BOYHOOD: Not Exactly a Film Review

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GUEST POST: by Peter Clothier

Originally published at the Buddha Diaries

(for Luka, a bit later in his life)

I woke this morning thinking about Barack Obama, and how perfectly he fits the model of manhood proposed by Rudyard Kipling in his unjustly maligned and frequently parodied poem “If.”  In case you don’t remember it, here’s how it starts out:

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

Doesn’t that sound like Obama?

First, though, Boyhood, which provoked these thoughts. We finally got to see this beautiful and profoundly moving film last night.  I loved the twelve-year journey of these skillful and committed actors, playing out the emotional development of fictional characters engaged in a fictional narrative as they themselves physically aged.  I loved the “truth” of the story itself, of a family struggling with the realities of life—the failed and failing marriages, the financial woes, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, sibling love and feuding, school and the relationships with classmates, the pain of the teenage years, and so on.  All along, start to finish, the story had the convincing “feel” of life as most of us experience it.

And the film is true to its title.  It is about boyhood.  Even at the end, the young boy, Mason, whose life we have been following from elementary school to college has not yet emerged fully into manhood.  The last shot shows him, literally high in the beautiful natural surroundings of the mountains, and high on the mushroom fed him by his brand new college roommate.  With a lovely young woman at his side—they sit still shyly side by side and not in some false, premature embrace—he gazes out in ecstasy into the landscape as though into a future filled with allure.  But it is abundantly clear that he is still a boy.  Boyhood still glows in his face; he’s all promise, no completion.

Which should not surprise us.  He had no models of real manhood as he was growing up.  Mason’s biological father is a charming rogue in his early years, unable to accept the responsibilities of marriage, job, and family.  The subsequent relationships his mother forms are with men whose manhood is as questionable as his father’s: a smooth academic whose insecurities lead him to drunken tyranny; a former military man whose immaturity is revealed in his insensitivity and inflexibility.  With one notable exception—a photography teacher who attempts to move our Mason beyond his obstinate, lethargic adolescence—the strong, mature figures who surround the growing boy are women.  The men are simply grown-up little boys.

Which leads me to reflect, beyond the parameters of the movie, upon this question: what are the qualities of manhood?  We find what I think of as a real man all too infrequently in our contemporary world.  We are surrounded everywhere by ungrown men: the drunks, the abusers, the workaholics; priests and teachers who take advantage of their positions of trust and exploit the vulnerabilities of children; lovers who take what they need and reject responsibility; politicians who lack the spine to govern and capitulate too easily to those who would manipulate them; gun-toting idiots who insist so stridently on their “rights” and are quick to spurn the rights of others; sports heroes pumped up with illicit drugs and phony testosterone; spoiled cultural idols, many of them scarcely more than teenagers.

Too often, the models of manhood we are offered are characterized by a false notion of strength.  To return to the President and his current predicament, surrounded as he is by well-meaning progressives to the left and fanatics blinded by their own rectitude on the right, all nipping at his heels and demanding displays of strength.  They fail to understand that the qualities of true strength are not intellectual inflexibility and rash, foolhardy action (the former President and his enablers come inevitably to mind) but the maturity to step back and take the longer view, the wisdom to listen and, when necessary, to change.  Even to bend.  That too is strength.  They have not learned the ancient lesson of the oak tree and the reed.

The qualities of manhood, in my view, are these: integrity, a sense of mission, a devotion to service.   We know how to teach these qualities.  We do it with our military men in boot camp (women, too, these days, of course, but I’m concerned here with men.)  While I’m not a fan of militarism in any form, I’ll concede that in most cases even this crass form of initiation can produce admirable men—men who have not only strength and skills, but a sense of purpose greater than themselves.  Our armed forces are worthy of the respect that they receive.  What turns boys to men is this kind of ritualized initiation—a process that’s significantly lacking in the development of the youngster who’s portrayed in “Boyhood,” as it is to the majority of us today.  Of myself, if I’m to be honest, I must acknowledge that I reached some measure of manhood only in my fifties.  For genuine initiation in our culture we have substituted such tepid rituals as Christian confirmations and bar mitvahs.

They don’t do the trick.  In traditional cultures, the transition was a far more dangerous journey, involving genuine threat to life and limb as boys were sent out into wilderness or jungle to temper the vulnerability and fearfulness of boyhood into the steel they would need to function as a man.  We in the modern Western world have no wild animals to deal with, unless we count those within.  We forget that these are powerful enough to rule our lives if we don’t learn to acknowledge and confront them.  The early myth of initiation for us is the ordeal of the knight apprentice, who rides out into the forest to test his mettle against the dark knight—or the dragon—and returns prepared to serve his queen.

What is integrity?  In simple terms, it is the fortitude to say fearlessly exactly what I mean, and do exactly what I say. Which implies, of course, a clear vision about who I am and what I am given to do.  If I’m in doubt or confusion, I lack resolve.  I dither.  The answer lies not in denying doubt and confusion—they are a part of being human.  No one escapes them.  In denying them I risk precipitous and futile action, when what I need first is to consult the inner wisdom that I’ve wrestled with myself to find, and rediscover the clarity before I act. A man of integrity is a man who “has his act together,” in the sense that his actions are in full congruence with his words.  He has “integrated” the four mainstays of his being: mind and body, feeling and spirit, and they are properly in balance. Action that is not backed by all four of these in unison–action that lacks thought, or heart, or energy, or purpose–is as ineffectual as the failure to act at all.

Inseparable from a man’s integrity, then, is the understanding that he has left behind the innocence of boyhood, along with the freedom that accompanied it.  He lives in a world of accountability to others and acknowledges his duty (yes, sorry, a quaint, old-fashioned concept!) to serve others than himself.   Sadly, it’s true that most of us fail to live up to this ideal.  We look around us, searching vainly for the most part for our Mahatma Gandhis, our Nelson Mandelas, our Martin Luther Kings—men who were certainly not lacking in the failings that made them human, but who managed to be magnificently greater than their weaknesses, and of spectacular, historical service to their fellow human beings.

We cannot all be men like these, but we can be men.  Without the challenge of traditional initiation rites, we are required to find, or invent, our own journey from boyhood into manhood.  It is no easy task to face the darkness and the inner demons that, without our awareness, can control our destinies.  All of us need some form of support as we make that journey: a church, perhaps, a spiritual guide, a trained therapist…  And the journey, for most of us, is never ending.  Who can sit back on his laurels and say with certainty: I have reached the fullness of my manhood?  Even in, at best, my last quarter here among the living, I still struggle with my own.

So we leave our young protagonist, in “Boyhood,” with the journey into manhood still ahead of him.  He may already have been initiated into sex and drugs, into the drudgery of work and now, finally, the college dormitory, but none of these has opened the door to the real, deep, inner work he will have to do if he is to become the man he needs to be if he is to fulfill his life’s destiny.  And that is yet to come…

Watch for Peter Clothier’s forthcoming novel about masculine sexuality, “The Pilgrim’s Staff” (an old euphemism for the penis.) It’s told by two narrators, a contemporary figure painter and and 18th century English gentleman.  Frank sex scenes and potboiler excitement!  Peter is a 1994 NWTA initiate, a one-time active Ritual Elder, and a well-known art writer.  His latest book, “Slow Looking: The Art of Looking at Art,” explores the values of contemplation and meditation.  Feel free to write him at peter clothier@mac.com.

The Transformational Power of Daily Rituals

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By Gonzalo Salinas

According to Charles Duhigg  author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, approximately 40% of what we do every day, we do unconsciously. We have formed a habit that we tend to repeat every day, and it’s making our choices for us.  

