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

Category: Men and Mission 

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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Message from your Inner Warrior

by Gonzalo Salinas

 

Dear Warrior:

You don’t work on your mission to get things. You don’t work on your mission to get a desired outcome: Not fame or fortune, not a brand new car, nor the girl. You don’t condition your mission to an outcome.

What if you work in your mission to get things and when you finish, you don’t get the thing? Or even worse, you achieve the goal, you get the thing but you don’t get the fulfillment? …

You know better than that.

Deep in your heart, this is what you really know: You work on your mission because this is Who You Are. Period. You know that your mission will either saves someone’s life or will make this planet a better place to live.  So you wake up, you work on your mission, no matter the amount of time as long as you do something related to your mission today.

And then you realize that the little amount of work you put on your mission today, is enough reason to authorize yourself to be happy right now. Tomorrow will be another day.

Love,

Your Inner Warrior

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.

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Mensaje de tu Guerrero Interior

Category: Men and Mission 

por Gonzalo Salinas

Querido Guerrero:

Tú no trabajas en tu misión para obtener cosas. Tú no trabajas en tu misión para obtener ningún resultado. No por fama o fortuna,  ni por un carro nuevo ni para conseguir una mujer. Tú no condicionas tu misión a un resultado.

¿Qué pasaría si trabajas en tu misión y al final no obtienes el resultado que esperas? O peor aún, ¿Qué pasaría si luego de trabajar en tu misión, obtienes la cosa y ello no te llena como esperabas?… Tú eres mejor que eso.

En un lugar profundo en tu corazón, esto es lo que sabes: Tú trabajas en tu misión porque eso es quien TÚ eres. Así de simple. Tú sabes que tu misión salvará la vida de alguien o que hará que este planeta sea un mejor lugar donde vivir. Entonces te despiertas, trabajas en tu misión, sin importar el tiempo que le dediques tan pronto como hagas algo por tu misión el día de hoy.

Y luego te das cuenta, que ese pequeño monto de trabajo que pusiste hoy en tu misión, es razón suficiente para autorizarte a ser feliz ahora mismo. Mañana será otro día.

Con Amor,

Tu Guerrero Interior

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.

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The Legacy Letters, powerful lessons for living

A Good Man

A Good Man


EDITOR’S NOTE by Boysen Hodgson : Barry Friedman emailed me to tell me that I HAD TO get this book, The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz, and read it immediately. He felt this was an important book for New Warriors, a book that speaks to our values as conscious men, and to the importance of taking action now to make sure that the important things we have to say are said. 

I suggested that Barry get in touch with Carew, and reached out to make the connection … and as usual …  Barry jumped right in and OVER-PERFORMED … putting together a great interview with Carew including a special reading by his son of a particularly poignant section of the book.

It’s a powerful story, full of wisdom, wonder, gratitude, and blessings. Listen to the interview, read the excerpt below – and order yourself a copy of this incredible book. Carew is sure to become a big name. He’s already out on the road doing book signings across the country.

Interview by Barry Friedman

Click for the Interview.

Excerpts from the letter:  On My Boy Becoming A Man

for The Mankind Project

(from The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz)

My Son,

As your papa, I have so much to tell you, to show you, of what it means to become a man.  Trying to answer all your curious-boy questions about the day’s mysteries and wonders with the perfect papa-given mix of accuracy, simplicity, and clarity.  Watching you fall and stand and then fall again as all boys must do with such ferocity and perpetuity, to occasionally pick you up but not too often.  Leading you through the long fire that is baptism of my son becoming a man.  And somehow I must do all of this through the mortality of my words.

By your mom’s grace and nearness, your sister will learn her mother wisdom.  In one way or another, my Son, I must find a way to be next to you.  Flying across a massive canyon of memory and time, hoping with all the strength, clarity, and love I can forgather as your father, I hope these words will wisely guide you toward someday becoming your own man.

Somehow, my Son, in our breakneck lust for the future of now, we got it into our heads that, like pushing a button or dialing a number, becoming a man is easy.  Just devour a few dozen man-becomes-hero movies, pick-up a fast-looking car, make out with a girl or girls, pocket a few bucks, and do whatever you want whenever you want—easy.  As a consequence, we turn out the perfect someone who looks like a man, talks like a man, and even sounds like a man but somehow acts like a Jack Sprat Billy-boy stunted at the pinnacle of his manly maturation, somewhere between the hormonal apex of twelve to twenty-three, who has no want, inclination, or motivation to earn his stripes and become a full-fledged, grown-up, thinking, thoughtful, good man.  Now I’m not saying you have to be the Pope’s boy scout or John Wayne’s muleskinner, but if you’re not learning or wanting to someday become a man, then you’re forever practicing to remain a boy.

***********************************************************

So when do you become a man, my Son?

Do you become a man by running around buck-naked in the wilderness for a week, waiting for some god-vision of three crows riding bareback on a bull elk at sun’s rising?  Do you become a man by going to war to bludgeon, shoot, bayonet, or shish-kabob some dumb kid your own age on the other side who also thought going to war would make him a man?   Do you become a man by souping up the latest Chevy with a 327 under the hood and whipping some poor sod in a midnight street drag?

No, you become a man when you first decide to put away the things of childhood, the talk of childhood, and the thoughts of childhood.  You decide because you cannot be treated as both a man and a boy.  Because you are either one or the other, but you are not both.  And it doesn’t matter your age—you can be a child at fifteen or forty.  Only when you as a boy decide you’re done waiting for the man you want to be and start being the man you want to become, do you begin to become a man.

