While pondering a subject for this blog post I found myself caught between overwhelm and keen sense of being lost at sea, not clear which harbor to steer towards. After some time spent writing up catchy headlines and diving into themes that deserve much more attention than a blog post – patriarchy, “man up”, archetypes of masculinity, double edge sword of sexism – just to name a few, I found myself back at square one. This time however I had completed a few mental journeys in which my thoughts had taken on a life of their own, became avatars so to speak, that I was able to retire or even kill so I didn’t need to invest time and resources fleshing out the ideas themselves…at least for now.
From this new beginning, this new horizon the view looked quite different. A whisper of a sense nudged two phrases to me: “Look back and ask your men” and “More silence.” As I pondered what that meant, YouTube notified me on my phone that I might like a clip with Alan Watts titled “Don’t Force Anything.” I’m a big believer in honing our skills to truly see signs as they show up along the unfolding road upon which we find ourselves in this journey…..even if it’s YouTube. I’d like to share what I believe these three signs mean for the purpose of writing this blog post and how it relates to you, the reader.
“Look back and ask your men” speaks clearly to me in that I have shared with other men my quest for better understanding of the masculine and what it means to be a man. Whether that sharing is in conversation with other men, in private coaching sessions or leading men’s council gatherings at La Maida, there appears some common threads as I look back at the last 2+ years that I’d summarize as follows: Men are mission driven, and want to protect who and what they love. We love to build something that lasts and want to provide, not just financially or resources, but also energetically, holding the space as it were. We strive towards sovereignty for ourselves but also love seeing our life partners blossom into their full essence, even if just momentarily. In private we won’t tell you this, but we all crave a space, a community of men with whom we can share, feel received and receive other men. We satisfy this craving to some extent through work relationships, sports brotherhood, friendships and competition. However, I also noticed a strong desire for silence, deep silence where a man can experience privacy and the possibility of uninterrupted thinking……some might call this “the cave.”
“More Silence” is not only the absence of sound but the experience of presence. Presence of self, presence of the moment, presence of awareness, presence of love. Without fail, 100% of every instance whether on a hike, in a 1-on-1 coaching session or as a group, I witness guttural sighs of relief once men sink into that place of deep silence where nothing but the moment at hand exists. Going further into that cave of silence, at times, men experience a deep acceptance of what is and sometimes their judgmental voices might even shut up and retreat to whence they came, the places of insecurities, fear, doubt and loneliness. Lastly, when they exit the place of deep inner silence into just sitting quietly, men experience calm minds, fuller hearts, stronger backbones and clearer vision allowing them to direct their entire being towards their mission and purpose, however they experience and define them.
“Don’t Force Anything.” Alan Watts often talks about Daoism, which originates in China and is generally attributed to Lao Tzu ca. 500 BCE. In the Dao there is a concept of Wu Wei, which Alan translates to not forcing anything. It spoke to me as I thought about this blog post and considering the work I’ve done with men. Men are aggressive. Men are loving. Men can become violent and moody when their aggression isn’t channeled towards something that gives them a sense of purpose and puts them on the path of a mission. Aggression is a primal energy and necessary to our survival, much like fire. Fire can burn down a village or cook meals for all its inhabitants. Aggression can turn into violence, anger and pain or it can become a powerful force to take a stand for what we believe, protect who/what we love and service a higher good. It seems to me when we force something to be that isn’t ready to become or just isn’t right for us, we abandon the wisdom contained in the moment and end up crossing into anger, violence and pain. These draining forces can be directed outwards to others and/or inwards to ourselves. When directed outward we notice equally opposing violence, fear and fight-mode from others. When directed inwards, violence brings about moodiness, depression and sadness. It’s more of an art than a science, an intuition really, to know when to force something and when to step back. However, I believe 9 out of 10 instances when we try to force anything we rob the moment from the power of wisdom and teachings. Hence, don’t force anything. Being strong, having courage, standing in your power is very different than forcing yourself through life or onto your brothers and sisters that are on a journey like yourself.
My prayer for you as you go into 2019:
May you always know you come from a lineage of well-intended men that tried their best.
May you find a community of men, a brotherhood, that feeds your soul.
May you know the powerhouse of your soul in your silent moments and let them feed your thoughts, deeds and vision.
May you always know the difference between being in your power versus forcing yourself onto life.