So, think about all the things  you do every day.  Some of them probably don’t serve your highest purpose but still, you repeat them religiously … even knowing specific behaviors are putting you away of the reality you want to live. Duhigg explains that every time you repeat those habits your brain reinforces them … so it craves, later on, this repetition. Even if is not beneficial, you get a neuro-chemical reward in your brain that not only will create some sort of addiction  but also reinforces the identity you have created for yourself.

I have tried many times to change bad habits and create new ones. With a sincere heart I must confess that I have failed more times than I have succeeded. But I noticed something happened every time I was succeeding; the positive new habits were daily rituals.

Yes. I do have rituals. Ritual - “a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.”  I repeat certain rituals every day, and believe me dear reader of the MKP Journal, to repeat an action every day, is not an easy task, especially when I am trying to create a new self.

Let me share some daily rituals hoping that this will inspire action to enhance lives.

I do my rituals first thing in the morning: I wake up and I go for a run. The running part is simple. I already told myself that as soon as I hear the alarm I must jump out of the bed. At the beginning it was hard, now is automatic. My recommendation is to avoid dealing with ANY logistics  - so your sportswear must be ready next to the bed from the previous night.

rising-sun

A second ritual is: I carry in my wallet one handwritten page. One side of the page is divided in two: on the left side I have a few statements: my flaws or weaknesses to become aware of what I want to change, and on the right side my good qualities and virtues to remind myself the tools I have for my own growth. Deliberately this second list is bigger than the first one.  On the other side of the paper I’ve written a brief composition about who I want to be. I’ve included goals and projects and a description of  how I see myself in the next three years.

I read this paper three times a day. As soon as I wake up, at lunch time, and before I go to sleep. It takes me two minutes each reading. When I read it I focus on staying present: just reading.

Third: In the morning I also do a brief visualization … right before I come back from running I stop and I visualize: It takes me three to five minutes. I visualize the same three goals I have written on the paper I carry on my wallet.

Finally, is my gratitude time. On a notebook I got specifically for gratitude, right before I go to sleep, I write three things that I’m grateful for that day. It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as “the kid I saw having some ice cream at Lincoln road in South Beach.” If I feel like writing it, I write it. Then I say a brief prayer, and I go to sleep.

These four rituals have changed my life dramatically in the last two years. Have I been 100% consistent with them?… absolutely not. I used to give to myself a guilt trip, this usually led me to abandon my regular practice for a while. If for some reason I miss my rituals now, instead of the self punishment, I just carry on.

That’s it. Just a couple of thing before I finish: You may notice that my rituals are very simple;  they are simple because when I create a complex plan, I find I’m planning to fail. Start small and keep going; it is a great exercise of self love.

And lastly, be creative with your rituals! Some people create a vision boards with images, others do mantras or incantations, others meditate or do breathing exercises. The rituals become habits because of  repetition, and the daily practice causes transformation.

I’ve got more from my 2 years of rituals than from my entire previous life without them. Use them and then you tell me!

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

Your Distraction Vortex – Purpose Block #3

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by Chris Kyle

If you missed the special Live Q&A call on April 15 for the Man on Purpose Course and want to listen to the audio, go to the Man on Purpose Course web site to listen.

Over the last week, I’ve shared with you the first two core Purpose Blocks which are:

Purpose Block #1 = the Fear Triad
Purpose Block #2 = the Doubting Voice

Now it’s time to explore the third of the 3 Purpose Blocks. Purpose Block #3 is the Distraction Vortex.

In our modern, media-saturated and technology-driven culture we have a never-ending list of things we can do in our daily lives to keep us busy and our schedules extremely full.

The daily choices are mind-boggling … TV shows, books, internet surfing, sports, phone calls, porn, email, movies, hobbies — and on and on and on. And all of this is in addition to our daily work (that hopefully pays the bills).

All these possible activities make up the Distraction Vortex: a swirling pool of constant and seemingly endless things TO DO … that can suck up all of our precious time.

None of these activities, in and of themselves, are inherently “good” or “bad.” However, if we are spending much of our time in the Distraction Vortex — there is a good chance that we are also distracting ourselves from what we might want most in our lives: deeper connection, greater joy, more meaning, and a clearer sense of purpose.

And because the journey into these states can be more subtle and unclear, it’s frankly easier and likely more soothing to numb-out or check-out with a juicy distraction like a TV show, a series of YouTube videos, or a trashy novel.

The challenge and question is, “How do I consciously navigate this Distraction Vortex, so it doesn’t suck up all of my time — and instead frees up my time for focusing on living more fully into my purpose?”

Here are three steps you can take to help set you free from the Distraction Vortex.

1. Slow Down and Observe Your Activity
The first step is to use whatever stillness practice you have, like meditation or mindfulness, to slow yourself down each day (and if you don’t have one, then start one), and begin to observe what pulls your attention toward what you would consider unhealthy distractions.

Then take on a one week “distraction awareness practice” by tracking where you are spending your time in the activities that you consider distractions. This brings to conscious awareness what activities YOU use as distractions to not face something else in your life.

2. Notice What You’re Avoiding
The second step is to notice what you may be avoiding in your life that the distractions helps you not have to face. It is typically something you don’t want to look at, and which makes you uncomfortable… something that you struggle with in your life.

Being more conscious of the activity, feeling or the energy that you’re avoiding helps to burst the bubble on your distraction patterns. Now you have the awareness to make a new choice about whether to engage the specific distractions or not.

3. Recommit with Support
As you see more clearly how your particular distractions don’t serve you, you can now recommit yourself to the actions and activities that truly support and serve you — your own growth and your purpose.

By declaring your commitment to the activities that feed your passions and purpose to another person close to you helps you stay accountable to not slipping back into the unhealthy distractions. This support is key to breaking out of the Distraction Vortex.

In the Man on Purpose Course, starting tomorrow (April 17, 2014), we spend two of the 7 weeks on looking at the patterns and habits that take us out of the fuller expression of our authentic power, creativity and purpose. This helps clear the way to bringing more energy and power to our purpose.

To your distraction-free purpose,
Chris

P.S. The Man on Purpose Course starts tomorrow, April 17th, and there’s still time to register and lock in your seat in the course. Go here to register for the course. One man who took the course last year said:

“The course opened me up to the desire and passion to start living as a man who lives to be more of service in all aspects of life. Not “what is my purpose?” but rather how to LIVE with purpose!” — Edward Werger

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

Curious about Why you are Here? Special Q&A Call!

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Special Q&A Call Tonight & Important Announcement

We’ve received a lot of great questions over the last week around the topic of purpose and wanting to know more about our upcoming course — Man On Purpose: The Essential 7-Week Online Course for Men which starts on April 17th.

As I mentioned in my last post, George Daranyi and I will be hosting a special interactive Q&A call tonight – Tuesday April 15th. We will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the course, and also about how you can access your hidden power to activate your passions and purpose in the world.

If you have any lingering questions about the course, please join this special Q&A call TONIGHT, MARCH 15TH at 5:30 pm Pacific Time to get the answers you need.

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Here’s how to access the Q&A Session with George and me:

TONIGHT at 5:30 pm Pacific / 8:30 pm Eastern / 12:30 am+1 UTC

To listen by webcast online, go to:

http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=54169320

To listen by phone dial:
Number: (425) 440-5100
Access code: 405934#

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A number of men who have experienced the work with us were eager to share how it had improved and changed their lives:

“They showed me how I had been asleep for most of my life, and how I needed to “awaken” and take charge of my life, to take responsibility and be accountable for my actions. In the program, I received the tools to get back into integrity with my family, my friends, and mainly with myself… I learned that it in order to make a difference in this world, to live into my purpose, I first had to change myself.” — Joe A.

“Chris’ approach helped me to see where I’m not showing up fully in my life and the shadows that were holding me back. His intuition and awareness guided me to confront these shadows and helped me stay present, even when it was uncomfortable. With Chris’s help, I found my growing edge and learned how to take what I experienced in the sessions into my professional and social life, my intimate relations and most of all, my inner journey. By experiencing this place of “deep knowingness”, purpose and fierce love, I experienced the essence of my true nature.” — Tim C.