When do you become a man?

When you become your own man.

When other men trust you to do a man’s work.  Trust you with their name, their reputation, their thoughts.  Trust you to watch their backs and trust you with their lives.

To become a man is to carry out your word because you gave your word.  And your word is you as a man.

You become a man the moment you understand that responsibility is a real and vital commitment to yourself and others, and not some lazy-dog, all-agreeing grunt.

Becoming a man means doing the right thing even though it may be hard or difficult.  Boys do what is easiest.  A man does what is right, whether easy or not.

***********************************************************

And what type of man should you be, my Son?

A good man.  Above all else, strive to be a good man.

And you do not become a good man overnight.  Much like a big, solid Douglas fir you must learn to withstand all manner of wind, rain, lightening, sun, and even fire—year after year after year—and still stand tall and true.

A good man, in your papa’s book, is a great man.  One who constantly strives to be the best of men, to himself and to others.  Because the world can never have enough good men.

And what makes a good man, my Son.

A good man is being fair.  In both your words and your actions.

When you admit being wrong.  And then right that wrong.

A good man knows when he’s been humbled, and learns from his humility.

Being a good man means to speak with sincerity, and love with certainty.

A good man will try to act wisely by thinking first and then acting.

A good man tells the truth.

A good man lives for the joy in life and the happiness of being alive, not shackled to the wants of the future or the regrets of the past.

A good man defends those that cannot defend themselves.

And a good man knows the difficulty of being a man, knowing the fall from grace is always near at hand, and thus is always striving to make himself a better man.

And as I quickly grow older, my Son, I see that the becoming a man and the being a man are eventually and truly one in the same, and the tests and the testing never end.   I know in my father heart, and in all the other places I cannot go to at this moment, that I believe in you with all my love, even as time now disappears before me.  And I know someday you will become a man to make your papa proud—your own man.  Walking true to your own beliefs, carrying your name proudly, ever loyal to a valiant heart, and believing that being a good man in this life is a great endeavor.  And on that day, I will somehow be with you.  And somehow, I will have been your father.  I love you.

Papa

FINAL NOTE!

If you want to get a Hard-Cover version of this book … AND … a 20% Discount, use MANKIND1

 

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The Twin Brothers, The Horse Twins

Category: Poetry 

by Rebecca

 

The Twin Brothers, The Horse Twins

The Ashvino
The Horse Twins
The Twin Brothers
Tall, strong,
Long black hair flowing
They are the Ashvino
Call to your brothers,
And they will lead you on your way.

Nobody knows where the Ashvino Twins live.
They make visits to villages
As they roam free.
When they enter a town,
The children are the first to know.
They go running on their little feet
Pattering, laughing, spilling with delight.
The Ashvino Twins,
glowing softly bright like the afternoon sun,
Brown eyes bright,
Play with them, laugh with them.
They pick the children up to their shoulders, and hold them tight.
They speak true words to them,
Speaking to them,
never above them or below them,
As children always want to be spoken to.
Children everywhere call them,
Our Big Brothers.

They enter into homes
In the late afternoon
When the sun is high and golden,
When women are baking bread
And making supper.
The women always welcome them in
Because they know what the Ashvino are.
They love them,
In a way different from their husbands,
In a way different than their sons.
The Ashvino bring their children with them.
They bring a quiet, strong joy that lasts long.
After they leave,
The earthen walls speak long after they have gone,
A deep vibration,
Soothing, saying things that words could never speak.
In a house where the Ashvino have sat,
Disease will not lodge
And the fortune of long, lasting happiness will come.
The Twin Brothers bring a warm, contented, deep peace.
They bring fortune that money or riches
Could never bring.
The women know this.
They know about the Ashvino
They know about the Twins.
And that is why
The women are always happy to let the Twin Brothers in.

No one knows where the home of the Ashvino is.
After they pass through a village,
They walk past the outskirts
Out into the rolling plains,
And the Two Brothers
Change into Horses.
They run free in the grasses,
In the wide expanse of the world.
In thunderstorms,
They revel in the pounding rain
Their hooves are like the thunder
And their speed is the lightning.
Their black manes are the wind.

In their bodies runs the strength of a horse.
They know what it feels like to be prey
but they have the mind of a good human king.
They’ve felt the spikes of fear in their own bodies,
And they are sensitive as horses—
they are gentle because of it.
And they know sensitive assertiveness
is better than timid kindness—
they know without it,
the heard falls into fear and strife.
They know what it is to be a predator,
And that as men they are only animal on earth
That has a choice about it.
They are a horse and a man in one,
the best of both.
They are the Ashvino.

Women always love them.
But what men think of them
Depends on the Man.
A jealous man says,
“Get out of my house! Stop messing with my woman!”
An insecure man sees the Twins’ easy, warm confidence,
and feels empty.
A men who thinks himself strong,
but only makes an image of strength on the outside, judges and says,
“They are not really strong. They are too gentle, too kind.”

But a man who strives to be free, wild, kind, and strong,
His heart yearns after them
From deep in his soul.
He wants to be like them.
He wants to run free like them.
He wants to be strong like them.
He wants to be kind like them.

