Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the Company of Men

Were my legs screaming "why are you doing this to us?" And my ego WAS going through the equivalent of a market correction. Though my thrice-a-week running regimen WAS halted by winter's early dusk and Has not Recovered yet, I thought I was still in reasonably good shape. As I stopped and started my way up the BCMC trail (the twin sister of the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver), I Realized That Longsword and the occasional jog on level ground Was Not adequate preparation for hours of vertical stair climbing. And yet, though my body and pride Were aching, I was HAVING the absolute time of my life.
I was taking share in an extremely unusual ritual in our Culture - a "Man Shower". One of my best friends, Whose family has-beens share of my life since kindergarten, WAS HAVING a "Man Shower". Conceived by His younger brother, the idea WAS for His male family and friends to get together and celebrate His upcoming Fatherhood. It was an extraordinary experience.
There is a small set of stereotypes of "manliness" that are drawn are far Too Often - the "Mook", the "Pony Tailed, sensitive guy", the "Rugged Individualist", the "Bad Boy" .... the list of two dimensional figures goes on. And in the trend of Identifying the world's problems with patriarchy and testosterone poisoning, the male baby is oft thrown out with the bathwater, or simply neglected. It was extraordinary to Spend my day at an intentioned men's gathering and-have Neither an identification with nor a rebellion against Any Given male image from anyone: each person WAS simply Themselves, and WAS fully engaged in Their Own ways with what it Means to be a Man.
The least in shape of the group, I Had to make frequent stops to catch my breath. Each stop at, one or two of the group Would hang back and chat with me - we Talked of travel, the work of We Were doing, of the challenges and adventures going on in our lives at the moment. Halfway up there Were A Few brief, heartfelt speeches about my friend's upcoming Fatherhood. With much encouragement from the group, I dragged myself over the final snow-covered twists in the path, Anticipating the opportunity to continue the discussions we'd beens HAVING with full breath as much as I was Anticipating the opportunity to rest my legs; for the last twenty minutes or so, I'd beens Unable to stop, Knowing That if I did I would not be ble to start up again.
As we Talked and Rested at the mountaintop bistro turned the weather - rain Gave way to snow and wind, and we basked in our fortunate timing. Eventually We took the Gondola down, and departed in groups for the family house for the evening's BBQ. On the drive I reconnected with with a friend - a member of my far flung community for the last 20 Have you years or so I tend to see at the Father-to-be's social events. My copy of Jung's "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious" in the back seat led to an amazing talk of dreams, Their interpretation, and transitions in life.
Later in the evening we Gathered, and the Fathers in the room Passed On Their wisdom and experience, and others offert encouragement and words of respect and love. I was deeply Moved at the Powerful emotions Expressed around the room, PARTICULARLY Those of my friend's younger brother and Father.
Though motherhood Maintains icts shroud of numinosity, Fatherhood is so Often Given short shrift. Of course it's a hallmark Celebrated in kind of way, aim beyond young handsome men lying bare-chested With Their infants, there arent That Many Opportunities presented for men to come together and talk about the hopes, challenges, sorrows and delights of Being a Father, nor Opportunities to explore what Being a Father really means clustering.
By the time I left in the evening, I was tired goal with a full heart and all Manner of inspiration. The day Was a much needed reminder for me of the importance of men coming together to be men ... well, whatever that happens to look like. Throughout my life I've beens Often an 'honourary member' of women's groups. I relates well to women, and-have minimal interest in sporting events or other; many of the male bonding rituals Culturally approved. Though my male friends and I Often get together to hang out, there's something different Exclusively When the male group Is not coincidence, purpose is a sacred hand of what's going on. I look forward to finding more Opportunities to dive Into That sort of sacred space.
    And I can not wait to play with and get to know the next generation of my friend's family, and look forward to the time when i Make That Fatherhood journey into myself.
Abulafia Gray

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