I also wanted to let you know that our 3-payment option ends this Friday. So if you’re planning to register for the course and would benefit from the option of spreading the payments over three months, be sure to register by tomorrow to take advantage of this opportunity.

To learn more and register visit the course information page.

To living your purpose,
Chris Kyle & George Daranyi

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

What is your Doubting Voice keeping you from? – Purpose Block #2

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If you missed the first post: here are the 3 Purpose Blocks:
The Fear Triad
The Doubting Voice
The Distraction Vortex

As we move further along our purpose journey path we’re likely to run into the second purpose block: The Doubting Voice.

This Doubting Voice inside you might sound like this:

  • Do you really think you can live your purpose — what about making enough money for the family?
  • It sounds too risky to shift careers now… why would you want to do that?
  • Where will you get the support to take on this new project?
  • What happens if it doesn’t work out?
  • Do you think you have the talent to write your book, it’s really difficult…

Essentially, this inner voice is that part of our thought pattern that is negatively questioning everything we say or do.

And the problem is that when your Doubting Voice collides with your Calling, your unfolding purpose, then it wants to find all the ways to keep you from going to the “unknown edge” — to the places that you’ll have to extend yourself, to risk, and to grow in likely uncomfortable ways.

The Doubting Voice’s mission is to eliminate risk, keep things the “safe”, and to NOT be uncomfortable. This obviously puts you at odds with yourself at times, and why it is a core block to living your purpose.

So, how do we work with and neutralize our Doubting Voice?

I have found that the best way to work with the Doubting Voice is to make friends with it.

I know, easier said than done. But here’s my process of be-friending, or said another way, integrating my inner Doubter.

Start with naming the Doubting Voice in you. You might call it: Doubting Dude, or Cantankerous Cathy, or simply Mr. Doubter. What this does is twofold:

Brings lightness and humor to that part of ourselves that is pretty heavy and a limiter to our full, authentic expression
Allows the witnessing part of yourself to arrive so you can see the bigger perspective beyond your fearful, doubting ego-mind thoughts/voices.

Then it’s time to have a brief dialogue with your Doubter. It flows like this:

“Mr. Doubter, do you have some true wisdom for me that I should know about?” Here you’re investigating for important information that might be in the doubting voice. A grain of truth that you feel may be important to the issue at hand. Listen to what comes back.

Then say to yourself: “Thank you for sharing. I don’t need you at this time. I’m now going to make room for a choice that is for my highest good – my empowered choice.”

And now there is space for you to make a new choice toward your purpose, toward that which brings you more alive.

In the Man on Purpose Course, George Daranyi and I will speak on how to turn your negative inner voices (what we call Inner Bullies) into allies for your growth and expansion. So, I encourage you to let your Doubting Voice be the new fuel for your growth, for a deeper self-acceptance, that will bring more energy and clarity to your purpose work.

To your purpose adventure,
Chris

P.S. George and I are hosting a special live Q&A Call on Tuesday, April 15th at 5:30 pm PT / 8:30 pm ET to answer all your questions about the upcoming Man on Purpose Course, which starts on April 17th. Mark you calendars now and we’ll be sending out Access Details on Monday. Go here to learn more and register for the course.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

What stops you from claiming or more fully living your purpose?

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The challenge I see constantly with people who want clarity of purpose, or want to bring more energy or focus to it, is that there’s at least one BIG block (if not several) in their life that’s keeping them from being fully engaged and lit up by their purpose.

I’d like to share with you the top 3 Purpose Blocks that I’ve discovered through the purpose work I’ve done with hundreds of people over the years; and then how to move through these blocks. Today I’ll focus on Purpose Block #1.

Here are the 3 Purpose Blocks:

  1. The Fear Triad
  2. The Doubting Voice
  3. The Distraction Vortex

Purpose Block #1 is the Fear Triad. I have consistently found three specific fears that people face when diving into discovering their purpose, OR when they are trying to put the vision of their purpose into action in the world. The three core purpose fears are:

  • Fear of Survival (mostly financial)
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Ridicule

The survival instinct is deeply rooted in our old brain, the reptilian brain, and is now, in our modern culture, mostly connected with our financial resources.

So the Fear of Survival unfolds like this: If you choose to go after your purpose, living it fully, then it may drain ALL your resources and/or not be sustainable in the future, and you won’t “make it” —  you won’t survive. You won’t be able to pay the bills and feed your family. So, it’s just easier to avoid the question about purpose altogether than to face the possibility that you might not survive by living the “fantasy” of your purpose.

The Fear of Failure inside our purpose exploration can become more pronounced because the call of our purpose may stretch us into unknown areas, or test us with new approaches or concepts.

It may unfold like this: If you go for what you really want, your purpose, and fail; then you’ve failed on the really BIG one in life — living your purpose.” This would not just be failing on a project or a task, but may have the sense of a “whole-person failure” — the message being: “I am a failure in my life.”
The Fear of Ridicule unfolds like this: if your purpose is calling you to do something different in your life, to take on a new vision for your life with a new set of actions, you may find yourself misunderstood by family, friends, colleagues and maybe even your partner.

This exposes you to people’s reactions, their own fear and their ridicule. The fear may arise that you’ll be laughed, belittled or rejected because your ideas seem non-conventional or simply strange to others.
So, here is the 3-step flow of how to work with these natural fears in the Fear Triad:

> Awareness of the Fear 
Notice and acknowledge the fear. It is important to pause yourself and take a deeper look inside at what these fears are for you. Name them in your OWN way and in your words. Bringing them out of the shadow and into the light of your conscious mind is the first step.

> Allow and Embrace
Once you are aware of your unique flavor of the fear, then you’re ready to embrace this fear as simply a part of you and a mechanism that your ego-mind uses to keep you safe.

This means accepting the fear with self-compassion and seeing it as a natural part of your growth and evolution as a human being. It’s important for you to watch your tendency to push the fear away, to deny it or pretend it’s not there.

> Open to a New Choice
As you allow and embrace your fear, it begins to lose its hold and power over you. It may still be there, but it’s been seen, named and embraced. So, now it’s time to make a new choice that supports your highest growth and calling in the moment.

What you thought was just not possible before because of one of these fears, now may seem possible. Make a NEW choice that serves you and your passionate, creative expression.

In the Man on Purpose 7-Week Online Course we teach you a powerful tool called the Reframing Process that will help you reframe your fear messages and shift them to new possibilities and new choices.
Go to our course information page to learn more.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

Wake up call

Category: Memoir 
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by Gonzalo Salinas

Every morning after my run on the beach and my morning rituals, as I drive to work, I see the kids from the South Beach Elementary crossing the street, I see the cuban windows full of people buying their morning cafe cubano, I see the many yoga fans carrying their mat to their morning practice and I see the magic atmosphere of the beach waking up and starting the day.

I cross the MacArthur causeway admiring the breathtaking view, with the Miami skyline and the port of Miami on one side and the mansions in front of the ocean and the Miami bay on the other one. I take the I95, my usual shortcut to the roads in Coral Way to get to my office.

I’m grateful for all the things I get to see every morning. Why? Because everything I get to see every day is a blessing. I know it firsthand…

south beach

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved to play. I was always organizing the games. I remember always playing with my older brothers, with my friends or my cousins.  Inventing games, running, jumping, screaming … one of my favorites was playing soccer with a paper ball covered in duct tape. I was always busy being a kid.

Sometimes at school, the bell rang earlier than usual. I was very happy because I had the chance to go home and play, but, at that young age,  I wasn’t aware of how dangerous the reason was of why they were sending us home hours before the end of the school day.