Call to the Ashvino
And the Horse Twins will come running
Quicker than the lightning
Rumbling deep and long like thunder in the earth
With the easy warmth of the afternoon sun,
With the heart of a Horse
And the mind of a Man,
They will come
As your Brothers
And lead you
On the way you yearn to go.

 

Rebecca is a woman who heartily supports the Men’s Movement. On her words: ” We need it now more than ever. I am deep into Jungian studies, and I work daily towards living a responsible, full, conscious life. I have written this piece in the place where men’s and women’s journeys intersect. We often do the same thing in our inner life, while looking at it from slightly different angles. The Ashvino Horse twins are an ancient Indo-European  tradition that I want to bring alive into our world again.”
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All/You/I, a poem

Category: Poetry 

by Dave Klaus

All/You/I

don’t give me a pitch
don’t tell me a story
don’t serve me pie in the sky

tell me the truth

the dark parts
the hard parts
the parts that don’t want to be told, the parts that hide from the sun
(toothy little things, hungry for blood, hungry for love, hungry, hungry…)

tell me the sad parts, the parts where you’re afraid, really afraid. Trapped in Amber.

tell me the parts when you gave up, just gave up,
because you were tired, and it was too much

the parts you wish were different

I want to see the shadows.

I want to see them, bold and stretchy, looming and translucent.

trans/lucent

because behind those shadows is a shining light
and though I can’t look straight at it (like the sun, you know)

I know you

and I feel the Light shining through

I feel it there and it warms me and I am safe,
and it adds to my light:

with your light my shadows

fade,

a bit,

flickering,

pensive.

I want to see the shadows because inside them I see the rest of you,

inside them I see the All of you.

inside them

I/All/you.

I have no exit strategy, no plan for the door, no escape route in mind

I am here. With You.

I have no reason to doubt,
no reasonable doubt
(well a few, maybe; a few, more than that; ok yeah, I got doubts)

but there’s NO doubt I/you can hold what I/you got,

because I/you am large and I/you contain multitudes

I/You

I have a willingness to suspend disbelief, a willingness to be-lieve

I have a faith that treads water over 50,000 Fathoms,

head above it, mostly,

but not always, sometimes under

we will tread together and I’ll brush the wet hair from your eyes.

And when its time I’ll mop your brow,
and I will sit with you,

just sit,

and hold your hand,

I/you.

only so many breaths.

only so many.

so don’t give me a pitch.
and don’t tell me a story.
and don’t serve me pie in the sky.

I want the All of You.

I/All/you

All

163511_10151535429977350_1023836638_n

Dave Klaus completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in June 2010 in the NorCal Center, and things have gotten better and better for him ever since. He is a senior supervisor in the Alameda County Public Defenders Office, where over the last 17 years he has represented thousands of clients in cases ranging from petty theft to special circumstance murder. He is married and has two awesome kids. In his spare time, he leads a large Burning Man camp (www.bEEcHARGE.com) and is starting an art collective. This is his first completed poem.

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Healing from wounds

Category: Poetry 

by Michael Kullik

Healing from wounds

Wounded  Child

Crying  in  Corner

Lost  between  the  years

Crying  out  Silently
No  One  Comes
No  One  Hears

A  Prison  of  Silence
Surrounds  Me,
Into  an  Early  Grave.

How  do  I  start
to  Breath  Again?
Am  I  Someone’s  Slave?

A  Wounded  Child
grows,  As  Does
A  Wounded  Man.

The  Wound  Becomes  My  Sword.
Like  Tempered  Steel,
I  am  strong  again,  Oh  my  Lord.

A  Wounded  Man  Sat
Crying  Lost
Within  his  Years.

Silence  at  last  was  Broken
Shattered  Wounds  Turned
Into  a  River  of  Tears.

A  Sword  of  Anger  Broke  me  out,
As   I   Yelled
Screamed  and  Roared.

The  Prison  wasn’t
Mine  at  Last
It  Was  Yours.

 

Michael Kullik  is a teacher, professor, singer, and published poet.  He was first published in 2000 in a book edited by Jill Kuhn called “In Cabin Six”.  He has run writing and drumming workshops and retreats for male survivors of abuse.He has also volunteered his time running a group for survivors from 1999 to 2004.
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Dallas Chief Eagle – Lakota on the ManKind Project

“MKP has proven to be our most effective allies in eradicating genocide since the Cheyenne were to the Lakota 150 years ago.” ~ Dallas Chief Eagle

Dallas Chief Eagle

Dallas Chief Eagle

Brothers,

Dallas Chief Eagle blessed us at the Gathering last week.

He declared that after 100 years of no allies, the Lakota now have allies.

We, the men of the (Central Plains) ManKind Project, are those allies.

When he shared that with the circle, I felt as if the roof split open, a beam of light filled the room, and hearts were opened wide. A shift in the Universe occurred.

After a century of no allies, now there are allies.

I encourage each of us to look into Dallas’ deep insight. What does this word, ALLIES, mean for you?
Who are your allies? What alliances do you/we need to make?

How might our worlds shift if we saw the world in this way – a world of potential allies and alliances?

I know I will never be the same.

Gratitude to Dallas for speaking his truth.

Gratitude to Steve Ramm for calling this Gathering of the Central Plains so we can connect in common cause through the power of the circle.

