My journey started in earnest a couple of years ago in a pub in Islington, when I shared lovely food and wine with a gorgeous French-Lebanese woman. I arrived clutching a book called “Awareness”, as that was what I was yearning for.
Having changed careers and left my marriage, I was really seeking a different way of being. Two years on, I feel an amazing transformation has taken place, yet I am also aware (good word!) that the journey continues. The lovely Az is now my friend, lover, work partner and above all soulmate. I feel so rich in my life! So what happened?
I opened myself up, took risks and was courageous. I slowed down my furious pace of life and step by step have become more conscious. This was done with much support from so many people, organisations and friends. I did “The Journey” at Embercombe, the Noble Man, the ManKind Project NWTA and a meditation programme. I even spent a weekend Sacred Clowning – the idea inspired by a mention in the last issue of Spearhead!
I see each of these transformational events as pieces in the jigsaw of my life, all equally important as the whole picture slowly emerges. The gold from this has been amazing. Being so much more present and feeling my emotions; seeing those emotions yet not letting them take over and rule me. Starting to write poetry and discovering last Sunday that I could sing! A close, intimate and loving relationship, one with total honesty and openness.
I do not exaggerate to say that there is nothing that I don’t feel I can share with Az. It’s often hard and gritty; Az describes it like the grit in the oyster that you know will turn into a beautiful pearl one day. I see that pearl growing right in front of my eyes and love it. I am so much clearer in my work, know my purpose in being on this planet at this time and am living my values. I feel very clear on my roles and responsibilities, and just as importantly those that aren’t mine to deal with. I am much more honest with colleagues, even when what has to be said is difficult.
My working life is much more harmonious and I know that we have inspired so many others to make positive changes in their lives and companies. The relationship with my eldest son J (who turned 17 the other day) has healed so much. He and I were so close and his pain following my departure really hurt me in a way I could never have imagined.
With R, my other son, we still have a way to go. We have many difficult times and painful words; yet as Jon my wise mentor keeps reminding me “tough is good”; it means he is talking to me, wants to engage, has things to say.
And then there is my dark side, that wonderful shadow so adept at tripping me up. To get others’ love and attention, I realised that I put their needs ahead of mine; then I often felt exploited and taken advantage of, a victim, somehow missing that I made those decisions and that it was me who was in charge of my life. Totally and 100% in charge! This is the maturity that comes from undergoing male rites of passage, some kind of experience which introduces you to the whole of your inner world, dark and light alike.
Now with my affirmation “as a man amongst men, I am loved” I hold my head up high and walk tall in the world, knowing that I am loved…I am loved! I hold my little boy and assure him he is loved and I’m with him every step of the way!
I really want to publically express my gratitude to Az, although this word seems too small for what I am trying to say. She has encouraged me, challenged me and loved me through all of this. I know for sure that without her my life would be much less fulfilling. More than this though. She is on her own journey and is totally committed to discovering her true purpose in life, to loving herself and standing in her power as a woman. She is also discovering her own shadow!
With a far more challenging upbringing that mine, her work has been truly amazing to watch. To see her blossom as the truly beautiful human being that she is brings tears to my eyes. She too has received so much love and support from others, and to them I am so grateful; especially to an organisation called Feminine Power, with whom she is doing a year long programme. Men, get your women friends and lovers to look into it, you won’t regret it! This really is a modern day Rites Of Passage experience for men, and it can have profound effects.
The ManKind Project, MKP, has been a really important part of this journey. I am now a regular at the London Belsize Park iGroup and so look forward to every second Tuesday and sharing precious moments with my fellow men.
Through Ben, who was involved in my NWTA, I ended up taking my boys (young men really!) on a bushcraft weekend. What a beautiful weekend, and what an introduction for them to my new world. They loved it and really got into the spirit of the temporary community we set up in Devon. R’s closing comment was that he didn’t realise how much nature could provide. He really gelled with the other young people, while J’s loving and gentle spirit shone in a way I’m seeing more and more. On the way back to London, R made some sarcastic comment about something being part of “Dad’s weird new age hippy ways”; I resisted the temptation to observe that the weekend he’d loved so much was his entry to Dad’s “weird new age hippy world”!
I still have my PIT training to look forward to and I will definitely staff on an Adventure weekend programme next year.
I look back at some of the ways I was when I first met Az with amazement and wonder. Was I really that detached, unaware, insensitive and caught up in my head? What did she see in me? Although I do love my life so much more now, the way I was served me for many years, and I don’t have regrets. I really need to watch out though for smugness creeping in, as hey presto, my shadow will seize the opportunity and wham, I’ll be on the floor.
Only last week, a sense of being taken advantage of and being the victim lead me to make an extraordinary assumption and a silly accusation. Afterwards I felt so humble, small and useless…..I questioned what all this work was about….was I really that slow? Yet fairly quickly I saw that as long as I learnt something from it, it was OK. So Shadow, I know you have a role to play and I embrace you too….. I finish writing this as I approach the sea for a journey to the Isle of Wight to support some men becoming “Noblemen”’ – a perfect complement to MKP, check it out: www.nobleman.info .
I reflect on how fortunate I am… and I repeat: How rich I feel.