My grade school was threatened by the terrorist movements of Shining Path or the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Both terrorist groups that had taken my city, Lima,  and were destroying everything they touched. When they threatened the school, the only solution was sending everyone home for the day. Most of the time, these were false alarms, somebody calling for no reason,  but in the rest of the city, you couldn’t go to a cafe or a restaurant because the terrorist were bombing the commercial areas, public offices, banks, private companies and every public place you could possibly imagine, spreading chaos and terror all over Lima and the rest of the country.

I grew up on that environment, without being aware of the constant risk that was just walking on the streets of my city. In 12 years of horror from 1980 to 1992, the result was approximately 70 thousand people killed. Fortunately the Peruvian government was able to bring the terror to an end.

There are many places in the world right now, like Pakistan, Iraq or Somalia where terrorism is part of the daily life. I feel so blessed to live where I live now. And I am awake – awake to the reality that not everyone experiences the world I live in. And I am also responsible for staying awake.

So every morning, I am grateful for what I see on my way to work. Gratitude, for me, is the opposite of fear. Be grateful for what you have and send your positive energies or say a prayer for those places where terror is the reality. I pray for a world where all the kids can go to the streets, and play.

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

Lighting the Darkness – Lumos

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Guest Post

New Warrior Brother Michael Marlin from Hawaii will enlighten audiences with his stage production of LUMA: Art in Darkness during a ten-city tour at performing art centers across the country beginning March 28th.

A top comedy juggler who played Las Vegas and opened for the likes of Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and REM, Marlin walked away from his successful solo career in 1986. He sold his house in Redondo Beach, CA and moved to the island of Hawaii to co-found an alternative community while building and living in a tree house with no electricity.

In 1989 while standing on an active lava flow he noticed the hypnotic effect it had on people and had the epiphany, “All life is drawn to light.”

This was the genesis of LUMA, a show that has now appeared in 15 countries, 44 states and has been touring since 1998. LUMA, with a cast of seven, is a show about the subject of light that combines all manner of physical disciplines from rhythmic gymnastics, puppetry, magic, dance, acrobatics, physics and experimental methods.

Fused with a myriad of light technology from incandescent to bioluminescent, from LEDs to lasers, the tour will take it from Arizona to Massachusetts over a five-week period.

“Three years ago Marlin came to Houston and opened with his juggling act,” Sonny Elliot, a ManKind Project ritual elder recalls, “[LUMA] was a brilliant and over-the-top performance. With the ‘visual’ music and ‘technical’ dancing, along with the crowd’s enthusiasm, it was a home run.”

In manifesting his vision of LUMA, Marlin encountered a lot of skepticism. He has stayed true to his brainchild, expanding the show and building on new technology as it has evolved, watching as other artists have recently flirted with some of the theatrical light elements he has pioneered, popularizing it on shows like “America’s Got Talent”.

Marlin has long been a pioneer and visionary. His work in the field of comedy and juggling back in the 70’s and early 80’s influenced a generation of jugglers who followed. Barry Friedman from the ManKind Project in Northern California and half of the juggling duo “The Raspini Brothers”, reports, “I remember standing in our family kitchen when I was 18 years old and seeing Michael Marlin on a TV show called Real People.”

“It showed me a bigger picture of what was possible if I stuck with juggling: the possibility of having fun and making people laugh. Marlin has continued to raise the bar both artistically and professionally. His show LUMA has brilliantly merged the visual appeal of juggling with the mind-boggling technology of electronically controlled lighting.”

COME SEE LUMOS

Come see LUMOS this spring.

“The journey to take a vision bigger than one person can pull off and turn it into a physical manifestation with so many moving parts was daunting,” says Marlin. “The work I have done in the ManKind Project has helped me in an incalculable way in my ability to lead others in a clean way and not pull my hair out, (or theirs) when things don’t go as planned.”

“I have no doubt that the ripples Marlin is making in the lives of both his audiences and the members of his cast will spread out and touch millions of lives,” said Friedman.

Ticket information and videos of LUMA can be found online at http://www.lumatheater.com.

Show Schedule:

March 26th Gilbert, AZ – Higley Center
April 4th Ft. Collins, CO – Lincoln Center
April 6th Santa Fe, NM – Lensic Theater
April 7th Las Vegas, NM – University of New Mexico Highland Center
April 11th Chippewa Falls, WI – Heyde Center
April 12th Madison, WI – Barrymore Theater
April 13th Schaumberg, IL – Prairie Performing Arts Center
April 20/21st Roanoke, VA – Jefferson Center
April 27th Storrs, CT – University of Connecticut Jorgensen Center
April 29th Queens, NY – Queens College
May 2nd Worcester, MA – Hanover Theater

Video: “The Revolution is Love” with Charles Eisenstein

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shared by Chris Kyle

This powerful 4-minute video features Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, from a documentary about the Occupy Movement. Charles will be a featured speaker at the ManKind Project USA’s upcoming Power of Purpose Online Summit in March 2014 (more details are coming soon).

I love Charles’ last line of this video clip: “…Everybody has a unique calling and it’s really time to listen to that. That’s what the future is going to be. It’s time to get ready for it, and contribute to it, and help make it happen.”

Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is the author of 6 books includingSacred Economics, The Ascent of Humanity and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

“Remember that self-doubt is as self-centered as self-inflation. Your obligation is to reach as deeply as you can and offer your unique and authentic gifts as bravely and beautifully as you’re able.”
— Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft*

* Bill is also speaking at the Power of Purpose Summit in March.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

My Elder Soul ~ a poem

Category: Men as Elders, Poetry 
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by Reuel Czach

Elders, we are losing our Soul.
We are so caught up individually in petty offenses
and bickering and wounded-ness,
that we are letting our civilization and our planet die.
But most importantly,
we are letting our souls die.

When I chose to be wounded,
and walk through life withdrawn in my cave,
or I choose to be over-armored,
to the point of being weighed down,
with such heavy baggage,
nothing else matters,
…..my soul is lost.

I chose to take a step toward claiming,
my lost soul,
when I chose to meet with men in an honest, open circle.

I choose my soul,
when I decide to be so humble,
that no one can offend me.

I choose my soul,
when I chose wisdom,
over being right.

I choose my soul,
when I chose service,
over selfishness.

I choose my soul,
when I chose looking within,
to find all the evil I see outside myself.

I choose my soul,
when I walk the path of life,
where I am nothing,
and I am everything,
in sacred balance.
My choices mean everything,
my offenses mean nothing.

My offenses mean I still have inner work to do
and for the sake of generations to come,
I better get it done as quickly as possible.

My choices mean I have the power to save myself,
my loved ones, my friends, and possibly many more people,
from a mean, selfishness and a lonely death.

I feel great sadness and sorrow,
for all that is being lost.

While the distractions of hurt,
wounded-ness and bickering,
suck so much energy out of my soul,
…..and the soul of my people.

Every hurt and wound and chance to be right,
is a mirror of my soul,
and an opportunity to heal.

Do it! Choose healing.
Then choose wisdom and kindness,
and be the Elder you were meant to be.

Distractions are my enemy,
anything that tries to pull me off,
my narrow mission.

I just need to let Spirit control my life,
where my spirit joins and serves,
a much bigger wisdom,
than I could ever fully understand.

I am asked this day to request of myself,
and men who call themselves Elders.
A humble request,
that we focus on the wisdom to light a path,
for those who come after us.
Humble man, Jan 2014

Reuel Czach

Reuel Czach is a 60 year old, Christian man with a wonderful wife and two sons, a daughter and a stepson. He has lived in San Luis Obispo County, California for over 30 years and practiced architecture for most of those years. Czach is an I-Group Coordinator for the Swallow Creek Coastal Circle in Cayucos. He actively supports and builds the Elder community in San Luis Obispo and is the Co-Elder Chair of the MKP Santa Barbara Community. Czach leads a weekly men’s circle in my church and is a leader in the men’s ministry.

