Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Man to Man

Here's a news flash for you all. Men and women are different. In an era when many like to pretend that they're not, that is important information. The physical differences are obvious; but the differences also exist deep in the core of their being. Anyone with a couple of adequate brain cells to rub together will have noticed, for example, that men and women deal with matters that effect their emotions differently. Women talk about things. Men not so much.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I spent some of my younger years in the US Army. Happy days! Boys do love their toys and the army sure has a lot of shiny things that make loud noises to play with.

The army, of course, has lots of men in it. Men who, more than most, don't want to show weakness and certainly don't want to talk about their problems. They have them, naturally, like anybody else. Concerns about relationships, money, health, the future. They just don't want to talk about them all that much. It doesn't go with the tough guy image that comes with wearing a uniform and being ready to fight and die for your country.

One of the things I noticed about men while I was in the army was that they were more inclined to talk about things that were bothering them when they were working away on something. It was almost as if having their hands dealing with some physical task loosened their tongues and they didn't realise they were talking about their problems. That, or maybe the fact that they were doing some rough piece of work provided enough external proof that they were indeed tough which allowed them to talk about what was on their minds.

I'm not the only one to have noticed this. Someone came up with an elegant phrase to describe the phenomenon – men don't talk to each other, they talk alongside each other. And that's fine, most of the time. But what happens when men no longer have work to go to, jobs where they can work alongside other men and chat about the things that worry them almost without meaning to? What happens when they retire, get laid off, or take an injury and can no longer work?

Well, one thing they can do is get involved in the Men's Shed movement. It provides places where men can go to do a bit of carpentry or metal work. The work is good; but it's the company that's really important. Other men who can listen to their problems as they work, even as they listen to theirs.

I know there's a fine Men's Shed in Castlecomer. And I'm sure there are many others around the county. Track them down, either for yourself or for someone you know. Men are different, but difference is good. The result will be happier men. And if a few birdboxes get made or lawnmower engines fixed along the way, so much the better!

this article appears in this week's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

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