Checking in humbled and deeply honored to be a part of this magnificent community of men,

Dan Pecaut

Member of the Mankind Project

EDITOR’S NOTE:

There is a growing community of New Warrior Lakota men on the Pine Ridge Reservation who are now holding the intention of bringing the NWTA to Pine Ridge.  MKP Colorado,  MKP Central Plains, and the ManKind Project USA, through the MKP USA Diversity Scholarship Fund, have provided financial and logistical support to help Lakota men attend the NWTA.

For more information about the role of men’s community on the reservation, see this story: Native Sun News: The Men’s Oyate – Going from pain to healing

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Mission: Just say Yes.

by Stephen Simmer

An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn’t a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative.” A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

I spend a good portion of my life fortified behind a wall of Nos, sticking out from my soul like quills from a porcupine.  Even if I don’t speak them, people can sense the Nos bristling from me when I walk into a room.  No, I’m too busy.  No, I don’t see a clear benefit to that.  No, that doesn’t line up exactly enough with my values.  No, I don’t want to get too depleted.  No, I’m not the right man for that.  No, he would probably use the dollar to buy crack.  No, I would probably fuck that up if I tried it.  No, if I help she’ll only want more.

As I walk down the street, running the gauntlet of all those who represent the needs of the world, I can sense that these quills have two points.  One wards others off, defends me from the risk of Yes.  The other point presses into my soul, tightening me, scarring me, shriveling me.  I may use my kids and family as my excuse—I’ll save my life energy for those in my immediate circle, those I love.  But my painful truth is, my quills of No bristle at home, too.  No, I can’t make the game.  No, you can’t stay up late.  No, I can’t love you the way you want to be loved.  No, I can’t be fully present for you.

Years ago, Nancy Reagan started her famous Just Say No campaign to drugs.  In this, I’ve overachieved—I’ve learned to Just Say No by default to nearly everything:  insurance salesmen, telemarketers, yes.  But also needy street people, my dogs, unfamiliar options, my kids, friends, new experiences, even my partner Rebecca.  I walk through life a shriveled Scrooge clutching my life-energy parsimoniously, doling it out carefully by the penny, and then regretting that I gave any away at all.

The result is that I live life moving backwards, my path determined more by what I refuse or avoid than what I affirm.  The job I stay in is more determined by the possibilities I have refuted and rejected than what I have passionately chosen.  The assembly of relationships I end up with is the consequence more of chance than choice, as if we have each backed into this corner together by accident.    I amputate possibilities so routinely that I end up where I am, in a partial life that I haven’t chosen with intention.

I’m not talking here about the conscious, passionate, powerful No that I may use like a sword.  This passionate No can be an indispensable part of a powerful Yes—more about that later.  Here I’m talking about the No-program that boots up almost automatically when I open my eyes in the morning and runs in the background of my life all day.  I’m talking about the No that is the vestige of my fear, shame, and inadequacy, that keeps me closed to anything new, that stops me from leaving home, that pinches off possibility, that stops me from striding towards risk, that isolates me from the world.  I’m talking about the No that—in the name of safety—is the silent killer that stops me from living and loving passionately.

A yes-program is not the answer.  In my opinion, this can be as toxic as the reflex no.  Yes, I’ll do the job.  Yes, I’ll fund-raise for the team, I’ll help you move the piano, I’ll co-chair the committee, I’ll re-sod the lawn, I’ll help you move the fieldstones.  I become a yes-man, where the Yes is perfunctory, and I never truly decide where to put my energies.  Then I get spread so thin that I don’t follow through, don’t show up completely, or leave the job unfinished.  Or I take on so much that I become the lead sled dog, carrying the full weight, including the weight of the other dogs.  I don’t trust that others might help, might sometimes carry me.  Or I place a bet on every horse in the race, so I never really lose, but never really win.  As a result, there is no form to my character—no one really knows who I am or what I want.  And I may not know who I am or what I want, either.

My mission is a powerful sword that has always been buried in the stone of who I am. 

In the Arthur story, the sword comes out easily, with the flick of the wrist.  But for some, (and I count myself among these) extracting the sword of mission is a slow process, needing a lot of patient work and ingenuity.  Some of the alchemists spent their whole lives trying to extract precious metals from the dark matter, using thousands of different processes.  But—fast or slow—if I can pull this sword out, my life suddenly has a point and I’m living on the cutting edge.

Forming a mission and living it means saying Yes—consciously, passionately, with commitment.  I know my purpose, and can stride towards it. 

Thich Nhat Hanh says that when an enlightened person looks at flowers, he will also see through the flowers to the garbage that the flowers will become.  And when he looks at garbage, he looks through the garbage to the flowers that might eventually grow from this waste.  The sword has 2 edges.  In living mission, I say a joyous and passionate Yes.  But at the same time I say No in a way that defines me.  The sword is the point of convergence of this Yes and No, and in the end, mysteriously, these two are the same, so that when I shout Yes, the echo comes back No, and when I shout No, the echo is an unmistakable Yes.

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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Men: From the Inside

Guest post: by Garry Gilfoy

I was recently asked to deliver professional development to some therapists on the topic of ‘men’s issues.’ I left my son’s football game to do so and found a gathering of about 60 people. The ten or so men attending were sitting on the periphery of the room.

I warmed up by reading a poem called Rain from Nowhere by Murray Hartin. It tells of a man with a young family. We catch him on the day he intends to end his life. After years of drought, he can’t see any way to hold on to the family farm. That same day he receives a letter from his father telling him of the tough times he’d had on the farm and how important it was to hang in there for his wife and children. Everything will be alright, assures his dad. It’s a heartbreaking poem. I can’t read it without tears rolling down my face. The whole room cried with me. When I composed myself again, I asked what it was about the poem that moved them. It was, predictably, the father-son relationship.