My Purpose Over My Relationship?

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by Chris Kyle

I came across this quote from David Deida (author of Way of the Superior Man) a couple of days ago:

“Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority.”

I have to say right off the bat, that when I first read this quote I thought to myself… do I have to choose one OVER the other?

And then another part of me stood up (in my head, of course) and said “that’s right, achieving my highest purpose would definitely rock!”

Clearly there’s a conflict running inside me regarding how I prioritize living my purpose as a man, and where I place my relationship.

So, as I look at my own life to investigate this question of the priority of purpose, I do see that I am most alive, engaged and passionate when I’m doing what I love, giving my gifts and bringing my purpose forward to serve others.

And if I decided to choose my relationship OVER living fully into my purpose, I think a part of me would shrivel up. And I know that my power and confidence would be diminished in the world.

And at the end of the day, I don’t want living my purpose to hurt or damage my relationship with my wife. I know that I can give my full presence and heart to my relationship without sacrificing my purpose.

But real juice and fire in our relationship comes from me making bold choices to follow my heart and gut, and give my gifts, my purpose with passion and without apology. And my wife finds this super sexy and is proud of me even during the times I am putting my purpose work above our relationship time.

The twist here is that in my experience living boldly into my purpose, with all the triumphs and failures that goes with that, my relationship thrives.

And of course, my purpose as I shared it above applies to my wife as well (she’s a “being” too), and so I can be in my purpose through supporting her on her path of growth.

What I hear from many men that I work with is that they are trying so hard to make their relationship work or to please their partner so they can have a more harmonious and “easy” life.

The challenge of putting their relationship above the full expression of their purpose, is that it diminishes the energy, fire and confidence in themselves that could infuse the relationship with much needed passion or juiciness.

So here’s how I have learned to hold this priority tension between relationship and purpose. I give my full presence, attention and heart to my relationship whenever we are together. I am not half-there or checked out because I’m thinking about work, or half-listening to her because my purpose work is invading my thoughts and it’s THE PRIORITY.

Rather, when I’m engaged in my purpose work, I’m there fully and making that a priority in my life even if it means making some difficult choices about the time I spend with my wife.

I find that the natural balance arises when I am passionately engaged in my purpose AND I bring that juice and fire into my relationship with full presence and an open heart — regardless of how much time we have with each other (days or minutes).

And you know, I still reserve the right to make my relationship the focus of my purpose at any given time if it needs it and demands more of me for a period of time. How’s that for a slick caveat — and it’s been true at specific times in my life.

Keep working your purpose edge, bring full presence to each moment, keep your heart open and you’ll see your life soar… in both your purpose AND your relationship.

CK

P.S. What do you think? Leave a comment!

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

The World Needs More Elders

Category: Fatherhood, Men as Elders 
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By Donald Clerc

What’s the difference between being an Elder and being elderly?  I never really thought about that question until joining the ManKind Project two years ago.

I’m 57, have three grown children, one young grandchild, and own my own business.  So I’ve “been around the block” a few times and have learned a thing or two along the way.  But no one had challenged me on what I can do with that experience and wisdom in this second half of my life.

What are the characteristics of an Elder?  We all know of older people who do not behave in an Elder way.  And we also know of younger people who already exhibit Elder-like qualities.  Here’s what I see are some of the qualities and behaviors of an Elder:

•       Speaking the truth with authority and wisdom.
•       Speaking with kindness and a fierce authenticity at the same time.
•       Having a gracious and open heart.
•       Standing for higher values and strong standards of behavior.
•       Drawing the line against counterproductive behavior.
•       Giving, serving, honoring and blessing others.
•       Standing in responsible support of leaders.
•       Knowing when all you need to do is be present and listen.

Old-PeopleBeing an Elder is not the same as being elderly.  Just because you are older doesn’t make you wise.  And if you don’t share that hard-won wisdom with others, then you are not benefiting society as an Elder.

Being an Elder is not the same as being a leader.  The Elder looks out for the leaders and the lead alike.  The Elder uses his wisdom and experience for the good of everyone.  His honesty and values help the young to mature and help the already mature to stay in touch with their core values.

Many other societies honor their Elders.  It seems like our materialistic society only honors those people (young or old) who buy things, make things, or do things.  How does one get honored for being and sharing wisdom?  Elders can help the younger generations focus on developing their core values and stop being overly focused on material things.

Where can today’s Elders practice their craft?  I grew up in a Presbyterian church, which is run by Elders by design.  But outside of organized religion, schools and businesses, where else can Elders give of their gifts?  If our communities can learn to utilize all of this elder wisdom in an organized way, everyone benefits.

What stops older people from stepping into the role of the Elder?  The first obstacle to overcome is the assumption or lack of awareness that one is already an Elder simply because one has already experienced a half-century or more of life.  The second obstacle is a lack of training on Elder-like behaviors.  These behaviors are not difficult to learn – what most people need to learn are how to undo the negative habits that inhibit or cover their natural Elder qualities from coming out.

In conclusion, young people need more Elders in their lives.  They grow up easier and with more maturity.  I think it’s time for older people need to step into their roles as Elders.  This gives them a greater sense of fulfillment and contribution to society than continuing the consumerist behaviors of when they were younger.

What we still need are a way to train more people in the second half of their life to embrace their inner Elder.  And we need to develop more avenues in society where Elders can give of their gifts to others.

Donald Clerc is a computer technologist and entrepreneur.  He has over 30 years experience working with computers, and started his own computer consulting company 16 years ago.  Before that he was an associate school psychologist.  Donald is married (for over 35 years), has three grown children and one grandchild. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2011 and is a declared Elder in the Houston MKP Community.

How we feel emotions in our Body

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by Boysen Hodgson

from Discover Magazine

Research done by a group of scientists, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals some interesting facts about how human beings experience emotions in their bodies. For men involved in the ManKind Project, it was a nice affirmation of what we’ve been teaching and practicing for nearly 30 years.

In the ManKind Project, we see and hear men struggle to describe or name what they’re feeling. Mad? Sad? Glad? Afraid? Ashamed? They frequently have an easy time saying what they think, or making statements that express judgment about what is happening around them, but when asked to name the emotional state they’re experiencing … many men are stumped. For most of us, this is a result of being raised in families and in a culture that doesn’t teach or model emotional literacy.

To help men learn what they are feeling and be able to name it; without expectation of changing it or shame for feeling it, we teach men to look their bodies for clues.

“What sensations are you feeling?”
“Where are the sensations in your body?”
“What color (shape, size, texture) might it have?”
and finally …
“If you were to give it a name … mad, sad, glad, afraid, ashamed … what would you call it?”

This basic template for exploration begins to tease apart the stories and narratives in our minds from the raw physical experience we are having in our bodies. Often this is the first step in decoupling habits of reaction so that men can make changes in their behaviors and beliefs about themselves and the world.

Emotion – the felt sense, the hormonal and neurological chain-reaction set into motion by thoughts and experiences of the world – is one of the most powerful sources of information we can harness to improve ourselves and have a positive impact on the world. Many of us create habits of denial, repression, and avoidance of our emotions that have wide ranging personal, interpersonal, and cultural impacts in our communities.

This is a great time to bear witness to the cultural awakening that is underway.

Men’s Work – the difficult and fantastic process of waking up, growing up, and showing up in the world for the benefit of humanity – is main-stream. As soon as this article was published, ManKind Project men from around the world were sharing it with quips about printing it out as a quick reference guide for men beginning the exhilarating process of connecting ‘head’ and ‘heart.’

