I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to the bit in the What Men Do Guide where it defines an oak tree as ‘an acorn with Balls’.
What I’ve become aware of is the deeper significance of its truth, as it implies that who and what you are capable of Becoming is already implanted within when you were born.
This means that when we refer to a guy’s growth, it is actually the maturing process of becoming visible and recognisable in the world – rather in the way the butterfly slowly comes forth from the cocoon.
This idea has a lot of personal significance for me as it helps to explain why I had such a rotten relationship with my father, especially when I was a teenager.
He was of the style of thinking whereby, as my father, he knew what was right – for me. To the best of my knowledge, no attention was ever given to any given aptitudes other than those he was anxious to witness as I moved from boy to teenager. In his head my future career was clear; I was to become a concert pianist.
Around my sixth birthday I began to take piano lessons. These were quite pleasurable and it became apparent that I had a ‘musical ear’. Learning was not a difficult process. However, early-on I knew via some intuitive process that I didn’t have that special gift which brings to life the deeper emotions that are contained within great pieces of music.
I tried to explain this to my father but it was beyond his powers of comprehension. He obviously thought that because I was capable of playing the correct notes, that was sufficient for me to become a great musician – rather like a similar father might assume that because his son could remember all of Shakespeare’s lines he would automatically become a gifted actor.
Over a period of about two years I was taken to the Victoria Concert Hall to listen to and observe the fingering of any visiting pianist. This came to a sudden end following a visit to Bradford where a well known music teacher was visiting from London. He asked me if I would like to play for him, but I declined. I didn’t was to embarrass either of us.
From that day onwards my father had little time for me. He never missed the opportunity to remind me that ‘you had your chance’, though it was a ‘chance’ I was more than happy to miss out on.
Now, thanks to the acorn, it all becomes clear. My innate talents (such as they are) didn’t include that near-magical quality which my father craved from me. Of course I needed the sunshine and rain and love and encouragement and the nourishment that every guy needs; it just wasn’t for work at the piano. That came much later and in a different climate.
Looking back I’m grateful that eventually this nourishment arrived and I didn’t remain trapped in my cocoon as I suspect happens with many guys.
A final thought; Halifax, where I live, used to be a part of the northern edge of Sherwood Forest. What impresses me most about the trees that remain is that they are all different. They ‘Stand Alone’, and make no effort to be one of the crowd or to be any different from what they are.
I really admire that.