I then asked everyone to briefly consider some words they would use to describe God. Then to consider the same question about their fathers.

Before I could go on, one bright spark spoke up to say the descriptors of God and their father were the same. Others echoed their agreement.  A few chirpy women close to the front said some lovely words like “unconditional love,” “acceptance,” and “supportive.” I thanked these women, raised my eyes to the horizon and said “men?”  Out it poured – “distant, angry, non-existent, judgmental.”  The contrast was stark.

I’d been asked to speak to this group partly because I train therapists myself, but also because I co-host regular men’s weekends. They are powerful events – no booze or drugs, no experts speaking down to people, no theorizing, no therapy and no talking over people. We speak openly and honestly of our own life experiences. We welcome silences. Tears and laughter are profuse. Within hours, hugs are commonplace. By the end of the weekend we do an affirmation ceremony, each of us saying just what it is we value about the others. That’s the hardest thing of all – being acknowledged for what we bring to others.

When these events began, we thought it was our duty to create themes to guide the weekends. We needn’t have bothered. Regardless of what we thought might be helpful – relationships, our working lives, changing roles – again and again the topic returned to father-son relationships.

And there was something I noticed over the years of revisiting this inexhaustible well of grief. Time after time I was deeply affected by the emotions of these brave men who would talk and cry in front of people they often hadn’t met before. My own father, long dead, was emotionally detached at best. Yet he was not violent, not irresponsible, not an alcoholic nor emotionally abusive. The many conversations about fathers were not true for me, yet they found a very deep resonance within me. I began to recognize this as how we experience archetypes. These stories go deeper than our personal relationship to our father in this lifetime.

There is a very profound father-son archetype that lies at the root of our relationship to our own God, or higher self, or whatever you deem to be the part of us that needs desperately to shine but so often cannot. Rather than the popular Jungian struggle for dominance between father and son, I’d suggest the higher archetype can be found in the Biblical phrase, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” It’s about recognition and acceptance.  And the damage or neglect that came from our own fathers is reflected strongly in this relationship with our higher self. We know deeply that this is not how it’s supposed to be. At some level we experience that great being of light at the core of our own self, and long for its expression in our lives.  When we struggle, we do so against the backdrop of unconditional love that we sense awaits us, yet is never quite attainable.

By the end of my talk I felt I had to affirm the many female therapists in the room. They struggle with their male clients, and many with the men in their private lives. I could only applaud them for caring so much and continuing to try. They know men are worth it, whether they see much evidence of this or not. Women are very often the first port of call for men who finally muster the courage to ask for help. Yet, in the end, I think that men need to make meaningful contact with other men. It’s only here that we can redeem our Gods and our demons.

Garry Gilfoy was raised in Canada and lives in South Australia. His formal education includes Theology, Education, Social Science (Counseling) and is currently a PhD candidate. Garry trains counselor’s, is author of The BIG Picture: Insights from the Spiritual World, contributes to The Huffington Post and co-hosts regular men’s weekends. His website is http://www.garrygilfoy.com.
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New Warrior Training Adventure: My first staffing

Category: Men and Initiation 

by Gonzalo Salinas

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to participate as staff for the first time on the New Warrior Training Adventure.

I had completed my own weekend in Central Florida in April 2013. I remember the feelings in my heart right before it started. Fear, excitement, anger, happiness, more … every moment was a discovery and I remember going through every emotion I’ve ever felt in my life.

I had similar feelings on my first staffing.  The staff arrives one day before the participants, to prepare the site, get staffing directions, and for a first-time staffer like me, to see the “behind the scenes” of the Weekend. I witnessed the huge amount of work that close to 40 other men were putting in as volunteers to help the men who would be arriving on Friday (often called initiates) have a flawless experience: Men of Service, Elders, the Certified Leader Team, the Lodge team, in general every member from the staff adding his gifts to accomplish the main goal: to offer a group of men what could be one of the most powerful weekends of their lives.

This time I was the one on the other side of the wall. On my weekend I was discovering and living my experience, but this time I was more concerned for every man in front of me going trough their process. Something that I couldn’t avoid, almost immediately I began to care profoundly for every man going through the weekend.

lover magician warrior king Talking with one of the elders about why I was feeling my staffing experience in a more heartfelt way than my own initiation, he said to me with a big smile:

“Now you have the privilege of being in service to your brothers.”

One by one, I saw men breaking through. Understanding the importance of accountability in their lives, seeing how every action, no matter how small, has an impact on our families, on our society, and on the world. Seeing how they had set themselves up, and seeing the way through to a new way of being as a man.

At the end of the weekend, driving back to South Florida, with fresh memories of the men going through their process, a thought hit me, and I fully realized what happened on the weekend:

“The cycle has been fully completed,” I thought, “some other men voluntarily did the same thing for me on my weekend,  and now I’m doing the same, so other men can realize they are complete, whole men, great men, strong and loving men that can exercise power and compassion, love and accountability in every act. Now they know what I only learned less than a year ago.”

The words of the writer Sam Keen were resonating in my heart:

“A man must go on a quest
to discover the sacred fire 
in the sanctuary of his own belly,
to ignite the flame in his heart
to fuel the blaze in the hearth
to rekindle his ardor for the earth”
 

After arriving in Fort Lauderdale, I went to my girlfriend’s house,

“How was your weekend?” she said, excited to see me, giving me the most tender hug.