Here is the link to the article:
How we feel emotions in our body

Boysen Hodgson

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications and Marketing Director for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Boysen received his BA with Honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, after completing 2 years of Design coursework at Cornell University. He has been helping companies and individuals design the change they wish to see in the world for 15 years. He’s a dedicated husband.

20 Diagnostic Signs That You’re Suffering From “Soul Loss” . Article by Lissa Rankin

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by Gonzalo Salinas

I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Lissa Rankin. I think she saved me by helping me understand what was happening in my life. I was training for a triathlon, and I wasn’t feeling good. My body couldn’t take it anymore and when I went to three different doctors, they each ran some tests, and the result was the same: Everything was all right.

But I wasn’t feeling good. One night as I was leaving work, checking my email, I found a video in my inbox, I can’t recall now who it was from. The title was  The shocking truth about your health by Dr. Lissa Rankin. It was a TED talk from 2011 (I included it below). After watching the entire video, I was hooked. I ordered her book Mind Over Medicine, and I started a healing process that was more related to a daily practice of my passion than to a pathology.

Lissa Rankin is a brave soul fighting against a system that treats our bodies like machines. Her armament to fight the battle: LOVE. She says her mission is to highlight the “care in the health-care.”  I consider her work an amazing opportunity for every doctor, healer, therapist, shaman, people involved with medicine or any kind of healing practice to learn and grow in their practice.

She is on a mission. And she is being recognized. I pray that she continues healing humankind.

Here is a link to a great article she wrote. Check it out, and consider getting involved:

20 Diagnostic Signs That You’re Suffering From “Soul Loss”


 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

McDonald’s Drive-Thru, 8:23am

Category: Fatherhood, Memoir 
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by Wentworth Miller

McDonald’s
Williams, California
December 23, 2013
8:32 AM (approx.)

I pull into the drive-thru, empty except for the giant white Suburban ahead of me, coming abreast of the callbox, like a yacht docking. When the window rolls down I can see the driver in his side mirror. Male, bald, mid 30s.

The intercom crackles as a McDonald’s employee pitches whatever it is he/she’s been ordered to pitch at the top of the order. Given the season, presumably something holiday-ish. High on fructose.

My window’s rolled up so I can’t hear their exchange, but I can see the man’s lips moving, his eyes grazing the menu. He turns away from the callbox, addresses someone inside the Suburban, asking what they’d like for breakfast. Presumably.

That’s when I notice how many people he’s got with him. A literal carload. I see multiple heads. Most of them small. This guy’s got four or five kids in there. At least. Plus the wife. All of whom want breakfast. None of whom have ever been to a McDonald’s, apparently, because the man behind the wheel is talking them through the entire fucking menu. Every last item. Apparently.

The intercom crackles again and I glance in my rearview mirror, see two cars waiting behind me, their exhaust commingling with mine as the seconds tick by.

I look back at Suburban Dad, silently willing him to hurry it up. He does not. He’s smiling, taking his time, making sure he’s getting everybody’s order right.

I imagine his voice in my head.

“Yeah… can I get a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit? No wait – Lexie’s allergic to cheese. Can I get a Bacon & Egg Biscuit no cheese? No wait – can you make that a McMuffin? Can I get a Sausage McMuffin with Egg? No cheese. Lexie can’t have cheese.” (McCetera.)

All I want is a large coffee with 2 creamers on the side.

Unfortunately for me, Dad, Mom, Lexie, and Lexie’s thirty-six brothers and sisters are going to need several more minutes to make up their minds.

I sigh and look to my left, try to distract myself with the view outside my window. But there’s nothing to see. Just a flat, dry expanse stretching to the horizon, a bleak winter vista of grays, browns and beiges in this Dust Bowl Created By Congress (if the billboards lining the 5 are to be believed).

I turn my gaze back to the Suburban, zeroing in on Dad (again), still framed in his side mirror. He’s stroking his chin, looking over the menu (again). Considering His Options. I didn’t know people still stroked their chins.

I look in my rearview mirror, see there are now three cars behind me. Here comes the fourth.

Several scenarios run through my head.

1st Scenario: I tap my horn twice. Beep Beep. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I smile. Shrug. Like, “Could you hurry it up, please?”

2nd Scenario: I violently stab my car horn. BLAP. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I lift my hands. Shrug. Like, “Whoops – didn’t mean to hit the horn. But while I have your attention, could you hurry it up, please?”

3rd Scenario: I violently stab my car horn. And hold it. BLAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPP. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I stare him down. Like, “Yeah. You heard me.” He sticks his head out the window, looks back at me. “You gotta problem?” Maybe he actually opens his door, gets out and walks back to my car, wants to find out what my problem is face to face. (This scenario could lead to violence. Fisticuffs. A McFlurry of punches.)

4th Scenario: Someone behind me taps THEIR horn. Beep Beep. Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I lift my hands. Shrug. Like, “Hey – wasn’t me, buddy. But while we have your attention…”

My fingers drum the steering wheel.

Then, at last, he’s done. Miracle of miracles. I sweep in behind the Suburban the second it moves forward, colonizing the space it so recently occupied. If it were a seat it would still be warm. Now it’s mine. All mine. I have my window rolled down. I am breathless with impatience. Ready to order.

“Hi and welcome to McDonald’s! Would you like to try our new -”

“Can I get a large black coffee with two creamers on the side?”

“Will that complete your order?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Your total is f – ”

I drive past the callbox and up to the first window, the window where you pay. Or at least I try to. But the Suburban’s still there. Idling. Of course. I can’t tell if Dad’s paid and waiting for change or if he’s still digging around looking for exact coinage.

I lift my weary eyes to the top of his vehicle, spot a rooftop cargo carrier. Black. Sizable. I wonder what’s inside. Body parts maybe. Or Christmas presents. Body parts wrapped as Christmas presents. They’re probably on their way to Grandma’s house. Or a vacation cabin. (‘Tis the season.)

I see movement out of the corner of my eye, catch a McDonald’s employee handing Dad back his credit card and receipt. Dad says something in return (thank you?). Smiles. This guy’s all fucking smiles. A regular chucklehead. Apparently.

Dad says something else to the employee (Merry Christmas?). Then, instead of driving forward and keeping the line moving, instead of showing a degree of awareness and/or respect for the fact that he/they are not alone in this drive-thru and/or world, Dad stays where he is. I see him looking down at his lap, fussing with something. His credit card maybe. He’s putting it back in his wallet. THEN he’ll move forward.

For fuck’s sake.

One of the kids must’ve said something funny because now Dad is laughing, hard, head thrown back. I see gums in the side mirror, a small black gullet ringed by tiny white teeth.

The 1st Scenario pops into my head again, the one where I tap my horn twice. Beep Beep. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror, brow furrowing. I smile, shrug. “Could you hurry it up, please?” Dad gives me the stink-eye but pulls forward, allowing me to pay for my coffee at the first window. A minute later I’m back on the 5, nursing my cup of joe and listening to some tunes, inner monologue re: the family in the white Suburban being rapidly replaced by thoughts re: me. And lunch. Then me again.

Meanwhile – still 1st Scenario – the Suburban’s back on the road as well, but now Dad’s mood has soured. He’s still thinking (brooding) about that asshole behind him at McDonald’s, the one who honked his horn. The one who wanted him/them to hurry the fuck up. That honk felt personal. Like an insult. Dad thinks maybe he should’ve gotten out of the car and walked back there, found out what that guy’s problem was face to face. Yeah. Maybe he should have. Dad knows he ought to let it slide but can’t, has never been good at shrugging things off. His fingers drum the steering wheel.

Dad’s wife sits next to him, tense, eyes front, shoulders climbing up to her ears. There’s been a change in the weather and she knows it. She’s heard this record before. She gives her husband a look, assessing the situation, finger to the wind, waiting to see where this will go. But she can guess.

