by Stephen Cocconi © 2008-11
What is it to be a “real” man?
What I have discovered is that the definition of “real” means,whole, to my reckoning. The second aspect of that determination is that the person acts a “mature adult.” That entails three simple things: courage to face life, accountability for your actions; and the willingness to say “I don’t know.” For many of us, men and women alike, the last statement is truly frightening when it comes to who we are inside.
Discovering vulnerability, in a survival sense, is truly frightening. Common strategies are to ignore, distract, deny or protect them. The price, we stay in our Shadow and at partially disconnected from each other. It is the separation that can breed loneliness, fear and the isolation. While at one time or another I have known all of these to some degree, I was tired of hanging out in their company.
Lack of Initiation
One of the things lacking in modern society are rights of passage for our children. This is true for both genders and every age group. Some argue that modern expressions are events like: graduations, confirmations or Barmitzfa or other religious ceremonies which hail something we have done. But few if any places in the western world to we have one for passing into adulthood as a Man or Woman.
All too often, Mothers and Fathers cannot model anything to the children accept some small element of behavior when they are at home and have time to provide it. Instinctively wanting to love and respect our parents, we adopt even the poorest examples and with a mixed sense of loyalty and resentment, seek to implement those fragmented lessons.
We have lost mentorship in these ways as well. The only things that are used as substitutes are subsets of some specific and define types of desirable behavior that looks often like toughness, competitiveness, endurance, isolation (sold as independence) and cleverness. The modeling that inner reflection, trust, emotions, cooperation and inter-dependance are equally valid characteristics. I am this kind of man, but because there was no validation of it in my home or society, I often doubted my own value as a man.
Yes, I am male and heterosexual and participate in the economy, but none of those assured me within, that I was indeed a man?
My own experience…
Traveling the many roads of self help has educated me to the map of my psyche. But then there was one region of self I had not conquered, fully investigated, or knew. This identity remained in the Shadow of myself. It was, my relationship to me as a Man!
From wondering if my real worth in life was equatable to what I had earned as income and possessed as assets; to believing that other men were quiet or tough because they had it all together, my heart would often note that my own mirror of what it meant to be a man, was shrouded in assumption.
It was time for Stephen, the human being not the Channel nor spiritualist to step up and face other men. To risk being seen, experiencing my own harsh doubts that I did not measure up or just to know where I stood as having courage and value.
I did this on my 50th birthday.
The day that I arrived my trepidation was palpable. Was I going to encounter some neo-militaristic macho man version of being my manhood? It didn’t matter, I knew that I wanted this experience and that I would sort out my thoughts and emotions about it later. Being amongst men, does not mean anti-woman, it simply means sans-female and the feminine. That was the point of the weekend; to look at myself as a man amongst men. To know my strength, not as hardness or toughness, but as courage, honesty and self-validation.
I learned that we men have 4 historic archetypes: Warrior, King, Lover, and Magician. (While these constructs bear some similarity to the Michael Teaching’s version, their concepts have different overlaps in content.) Each man, masters one or two of these, but to be in the courageous adult self, knowing, honoring, and fulfilling the needs of each aspect is key to wholeness. My father had no way of knowing any of these things, and two real wars WWII and Korea robbed him of the life force to thrive and those wars robbed me, effectively as a result, of a Father.
Conversations about sex and sexuality, women, marriage, emotional intimacy, fear of conflict with other men, shame of being less than, struggle to make a living, were items that were treated with open discussion. Hearing men share their fears, insights, humor, pains, and conclusions about life did much to liberate me and give me an actual sense of brotherhood. Since I had only a sister and no brothers, I had experience only through my high school cronies, all of us whom mentored each other.
Then we were boys preparing the best ways we knew to be men, which was not much at all.
Learning and Validation
By the end of the weekend, I had experiences not so much a transformation as some of my compatriots proclaimed, as for me it was a fulfillment. An acknowledgement that what had occurred in my life did transform me into adult manhood. I could wear this mantle, and do, with no doubt. I am a Man. And as one I feel a sense of duty and purpose to you, my brothers, to tell you my story, and to give you this invitation.
Man Kind Project
This international non-profit organization of men, working to elevate the lives of men “one man at a time” is the sponsor of the New Warrior Training Adventure. (NWTA) Yearly, this body produces hundreds of seminars world wide. Check out their web site at www.mkp.org and find out more about the tens of thousands of men who have traversed their ground of being and stand on the other side inviting you to take the journey.
Being a Man is what you already are…feeling at peace and empowered by it is what you can gain. And doing it side-by-side with other men is the greatest gift of real love and comaradery that I can think of. And if “we are all one” like the philosophers and metaphysicians say we are, then this is a great way to have a genuine experience of that.
Contact them today. There are ongoing support groups, before and after your experience. AHO!