I hugged her dearly (a long and a very strong hug), and the words came from my heart:

“My love, the cycle has been fully completed.”

She smiled and continued hugging me. Now I can return to the “real world” satisfied that I’ve witnessed many miracles on the weekend.

 

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is the MKP Journal assistant Editor 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. 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, and is committed to his development with the organization and the dissemination of the  message of the Mankind Project.

 

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Man Up – Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito and the measure of a “Warrior”

ruffianAre you strong?

How do you measure your strength?

What does the idea of Warrior Culture mean to you?

What about within the context of American Football? In my time, I have stood with men I consider Warriors. Men I have met through the Mankind Project and outside of it. Men I consider strong for their trust in me and the people around them, and their ability to stand in vulnerability and be a mirror for my own choices. I love this article for how it speaks to the complexity of what it means to be a man, and a warrior, in today’s society.

I found “Man Up – Declaring a war on warrior culture in the wake of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal” via Patton Oswalt’s sharing of this article by Brian Phillips with his fans on Facebook. Share what you think in the comments.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9939308/richie-incognito-jonathan-martin-miami-dolphins-bullying-scandal

Alex Bender was initiated in Santa Barbara, CA in September 2007. He currently lives outside St. Paul, MN with his wife and their menagerie of cats and greyhounds. He sits on the local MKP Board as Vice President and works for growth in personal mission and community leadership.

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Turning Weapons into Instruments

Category: Multicultural, Opinion 

Editors note: by Gonzalo Salinas

“I believe that the purpose of Art is to come up with ways to transform the most negative instincts, into creative instincts.” ~ Pedro Reyes, a Mexican artist who came up with the idea of transforming guns into musical instruments in a powerful project called “Disarm”.

In a previous installation, “Shovels for Guns,” the people in Culiacan, a violent city in Mexico, donated weapons and after melting them they created more than 1500 shovels used to reforest the city.

The project you’ll see on the video is breathtaking. Faith in Humanity: Restored.

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.

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Creating Candor: blog post by Alain Hunkins

Editor’s Note: by Gonzalo Salinas
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word candor like this:

candor

Syllabification: (can·dor) 
Pronunciation: /ˈkandər, -ˌdôr/
noun : The quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness:

a man of refreshing candor

I just found another way to explain that word: In this family story, simple and tender, Alain Hunkins brings a new meaning to that word and how to apply it on our daily lives. I hope it brings a smile.

If I speak up candidly, it’ll be a career limiting move.  

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this phrase in organizations.

On the surface, it seems ridiculous.  How could honesty sabotage your career?

But this belief doesn’t come out of the blue.  It comes from experience.

If you spoke up in the past and got dinged for it, you won’t do it again.

So you don’t speak up.

Don’t rock the boat.  

How often have you heard that phrase at work?  As if the “waters” to navigate today’s hyper-changing economy were calm.

Psychologist, Paul Ekman, author of Why Kids Lie reports that the #1 reason that children (of every age) lie is to avoid punishment.

Adult employees aren’t much different.  If you’re afraid of punishment on the job, you’re more likely to lie, or at the very least, withhold the truth.

And when you withhold information in a knowledge worker industry, you sabotage success.  How?  By supporting a low trust, status quo seeking culture.

So what can you do as a leader to create a culture that supports open, honest dialogue?

Click on the following link to read the rest:

Creating Candor; Pioneer Leadership Blog 

 

Alain Hunkins leads personal and professional development trainings for individuals, teams and organizations. Over the last two decades, Alain has facilitated for over a thousand groups, ranging from at-risk youth to Fortune 500 executives. He moves between the educational, artistic, not-for-profit, government and corporate worlds. Alain sharpened his facilitation skills as an Educational Consultant in New York City, developing programs on many subjects, including Conflict Resolution, Networking, Customer Service, Communication, and Leadership.

Alain earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Professional Theater Training Program. He is a certified Leadership Challenge & MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, whose mission is to help men lead missions of service in their families, communities, and workplaces. Alain completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1995.

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I’m a weak man.

by Brooks H.

I’m a weak man.

I’m not strong enough to live up to this _warrior_ shit
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, 160 years a life.

lord knows I try.

Just can’t do it all the time.

Sometimes I just want to run away and hide.

Curl up into a little ball and tell the world to fuck off.

Scream ‘NO’ into the face of any asshole that wants me to do ONE MORE FUCKING THING!

help in ONE MORE FUCKING WAY. No way, FUCK OFF!

and I feel bad about it.

feel guilty that I’m not strong enough.

feel guilty at the mistakes I make being irresponsible, self-indulgent, un-conscious, un-truthful, withholding,

un-feeling.

and then, when it gets too big,

I realize that I _am_ feeling …

feeling sad.

and as I let myself feel that, I begin to think about my I-Group,
and what they would say if I brought this into a circle.

I imagine the number of raised hands of men I know that have fallen in these same ways

I can feel the smile starting on my face as I begin to feel again, what it means to be human, and fallible,

and supported.

and know that this is all it takes to keep going on,

to keep watching my behavior, and changing some habits,

to keep getting better.

and I take a breath.

and another,

and the smile begins to warm the cold places and I am grateful.

and into that gratitude comes the feeling of being blessed by this community.