Lexie and her thirty-six brothers and sisters sit behind them, subdued now. There’s been a change in the weather and they know it. They eat quietly, trying not to crinkle their Sausage McMuffin with Egg wrappers too loudly. To no avail.

One of them is an hour and 42 minutes away from getting slapped.

It might happen sooner. It might happen later. But it’s happening.

I sit in the drive-thru with my foot on the brake, staring at the backs of those little heads in the Suburban in front of me, wondering which of them it will be.

Do I know for sure that honking my horn means one of those kids is getting slapped?

Of course not.

Would I really be responsible if the former resulted in the latter?

No. That’s absurd.

Ish.

If Lexie and her thirty-six brothers and sisters are growing up in an environment where slapping occurs, slapping will occur, no matter how quietly they eat their breakfasts. No matter how many drivers refrain from honking at Dad, palms will meet cheeks.

Guaranteed.

But I don’t want to be a link in that chain.

So I still my fingers on the steering wheel and leave my horn unhonked. I will wait the extra 5 minutes for my morning coffee. I will let Dad – still chuckling, by the way – pull forward to the pick-up window when he’s good and ready.

Fine by me.

When he does I follow behind, moving well under 5 mph. When I stop next to the pay window, I brake so gently I can barely tell I’ve braked at all. Or that I was ever moving.

I’ve got my bills and exact change ready. $4.34. I extend my closed fist toward the window as it slides open, revealing a ponytailed teenager in a McDonald’s visor and faded parka. She smiles apologetically, nods toward the Suburban in front of me. Shrugs. Says, “Sorry about the wait. That guy took forever, huh?”

Wentworth Miller

Born in England, raised in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Princeton University, Wentworth Miller is a compelling and critically acclaimed young actor whose credits span both television and feature film. Learn more about Wentworth Miller at IMdb. Miller is a member of the ManKind Project USA, Los Angeles Community.

Embrace Bad Experiences Like a Warrior

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by Shawn Rhodes

What I remember most about the first time someone tried to take my life was how good the water tasted.

It was spring of 2004, and I was in a cargo vehicle full of infantry Marines. We headed out to protect an overpass used as a supply route to Baghdad. It was being shelled regularly by the local Jihad constabulary. The big, clunky vehicle pulled under the bridge and we waited for further orders. Apparently, it’s a bad idea to park a vehicle in a spot the enemy has plenty of experience hitting. We immediately began receiving incoming mortar fire.

I heard the order to abandon the vehicle, and I was two people from the rear hatch. The man closest to the back jumped the 12 feet from the truck bed to the ground, rolled on the pavement and ran for cover as the rounds rained around him. The second man followed, and was peppered by shrapnel along the right side of his body. The rounds came in half-second increments, and when they hit the pavement around us, it was like geysers opened. Smoke, gravel, and pieces of steel sprayed up and out like jets of black steam. I jumped from the vehicle and a mortar exploded underneath me.

The next thing I remember was swinging from the rear tailgate of the huge truck as it lurched forward. One hand gripping the steel while the rest of me banged around against the bumper. I dropped to the ground and checked myself – no wounds. When we finally settled in for the night, I realized I’d never been so thirsty. That lukewarm, stale, chlorinated water tasted like it had come from the Swiss alps.

I share this story because I want to jog your memory. I want you to remember the elation that comes from surviving. More importantly, I want to share with you a key principle of living a life with Shoshin, Beginner’s Heart:

The best moments occur when you push yourself (or are pushed) beyond what you think you can handle. It is what you do with that victory, however, that defines the rest of your life.

Trauma is a well-recognized and ancient way of bringing oneself to the brink of what we think we can handle. If someone survives, it changes them forever. Many of the veterans I fought with are still coming to terms with what they experienced on the battlefield. These folks were certainly physically stronger than I was, most were smarter, and our training desensitized all of us to violence. So why do some of us return after these experiences re-dedicated to fulfilling our life’s purpose, while so many leave their life’s passions in the desert sands?

People hurt us. Others are taken too early. What do we do with the emptiness echoing within? The solution may surprise you – it’s not forgiving and forgetting, and it’s certainly not pretending it didn’t happen. If an event in life challenges your reason for living as fully as possible, pick up the mantle of the warrior again. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a warrior, the spirit of service lives within you. It is your human calling and it’s a way to embrace challenge in life.

Think of the most traumatic events in your life, and the details involved. Remember of how things felt or smelled. Record it on a piece of paper. If these memories don’t feel like an unhealed wound, you’ve already done the healing work of a spirit-warrior or your life is blessedly free of trauma.

What do you want to invite back into your life? Playfulness? Unbridled joy? Trust? Write it down. If it’s stumping you, ask friends or family who knew you before and after the event noticed any changes.

If the event re-played itself in your mind every hour (and it does for some of us, doesn’t it?), what would you do to make the memory bearable? This is assuming you’re tired of avoiding the memory and are ready to regain what you lost.
Warriors are called to live a life of excellence. Striving to be fulfilled brings lessons of both victories and defeats. What separates a warrior from a victim is what they choose to do with the rest of their lives. Like all life-issues, the faster you run, the faster they pursue. Warriors don’t run, hiding behind alcohol, drugs, or pretending something didn’t happen. A warrior does what they love – they revel in playing on the battlefield of their lives.

Of course, the events that shaped us no longer exist, except in the past and in our memories. You see, the place warriors reclaim lost parts of themselves is within their present moments. It’s there we walk the path. Remember, a warrior is one who serves a higher calling. If you’re reading this and you’ve survived the traumatic events of your life, it’s safe to say you want to make the most of your present moments. Your higher purpose, your passion, your call to live with your own beginner’s heart is echoing through you into your empty spaces so that you can act on it. You deserve to live an excellent life.

So how do we bring what we’re missing back into our lives? As any martial artist will tell you, once you learn a ‘difficult technique’ it’s a forehead-slapping experience when you think of how much you struggled to perform something so simple.

But that technique, that missing piece and that life you dream about will never materialize unless you begin practicing. You have to send out what you want to bring into your life. Start now. Laugh at every opportunity. Trust in small increments until you can turn your life back over to the universe. Practice giving others the things you’re missing and savor the return as it flows back into your life. Seize those moments and taste them; drink deeply.

As John Turturro said in O Brother, Where Art Thou:

“Come on in boys, the water is fine.”

Shawn Rhodes

As an award-winning Marine war correspondent, Shawn Rhodes traveled to more than two dozen countries fighting alongside U.S. Marines. His stories and photos have been featured in TIME , CNN and MSNBC in addition to major wire services. He was a top combat reporter in the military and recognized by Congress for sharing the warrior’s lifestyle with the public. He then lived and trained at a martial arts temple in Japan, learning how the warrior’s mindset could be used for victory in battles and boardrooms. Currently he is a successful speaker and coach, teaching people to achieve success and happiness using the methods he learned from warriors around the world. He was initiated at the NWTA in October of 2013. Find out more about Shawn Rhodes at his web site: Shoshin Consulting

Resolutions? Changes? A New Endeavor? Remember this…

Category: Men and Mission 
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guest post: by Patricia Clason

Thinking about “growing” some goals, making some changes, starting something new? Whether you are making changes for growing your business or a having a more satisfying personal life, you may want to remember this story.

Wanting to fill his yard with the smell of lilacs, the man planted several bushes in his garden. After a few weeks, he was frustrated because they hadn’t blossomed and he pulled them up and replanted them in another part of the garden. “Perhaps they’ll get more sun here and then blossom,” he thought. A month later, they still hadn’t blossomed.

So he pulled them up and replanted in another area of the garden, this time angrier than before. In the fall, the bushes still hadn’t blossomed so he pulled them out and threw them away!

Immediate gratification. American society is programmed for it – a pill to take away the headache, a candy bar for instant energy, a credit card so you can buy what you want right now. We want what we want and we want it when we want it.

