Ianto Doyle of Journeyman UK explains the work the charity does with men and boys.
—This is article #95 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
“There are many things that constrain our lives, that limit us somehow, whether it be a family history, a genetic predisposition, a specific fault, or an omission that wounds us…I call these limits we did not choose, but that we must live with, “fate.” When we face our fate, we find our destiny, which is our soul’s destination in life. That which limits us has within it the seeds of that which can help us transcend our limitations. Through the exact twists of fate we find our own unique soul.”
Seven years ago I was initiated as a man at the age of 47. Initiation is an experience, within community, that marks an individual’s transition from one life stage to another, for example adolescence to adulthood or adulthood to elderhood . Initiations often bring up challenges of a psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual nature, as the person steps out of the everyday world into a sacred, loving and safe space, usually in nature. It is characterised by three stages, the separation from everyday life, a relevant ‘ordeal or trial’, and the return transformed to be welcomed back anew.
Everyone who goes through that inner ordeal gets something different from it; I was struck by a few things. I probably heard the word ‘man’ used in a positive light more times that weekend than the rest of my entire life put together. I was overwhelmed by the powerful and compassionate nature of the staff, and felt quite young. I was deeply challenged but safe to go very deep into myself. There were a lot of staff. I mean a lot. Way more than participants and I came away with the deep felt sense that the men had come for me at last! I had been waiting for 30 years for them to show up and show me how to be a man.
I thought I knew myself, I had done a lot of counselling, alternative this and that, I was smart, had thought about stuff, was emotionally literate blahh blahh – the stories I told myself! However I found out more about myself and grew I my ability to be a man more in one weekend than in years. When I returned home I dropped my female relate counsellor and faced into my dysfunctionality with a local men’s group – as never before, and faced into my greatness as never before too. This did not fix my life, it was more like being jump started so I could get to the garage, get some major repairs done and have my life get a bit more functional.
As my children entered the teenage years I got interested in teenagers. When we talk about the trouble with teens, or that we need to do something for our boys like give them a rites of passage, I reckon we are putting the cart before the horse. In Earl Hipps’ book Man Making he talks about how invisible teenage boys are, or if they are seen, it is with suspicion and fear. Have you ever walked by a gang of teenagers and looked at them that way? Earl suggests giving them a nod; then progress to an ‘alright?’. I gave it a go – nothing bad happened. In fact once a teenager was kicking off in a chip shop, so I said ‘alright, what’s happening?. He talked about the shit day he had had, it all calms down and we get our chips. We depart with a ‘laters’; it took 5 minutes. Another time, a rowdy gang at the outdoor pool crashed into my wife whilst playing a ball game very close to where people were lying on the grass. I talked him through how to apologise and make amends after he brushed it off initially and said an empty apology after hurting my wife.
Not that hard is it to show up for the teenagers – or is it?
To read part two of this article see: Initiating the boys and re-claiming our own teenage experiences
—Picture credit: Hey Danielle
Journeyman UK is a mentoring charity, dedicated to supporting boys aged 13 to 17 to discover their unique potential and apply their gifts in service to themselves, each other and their community at large.
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.