Every day we have the opportunity to embark on a hero's journey; often we do and don't realize it. Sometimes that journey can occur in a matter of hours, sometimes it spans the years. If you ever find yourself in dark places, confused and afraid, unsure if you are worthy, know that you have been gifted with your own journey; look for the signs, accept the help, embrace the ordeal because upon your rebirth, upon your transformation and atonement you will have a gift for yourself, and through you, a gift for the world.
Once again I stood at the canvas convinced I had nothing to say; feeling in a mediocre mood. Expecting mediocre work. I took a deep breath asked for guidance, focused on the canvas, waited a few moments and then like someone else had grabbed my hand the brush hit the surface like the cut of a sword and it was on.
It poured out of me. I knew exactly what to do each step of the way; as I was finishing one colour I would get a brain snap that was clear as day what the next colour should be and before I knew it (well, not quite that easily, I had to do three layers of pyrrole red for lack of opacity ;-) it was done.
I sat down and looked at it and felt great joy that I had channeled something pure. Honest. And as I lauded my accomplishment, I can describe it in no other way than it frowned at me and the magic I felt started to disappear and I realized it was calling me out. I was calling me out. Humbled, I put my feet back on the ground and felt gratitude to have created such a great mirror for my inner world.
I've lived a week from hell. This piece was thwarted from the get go, everything in my life was going wrong; conspiring to stop me from painting. I'd started the foundation and I hated it, it was surely a mistake. I wasn't ready to deal.
My Aunt, Leah Hokanson, called and asked "how are you?". We've created a safe space to express ourselves to each other so I told her how I really was. How all this crap was coming up and how everything was wrong and how I felt I was failing myself and my family. She was drawn to offer a poem written by Rumi:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
My avoidance came clear to me. I had such an intense desire to not look, to push away, to deny this dark dark part of me that lives just under the surface. The harder I ignored, the harder I pushed it away, the stronger it became. It was wreaking havoc everywhere I looked.
At that moment of understanding, I began to paint and poured that acknowledgement on the canvas. It told me it was stubborn, undeniable, headstrong, unstoppable... like a moose. I opened the door and laughing, I invited it in. I let it and its environment take shape, I felt SO MUCH better. I realized as I was finishing that I was creating a container for it. My final gesture was to gather the remnants of that energy and give it to the canvas. Seal it in. Let its realness, its existence always be acknowledged, always be seen. Never again denied.
I am a member and huge believer in the Mankind Project and its initiation experience, the New Warrior Training Adventure. The processes and understandings I gained during my weekend showed me how to plant my feet firmly on the ground as a man among men and every day since then I sit more in my power. The following is an email that was passed through the MKP community in regards to getting men on board for the next NWTA in our area. Camp Pringle, Shawnigan Lake, BC in April of 2012. With Boyson Hodgson's permission I am offering this as an excellent window in to the MKP process:
Someone asked me the other day what I needed around marketing in the project ...
My answer to him was that I needed more men willing to drop the shame and take a stand for the work we do.
Here is what that means to me:
You CAN'T understand the NWTA until you attend it.
You CAN'T compare your other experiences, because there isn't another one like it.
There are many imitations. There are many organization that try to do what we do without going as far as we are willing to go.
The power of the NWTA is that we took a stand ---- that we would be the ones to push the boundaries and challenge a man's comfort zones ---- even KNOWING that we would piss him off. We ask a man to go to the edge and often beyond it and STAY THERE until he gets what he came to get. We ask a man to do whatever it takes in a culture that only asks for what a man 'is comfortable with'. That is the gift. As uncomfortable, ridiculous and sometimes cheesy as I may think it is, the gift of the NWTA is that it takes men to a place where every lesson can be relearned, where wounds can be healed, and where a man can find his voice after unpacking all the bullshit he keeps in his life to cover it up.
And the NWTA is NOT the 'end-all, be-all' of personal growth. [we shouldn't pretend it is!] There are lots of experiences that will help a man grow and deepen his wisdom, abilities and tools. But I would submit that the NWTA is Emotional Manhood 101, it is the PREREQUISITE training that will help a man access his own personal store of power, power that will take him anywhere he wants to go. The NWTA is a foundation for personal growth. Its intensity means a whole lot less time wasted down the road doing remedial work. When you learn how far you can actually push yourself - surrounded by other men - when you learn what you are capable of feeling through your entire being - and can share it with other men - then you are in the best position possible for YOUR next step.
I was doing 400 level reading before I did the NWTA. I had done other workshops, been in therapy, been in groups, I had 'gotten it' a dozen times. And yet I still hadn't learned some absolute fundamentals to growing into mature manhood ... because the 400 level courses can't teach them.
Because they CAN'T be taught without the kind of cauldron that we build for the NWTA. No Guru can match it. Tony Robbins can't touch it. And G*d can't answer our prayers for it. It takes a community of men. It take A LOT of men. Messed up, beautiful, wounded, brilliant, mature, childish, growing men willing to stand firm and assist other men. It takes men willing to look one another in the eye when it is REALLY hard to do so, men who have heard everything shameful and hidden that a man tries to hide. Men who have seen other men collapse and be reborn.
That is the NWTA. We are not perfected beings. We're not a church, a club. or a 'secret' cult.
We're the container that will hold any putrid, bubbling, poisonous potion of manhood and help it to transform into something sustaining and nurturing.
We're the container that will hold any golden elixir of empowered and compassionate humanity and help it shine and be shared with the world.
And if a man is willing to complete his initiation ... which means coming BACK from the experience and taking a place in a community of men with continuing commitment to his own self-discovery and responsibility ... then we DO change the world.
As one of our pioneers in this work has said often ... it's time to grow the fuck up.
Time to stop pampering ourselves and each other.
Time to stop letting our culture of toxic masculinity off the hook.
Time to stop expecting that someone else is going to step up and teach the next generations of boys what it means to be mature men.
Time to stop letting ourselves off the hook in our own immaturity, denial and ignorance.
Time to stop hiding out ashamed of what we ourselves needed in order to heal and grow.
Growing up means going beyond what I'm comfortable with.
Like a first bike crash, a first fight, a first fall, a first broken bone - it's painful, sometimes it's bloody, and it leaves a scar.
New Warriors are willing to be wounded - knowing that their lessons come from their wounds.
My scars teach me and remind me, remind me what I am capable of.
So when will we stop hiding out in shame about what we experienced from Friday to Sunday?
Love and Service,
Here's a picture of the men who were part of my NWTA. I count every one of them as a brother who I can get real with right now.