Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Character and Six-Pack Abs

First reconstruction of Neanderthal man

A few days ago I began a post by describing a fictitious (sorry to break anyone's balloon) account of Neanderthal dating rituals. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to revisit that scenario and take it in a slightly different direction.

Once upon a time there was a Neanderthal named Lug. He was in love with the girl in a neighboring cave and to impress her with his prowess, he went out and slew a saber-toothed tiger. Arriving at her cave later that day, he was met at the entrance by her father who politely informed him that Slug had brought her a mammoth and the nuptials were a done deal. Sadly, Lug returned home, took some charcoal and poured out his heart in images that endure to this day.

Never mind the fact that the saber-toothed tiger was the same one that chased Slug around the campfire the previous night. Never mind the fact that Slug can't pick up a piece of charcoal without burning his fingers.
And never mind the fact that Slug can't put two words together without grunting. He brought down a mammoth and that's what counts.

I know you can see where I'm going with this. The intelligent, courageous, and creative guy loses out to the bonehead with the big club. "Strength" takes precedence over depth of character. The problem is, you can't talk to muscles and grunting makes for poor dinner conversation. The capacity for relatedness and an ability to engage on multiple levels are ultimately what make the chemistry interesting, particularly in the long run.

Character grows out of experiences that are often painful and its development takes time. It doesn't necessarily conform to romantic fantasies nor does it always come with six-pack abs. But empathy, maturity, good sense -- these are the kinds of things that keep a person warm on a winter night.

Especially when the fire burns low in the cave.

(Public domain image via Wikipedia)
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