Tiger

 In A Better Life, A Better You, Poetry

By Dan Hoffe
I realize now,
That I’ve lived most of my life,
Trying my best,
To cover up,
And hide my inner light,
To never let anyone see inside,
To never let anyone find out,
How truly vulnerable,
And sensitive,
A creature,
I really am.

During recess,
On my elementary playground,
Was where I first heard,
The law of the land,
That “boys don’t cry,”
Was where I first discovered,
That unlike the others,
I was weak,
And couldn’t control my emotions,
No matter what I did or tried,
If I was hurt,
The tears would simply flow,
So, like a cunning chameleon,
I designed many masks,
And created a repertoire of personas,
That allowed me,
To flawlessly blend,
Into the background,
Of any group,
So as to not be noticed,
By others,
For I quickly learned as a child,
Being spotted,
And singled out,
Was never,
A good thing,
For me.

“Are you crying?”
“Hey, look at the Cry-Baby!”
“Aw, do you need your Mommy?”

Even now,
After all these years,
I can still hear clearly,
Their taunts,
Their cries,
Their jeers,
Echoing through time,
And somehow,
Still vibrating,
And ringing,
In my ears.

It’s no wonder,
I’ve tried to hide my heart,
And to live my life,
Like a stone,
Always skipping along the surface,
Touching down only briefly,
Here and there,
Where it seemed safe,
But, constantly on the lookout,
For the quicksand,
For the muck,
For the whirlpools of negativity,
That might suddenly grab hold of me,
And slowly, pull me,
Down into the darkness,
Down into the depths,
Down into the pain,
And force me to acknowledge,
By rubbing my face in them,
That my scars are real,
That my wounds exist,
That I am deeply broken inside,
Despite the brave face I show to the world.

I don’t know how,
And I don’t know why,
But I do know one thing,
I’ve never, ever seen my dad cry.

Why was his well so dry?
Who had taken all of his tears?
How could he hold it all in?
And live this way for so many years.

It’s still a mystery to me,
How I could be his son,
His “Tiger”,
As he liked to call me,
Why was I born so sensitive?
And him so stoic?

We spoke different emotional languages,
He and I,
He projected strength,
Which left me with weakness,
I didn’t want to be weak,
I wanted to be strong just like him,
To be able to look someone in the eye,
And to never let them know,
That what they’d said or done,
Had hurt me,
One bit.

Was it as hard for him to comfort me?
And to see such unbridled emotions in his son,
As it was for me to have him,
See all of those shameful tears pouring down my face?

He didn’t know how to fix me,
Nor I him,
Like opposite ends of a dowsing rod,
We were perfectly designed to find water together,
But when broken and torn apart,
We were always destined,
To go our own ways,
And to lead vastly different lives.

It’s taken me fifty plus years,
And lots of self-recrimination,
To realize,
That being sensitive is a gift.

Like a blind man’s cane,
I use my heart and its ability to feel,
To navigate my way,
Through the obstacles of life.

I feel deeply and am sensitive,
To all those around me,
I notice the quiet moments of desperation,
And am quick to pick up on joy whenever it is present,
I love nothing better than to play,
And to have meaningful conversations,
With interesting, open-minded individuals.

I love serving as a catalyst for others,
By connecting people,
From diverse backgrounds,
As only a chameleon can,
With someone whom they’d otherwise never meet,
But with whom they share a passion,
That could lead to something greater,
For themselves,
And, for the world.

And guess what?
As my wife will tell you, I still cry at the movies,
But now, I smile as I’m wiping away my tears,

Tiger

Dan with his miniature German spitz – the most Zen dog ever – Toto (which means ”little brave one” in Swahili).

For I finally appreciate,
The beauty of being touched,
The beauty of being moved,
The beauty of being sensitive,
My feelings are the energy cord that connects me,
To everyone and everything,
My feelings are me.

So for all you sensitive men out there,
It’s okay to finally come out into the light,
And be seen, tears and all.

Dan Hoffe is currently an Executive Vice President at Capstan Financial Consulting Group in Sarasota, Florida.
He attended the Hoffman Process in Connecticut from October 12–18, 2019.
Dan has lived extensively abroad and speaks German, French, and Japanese.
Dan is also a World Trade Center survivor. He was on the 61st floor of the South Tower on 9-11 when the first plane hit the North Tower and in the stairwell on the 10th floor when his building was hit.
He can be reached at danhoffe@gmail.com.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Kevin
    Reply

    I absolutely love this Dan, thank you 🙂

    • Joan Pattison
      Reply

      Such beautiful honesty. Thank you for allowing us to “know” you through your incredible words. I feel you need to make this into a book. God Bless You.

  • Teresa
    Reply

    Thank you Dan, I resonate so much with your experience.
    Peace.

  • Deb
    Reply

    Dan, so beautifully said! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and emotional journey. I am so happy that you see it as a gift now!

  • Ceci Zak
    Reply

    Dan – thank you so much for sharing! Your words, sentiment, and bravery has given me hope for quieting the inner struggle I face daily and practicing self-love and authenticity!

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