We forget that the world is made of cycles and processes. The lilac bushes needed a season to settle into the earth and send down roots. Nature gives us the wonderful example of seeds needing to build root systems before they sprout above ground and grow into the plant they were meant to be.

In your business or personal life, have you been pulling up the roots, replanting in what you thought might be sunnier spots, only to find that you aren’t getting the blossoms you yearn for? Perhaps it would be best if take the time to nurture a root system.

Get grounded. Explore through books and seminars the possibilities and potentials available to you. Make sure that you are not operating out of anxiousness, frustration, anger, stress or fatigue. The choices we make at emotional times are often not well processed through our “root system” and therefore don’t usually reflect Who We Were Meant To Be. Instead those choices reflect the chaos of the storm going on around us. Allow the storm front to move through. Just notice the emotions, feel them at the moment. There is no need to take action, other than to protect yourself if necessary from the elements that might be dangerous to you. When the storm has passed, the calm settles in. Review what has happened.

Before making decisions to sprout into the new business, relationship, home or whatever new directions you are choosing, remember the Chinese bamboo, Moso, takes several years to build it’s root system before ever appearing above ground. However, it’s root system is so strong that it will grow to 60 to 75 feet tall in the five years following it’s appearance. The bamboo will grow to a strong and powerful eight inches in diameter.

Gib Cooper is a bamboo gardner. He offers this saying for us to ponder…. The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they leap!

When you approach a new endeavor, you would do well to consider the wisdom of the Moso gardner. Take the time to plant and nurture the seeds of your new endeavor, choose wisely the plant you wish to become and then watch as your power and strength grow in proportion to the root system you have developed. Give up immediate gratification for the long term pleasure, satisfaction, and strength of the moso forest!

A professional speaker since 1975, Patricia has created over fifty workshops, speeches, and keynote presentations highlighting the skills of Emotional Intelligence. A host for both radio and television interview shows for ten years with an extensive background in business and education, Patricia makes strong connections with participants from private, public and non-profit sector organizations, as well as associations. Emotional Intelligence is at the core of all of her work, helping people develop their self-awareness and social awareness skills to build effective, collaborative relationships personally and professionally. Her website gives more details and contact information.

Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love

Category: Men and Love 
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By Gonzalo Salinas

SunOn the Tiny Buddha site, I found an amazing article by Joanna Warwick, a writer and a therapist who writes about Love, Emotions and Relationships. The article talks about the brave action of opening your heart, even when life has taught you to close it. Great reading!

Letting go came with what seemed like an ocean of tears and unchartered anger, which I shouted, screamed, swore, prayed, talked, and physically used to punch my bed; but gradually the light started to creep in.

Click Here to read “Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love.” Enjoy!

 

‘Man Up’ and Beyond … Malik Washington

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Tarik Washington

Malik Washington

by Boysen Hodgson

When Malik Washington joined the “Man Up” program at Howard University as a freshmen, it was because he wanted to make sure he had what he needed to succeed. “Man Up” was a space where Malik, and many other young men like him, could get things off their chests that might distract them from being successful in their studies.

For many men, this makes a big difference. When Malik started at Howard it was expected that nearly half of the young African American men who were starting school wouldn’t finish. And often it’s not academics that get in the way, it’s added stresses outside of school that push many young men to drop out.

Man Up” is a place to deal with those extra stresses and get support from mentors and peers. As New Warriors, the format for the circles would seem very familiar, with some similarities to our I-Groups.

Now, only a few years later, Washington is using some of what he learned in those men’s circles, and his subsequent MKP experience, to break the cycles of violence and poverty in communities all over the northeast as the CEO of the William Kellibrew Foundation.

From the Kellibrew Foundation’s website:
The William Kellibrew Foundation is an advocate, bridge and community driven partner dedicated to breaking the cycles of violence and poverty. The WKF harnesses and provides resources to both victims and similarly focused organizations through prevention, intervention, education and outreach. By sharing the stories of survivors we give voice to victims, raise community awareness and empower people working to rebuild their lives, families and communities. 

Washington now manages and creates groups for both men and women, with a focus on providing trauma informed care and needed services to a large network in the DC area. He is also traveling to other cities in the northeast to setup similar programs. William Kellibrew’s story is intense, heart-breaking and hopeful.

Congratulations to this Peaceful Warrior – on living a powerful mission of service in the world.

The Howard University ‘Man Up’ program has had deep involvement from a number of New Warriors in the Greater Washington DC community including Lincoln Brown Jr. and former DC Center Director Darryl Moment.

Boysen Hodgson

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications and Marketing Director for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Boysen received his BA with Honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, after completing 2 years of Design coursework at Cornell University. He has been helping companies and individuals design the change they wish to see in the world for 15 years. He’s a dedicated husband.

Mission is not “mine” – releasing the power of mission

Category: Men and Mission 
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By Stephen Simmer

You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to you. Come, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run. –Augustine

 
Too late I came to love you, both so ancient and so new! Too late I came to love you – and you were with me all the time . . .
–Augustine
 
 
The spirit is so near that you can’t see it!
But reach for it. . .don’t be a jar
Full of water, whose rim is always dry.
Don’t be the rider who gallops all night
And never sees the horse that is beneath him.
–Rumi

We stand up in a circle and say, “My mission is. . .”  But to me there’s something wrong about calling it my mission, like it’s a possession that belongs to me.  My mission is not my possession, like my car or my I-phone.  It possesses me, like spirit possession.  My mission is greater than me.  I belong to it.  It grabs me by the neck.  The etymology of the word mission connects it to the word smite.   It is something that smacks me and knocks me down, refuses to be ignored, makes me change my life.

When I speak my mission for the first time, I may have a sense of deja vu, as if I am saying something I have known all along.  Like Augustine says, “Too late I came to love you, and you were with me all the time.”   It is as if mission has been whispering in my ear my entire life, but I hadn’t been listening.  It is as if I have had a companion from the beginning, but I was turned the other way.

When I form a mission statement with a vision and an action, in my opinion it’s like trying to cage the Wild Man in the Iron Hans story.   When I recite it, I put my mission on display, and pretend that I’ve captured it and put it in the zoo.  But that caged creature isn’t the real Mission.  It tricks its way out of my definition.  It needs to be on the move, alive and changing.

The Latin word missionem means “sending, releasing, setting at liberty.”  If there’s no movement or sense of freedom in it, it’s not really Mission.  It scoops us up on its back and carries us into the forest, like in the story.  When I ride on mission’s back, it’s deciding where we go, carrying me to places I’ve never been.  As Augustine says, “Be our fire and our sweetness.  Let us love.  Let us run.”

If I let Mission carry me, it takes me to a place where all things glisten with golden beauty.  My life makes sense, there’s value in what I do.  In the Iron Hans story, the wild man carries the boy to a pool that changes everything to gold, and the boy sticks his wounded finger in the pool.  Even my wounds have gold in them, become an essential part of my mission work.  Before, I hid my wounds out of shame, or out of fear that the pain would start again.  Now, my wounds glisten with gold.  No, I don’t wait for them to heal before I begin my mission work.  My wounds as they are become my bridge of compassion, my connection to the wounded world.  Then my wound is not must mine, it becomes the place where I can feel the pain of the world.

 

Stephen Simmer

Steve Simmer, for those of us privileged to know him, lives his life in the midst of the constant stream and theme of mission. Appropriately enough, one of his formal mission statements is that he “creates a world of freedom by encouraging men with my courage to do all that they can be and to be all that they can do.” By profession a psychotherapist, he works continuously to inspire men to actively find and engage in their own mission in this world. Dr. Simmer completed the New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2001, and has never been the same man since.
To learn more about Steve and his work you can visit his website

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