Thursday, October 15, 2015

What I know about...

Do you ever do that thing where you imagine you're being interviewed by your favourite columnist in your favourite publication? Maybe it involves projecting to a time when you're famous for living your life's dream (ahem!) or maybe it's just because the questions are thought-provoking.

As many of you know, The Age newspaper on Sundays is accompanied by a magazine that largely comprises fluff pieces and photos of vapid-looking young celebrities. It'd be a stretch to say it was my favourite. In fact, most of the time, I flick through to the fashion pages or turn straight to the horoscopes.

But I almost never throw it in the recycling without taking a sneaky peak at the back page which is titled What I know about... then followed by Men or Women, depending on the partnership choices/inclinations of the interviewee. They usually start by talking about their parents.

It's hardly world-changing stuff but for some reason, I've been given to think of what I might answer if I were interviewed for this feature. (Which, of course, will totally happen once I am a published and famous author. Ahem!)

Maybe it's because two of my dear friends lost their fathers quite unexpectedly this past week.

Maybe this brings my own dad into sharp focus. And I know how lucky I am to have had such a gentle and loving father who is always thoughtful, supportive and generous.

Maybe it's because I am now the mother of a little boy who is fearless in his joy and affection.

Growing up, it seemed to me being a boy in Australia was about appearing sporty and tough and more than a little cynical. The lovely lads with whom I studied ballet or sang in the school play inhabited the margins of this, often bullied despite their efforts to keep a low profile.

These days, I have so many beautiful men in my life and I am so happy that my children see examples every day of gentle, smart, funny men who love openly and are not afraid to be themselves. Especially their dad, who is attentive and kind and whose love for them is palpable.

It all seems the more poignant as I write this today, having just discovered that one of my actual favourite columnists for The Age passed away this week suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 45. Sam de Brito seemed to me to be the archetypal modern Australian man. Or at least one that modern Australian men could aspire to. He was intelligent, unafraid to have difficult conversations, self-aware and fiercely in love with his young daughter.

And what I know about men is that the world needs more like him.

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