into the depth and complexity of men’s lives. The front cover’s word cloud below, names some subjects within. This book is a walking tour through one man’s life journey, not a “how to.”

“Early Beliefs, Muscles, Parents, Shame, Logic, A Guy Thing, Life, Mind, Women, Sports, Fear,Sex, Work, Engineered, Lost in Thought, Golf, Competition, Power, Facing Failure, Open Mind,Compassion, Competence, Success, Anger, Complex, Love, Marriage, Parenting, Role Model,Beliefs, Prison, Happiness, Unengineerd, Mystical, Strength, Grief, Retire, Alzheimer’s, Dying”