Some warriors do get bloody. Their brothers help them up.

Thank you men for being in my life,

It’s time to get on with my day.

peace and blessings,

Brooks

Brooks H. completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in June of 1999, at Clara Barton Camp in Central Massachusetts. He is a member of Men On The Loose I-Group, a ManKind Project Men’s Group meeting outside Boston on a weekly basis. He lives in Arlington, MA.
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Wisdom Bought and Sold – 25¢

by Craig ‘Snake’ Bloomstrand

A Day at the Park

A Day at the Park

I’ve been writing about Wisdom recently and decided to do some field research.

I made two cardboard signs -

Wisdom
Bought and Sold
25¢

My friend Alan and I drove to the lake intending to buy or sell wisdom for a quarter a dose. We headed for a bench next to the walking path, strategically placed our signs for best visibility and got right to work.

Two young women stopped before we’d even settled. One held a 14 month old baby and the other obviously a soon to be mom.

“You’re selling wisdom?” One asked. “What a great idea.”

“Well actually we’re buying and selling wisdom.” I responded.

“I’ll take some,” the expectant mother said, “How does it work?”
She rummaged through her purse looking for a quarter.

“First we have to agree on a definition,” I explained, “Then we can decide what type of wisdom you’d like to purchase.

“Ok,” she agreed, what is the definition?

I’ve been studying various published definitions and concocted my own hybrid from what I’ve read.

Wisdom is the ability to learn from life experience and use it to shape the future for the good of all.

I shared my definition along with my unexpected discovery that the difference between knowledge and wisdom seems to be embedded in the last few words.
“For the good of all.”

The two women accepted my definition commenting they never thought about the difference and agreed for the good of all did indeed fit. “Why are you doing this?” they asked.

“We believe the world could use a little more wisdom. We decided offering a clear definition and assigning a dollar (Quarter) value, we’d encourage people to value wisdom and use it consciously in their daily lives.” I explained.

“Why here at the lake?” the woman holding the baby asked, “Shouldn’t you be in Washington selling wisdom?” I laughed replying, “this is our first day out. We thought it would be wise to start at the grassroots before stepping onto the national stage. We figured only very wise people would be walking around the lake on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.

The expectant mother suddenly piped up, “I have some wisdom.”

“Great,” I encouraged, “Lets have it.”

“Never be too quick to judge other people,” she offered adding, “I’m quick to judge people based on what they wear or how they look. My husband is much better at withholding his judgments until he gets to know people better. He’s a more reliable judge of people than I am.”

“Never be too quick to judge other people,” she repeated.

“It fits the definition,” I acknowledged, “Something you learned that could shape the future and certainly for the good of all.”

She seemed very pleased with herself and refused the quarter I offered saying, “No, I’d rather trade, now you give me some wisdom.”

“What flavor of wisdom?” I asked. She paused for a moment considering my question. I noticed her hand slowly caressing her pregnant belly.

“How about children? She asked, do you have any wisdom about raising children?

I raised two children who are now about the same age as these young women. When it comes to childrearing I’m no master but I am experienced and I have learned a lot through the years. I offered up the first thing that came into my mind.

“You can never love a child too much. Spend as much time as you can simply loving your child, you and your child will be forever grateful.”

We agreed we’d made a good trade of wisdom, said our goodbyes and the young mothers continued on their walk. I watched as they walked away, two women filled with the special beauty motherhood bestows.

We did encounter the skeptics, cynics, and the joggers determined to complete one more mile and far too driven to stop and take a moment. I’m grateful for those who did stop. Although no money changed hands today we did go home with our pockets full of wisdom. I imagine we sparked lively dinner conversations last night. I hope so. People have collected a lot of wisdom yet are often shy or hesitant about expressing it. We will continue to hit the streets with our signs. Look for us and stay tuned.

- Snake

EDITOR’S NOTE: Follow the ‘Wisdom – 25¢‘ Adventure on their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wisdom-25/207834646061043

Snake

Craig “Snake” Bloomstrand is a Certified Leader in the ManKind Project, and a self-described ‘Social Adventurer.’ He is a founding member of the Minnesota MKP Community.

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A Long Lost Letter From Your Innate Creative Self

Category: Men and Mission, Opinion 

By Gonzalo Salinas

iStock_000001635209Small

Time to wake up?

On www.highexistence.com, I found this article about creativity written by Stephanie Kaitlyn Torres, a.k.a. Satori, a great blogger, traveler, and photographer. I think it’s amazing.

How many times have I put aside my creative self just to fit into the social conventions? How long has my creative self been sleeping? On this “Letter from your Creative Self,” I hope you find what I found, a very interesting voice, speaking some truth.   Click on the link below to read the article:

 A Long Lost Letter From Your Innate Creative Self  

Enjoy, and don’t forget to comment.

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is the MKP Journal assistant Editor 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. 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, and is committed to his development with the organization and the dissemination of the  message of the Mankind Project.

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Waiting for the Blessing of My Father

By Gonzalo Salinas

In October it will be ten years since I’ve seen my father.

I remember clearly the last time I saw him. We were at the National Airport in Lima.

Let me back-track. The flight to Miami was at 8 pm. For international flights, you are supposed to check in three hours in advance or risk missing the flight.

