Professor Nick Clements is an expert in male rites of passage. Here he offers an insight into his work guiding men through rites of passage.
—This is article #3 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
I am very fortunate, the work I do is my passion and it serves a purpose in the wider community. One aspect of my work is to guide men through rites of passage. I find the best way of describing the process is to compare ourselves metaphorically to a crab. All crabs eventually grow too large for their exoskeleton, and the very thing which protects, and is its’ identity, becomes restrictive and harmful.
The crab recognises this and realises it needs to shed the shell, and grow a new one. This must be done wholeheartedly, every part of it needs to be renewed. During this change, the crab becomes soft, not hard, and vulnerable. It will often hide under a stone. After a while the crab can once again go out into the world. We all undertake such a process many times in our lives.
The significance of rites of passage was recognised by our ancestors, and by indigenous people all round the world. My job is to help facilitate such change to occur for men in a way that is relevant to today, and to accompany people on their journey. We think of teenagers and the transition of boy to man as the most important rite.
Training men to be role models
Presently we are expecting most of our teens to do this work on their own, without guidance from the older generations. We need courageous older men to help them on their way, and I am running such a training programme for the male staff at ‘Kids Company’. Male role models should have put themselves through a rite of passage before doing the same to the teenagers.
Most of this training deals with the transition from being self-centred to becoming community conscious. A lot of this work is with men between the ages of 40 and 60. Many have been successful in the material world, but as they mature they feel their achievements have little significance. As a consequence they seek to become of value to the wider community, to ‘put something back’. Such a change of mindset is very welcome in our present selfish culture.
Often this change can come about by understanding the story of ‘Zorba the Buddha’ from Osho. As Zorba, the man enjoys the material world, he fights, dances, womanises and drinks. After a while he becomes dissatisfied with this lifestyle. As Osho says ‘only a very mediocre mind can go on being happy with it’. So, he looks up from the earth to the sky, but he doesn’t forget his roots. ‘Live in this world, because this world gives ripening, maturity, integrity. The challenges of this world give you a centering, an awareness. And that awareness becomes the ladder. Then you can move from Zorba to Buddha.’
These mature men are on a personal journey through vulnerability, grief and emotional intelligence, and by doing so they are able to support teenagers in a valuable way. Not expecting the boys to become superheroes, but enabling them to find their passion, witnessing the teenagers’ struggle, and praising their bravery and courage. This is how community can be created.
—Picture credit: Flickr/Mark Roy
Nick Clements is an author, consultant and workshop leader using creativity to address social and environmental problems. His unique techniques enable thousands of people to move through personal development to recognise their benefit for the wider community. His work remains a benchmark in his field, in recognition of his outstanding contribution he was made a Visiting Lecturer at Staffordshire University in 2009.
He has written three books on creativity, and three books on male rites of passage, and is available to facilitate groups and workshops on such issues.He is hosting a series of pop-up conferences on masculinity for men and women, called ‘REAL MEN’. For more information on his work and the conferences: www.nick-clements.com.
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.