I’ve recently joined a group called The Mankind Project.
What I first heard about this group, the thing that intrigued me was the idea that in our society, there are no rites of passage for men, outside of gangs and fraternities. This organization offers such a rite of passage.
The basic purpose of this organization is to empower men to missions of service, supporting men to make a difference in the lives of others – men, women, and children around the world. There is a sister group called The Woman Within. I strongly suggest checking out both organizations. Both are fully inclusive of members regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability and religion. All are welcome, so long as they are willing to look at themselves clearly and work on themselves. In my experience so far, it is a group of warm, powerful men who are committed to being the best they can be, committed to understanding who they are, committed to owning their own stuff, and dealing with it in a healthy manner.
It is changing me. A lot. Since joining in April, I have found myself feeling more responsible, motivated, open, and connected. Also happy. Also strong. You get the general idea? I’m a big fan so far, and I love what I see here in terms of opportunities for personal growth as I keep going with it.
I attended a weekend called the “New Warrior Training Adventure” in May out in Prescott, Arizona. It was … intense. And wonderful. And scary. I was told going into it that it would feel a bit like a boot camp, and that if I wanted to get the most out of it, I should commit to it, do what was asked of me, and challenge myself physically and emotionally.
I did so.
We are asked not to reveal anything about the weekend, because revealing it may spoil the experience for others. I won’t do that, though it’s hard not to! I want to talk about it. I want everyone to have this experience, too! What I will say is that I cried, I screamed, I pushed my boundaries, I laughed harder than I’ve laughed in a long time, and there was even a moment when I found myself feeling like I had stepped into my own masculinity in a way I never had before. I understood that word, and I understood myself, in new ways. When I came home, Chuck said, “Is your voice deeper?”
I came away from the weekend with an animal name–Waking Bear–and a mission statement–I create a world of integrity by writing and living authentically. Mission statements can change over time, and I am thinking that I need to add something about unifying those around me, because that is, I believe, part of my mission. I am tired of the world pulling us apart. I want to do what I can bring folks together.
I go to a weekly meeting, called an i-Group. There is something extremely powerful about sitting in a room with a group of men from very diverse backgrounds, with varied understandings of the world, where I can feel fully accepted and loved for who I am. All of me is welcome there. It is helping me understand the connections we share–LGBTQ or straight, conservative or liberal, regardless of age, ethnicity, ability, or national origin. We are all people. It is easy to vilify those we disagree with, those who are different. Harder, but much more valuable, is to come to see each person as exactly who they are–flawed, beautiful, filled with the same feelings I have. It is so powerful to watch each of these men be authentic and vulnerable.