I was at home, waiting for my father to say goodbye at 6 pm. Still a fifteen minute drive away from the airport.  I was late and pissed off. It was the same story. Waiting for my father. Putting all my expectations as a kid on that man. The architect. The eloquent speaker. The storyteller. Great talk but limited results. And yet I still never lost hope of seeing him awaken.

Twenty three years of my life waiting. Waiting for him to stand up and take action; for my brothers Victor and Fernando, for my Sister Mariola and my mother Soledad. And there I was; about to leave Peru, and I was still waiting.

Peter Putnam, a writer and ManKind Project supporter,  in his extraordinary  book: “The Song of Father-Son: Men in Search of The Blessing,” writes that a man craves the blessing of the Father more than anything else in the world.

“We crave the blessing of our father. Our father whoever he is. Wherever he’s been, hugging us close and saying these simple magical words:  Son, I’m proud of you . You have all you need to be a strong, loving man.”

Later, Putnam emphasizes that his entire book, and his entire life, are about that hug and those words.

And there it is. My whole life I was always craving the blessing of my father. And to give the blessing, he needed to show up.

In October 2003 I didn’t know that what I wanted was my father’s blessing. I was feeling the same familiar feelings of disappointment, anger, and frustration that I felt many times towards him. My life in Peru was about to come to an end. I was about to start a new life in a new country where  I couldn’t speak a word of the language.  I was longing for something from him … waiting for him to come and save me.

He arrived at 6:30 pm. I was furious. I wanted to scream at him and blame him for whatever unpleasant things were happening in my life.

He came pretending like nothing was wrong … and I screamed,

“Dad, I had to be at  the airport at 5!!!”

He reacted like he usually did; serene, almost as if he wasn’t involved.

He said, “I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard that I’m sorry so many times.

We went to the airport. As soon as we arrived, my brother, who was waiting there, told me that the flight was delayed two hours …

Four other friends were at the airport to say goodbye. A friend of mine brought me chocolates made by his mom, another friend asked me if I had some soles (the Peruvian currency) “You won’t need it in the U.S.” he said. Despite my anger, I gave him like thirty bucks in Peruvian soles.

Everyone was pretending that this was another get together, the usual frivolous conversation;  girls, soccer, cars.

I was begging deep inside for my father to call me aside … to say something meaningful.

Boarding begins. I start saying goodbye to my friends and family. At the time I thought I was leaving for only two or three years. It’s now ten years without seeing my father. I saved the last goodbye for Him, (Him with capital H). It was very simple goodbye. A brief hug and a kiss on my forehead.

“Behave,” he said.

Throughout the years I have carried a lot of resentment towards my father. I blamed him for many things. I’ve always thought about how he could do better on this or that area. It’s been ten years. Now, after my New Warrior Training Adventure, and ongoing work in my men’s I-group, I notice that I didn’t have to look at my father, but at myself.

Looking back, I see that he did the best he could with what he had, from where he was. If he didn’t do better, it was simply because he didn’t know any better. Maybe he was also craving the blessing of his father. Men’s work, for me, has included learning to forgive. Forgiveness for my father. Forgiveness for myself. I didn’t know what I needed, and I didn’t know how to ask for it. He didn’t know how to give what I could never ask for, the blessing of a Father.

Only after I forgave, I accomplished something that I thought it was impossible:  I have learned to love my father. Just saying it give me a sense of freedom: I love my Father. Yes, I love Him and I can’t wait to see him again. To look into his eyes and hug him. Not only as the man who gave me life, but as my brother warrior that he is, doing the best he can with what he is given.

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is the MKP Journal assistant Editor 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. 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, and is committed to his development with the organization and the dissemination of the  message of the Mankind Project.

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True Voice Process – A Conversation with Alan Little

by Boysen Hodgson

Alan Little

Alan Little

As has been said … necessity is often the mother of invention. Alan Little thought he had it all worked out, and then it all started crumbling. In some new ways, it still is. But the slippery slope from ‘I’ve got this all figured out,’ to ‘What the heck is going on!?’ happens in different ways for different folks. In Alan’s case, it helped him arrive at a moment of clarity that gave rise to the ‘True Voice System.’

I spoke with Alan in August about his system, and took a few hours to walk through the True Voice Process work-book. I’m glad I did. In a few hours I added new language and some new tools to my personal growth tool-box, and came away with more clarity about what I value deeply and what I won’t tolerate in my life.

Alan completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2007.

Check out the interview, and if you would like to learn more about the “True Voice System,” check out Alan’s web site.
2013-09-27_TrueVoice Interview

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.

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Rolling in the Tides of Ash

Category: Poetry 
by Ryan Keaton

Rolling in the Tides of Ash

A speck of gold
In a sea of shadows
Rolling in the tides of ash
It’s getting late and I am tired

I step outside myself
Only for a moment
And in that moment
I am free

Free to laugh
To smile
Free to cry
Or breathe deeply
Free to be myself
And it doesn’t hurt

And suddenly a whisper
A doubtful wind
Sweeps across my eyes
I fall to the ground
Knees to the Earth

There is a light that glows
Buried deep beneath
Memories of salted tears
And broken glass
There is a light that glows
It is small but I can see it

It is familiar
It has a face; a name
It has wants and needs
Hopes and dreams
A voice that wants to speak
And a longing to be free

And suddenly
I am afraid -
I am afraid of me

A speck of gold
In a sea of shadows
Rolling in the tides of ash

Original writing by Ryan Keaton, a ManKind Project member in the greater Washington DC Community.

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