I offer it to you as a reference to what can be found at an NWTA.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf
Was It Fun?
I just staffed another New Warrior Training Adventure last weekend. Monday, one of my friends asked me, “Was it fun? Did you have a good time?” I think I grinned a loopy smile at him and offered a few token lines in response. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to encapsulate an answer. What I really wanted to tell him was this:
- I met a bunch of new guys this past weekend. Some older, some younger. Some looked like me, some looked very different. Some straight, some gay. And within the roughly 48 hours of time we spent together, I got to know their hearts, their inner core so well - and they me - that I actually cried upon parting. I actually *miss* men that I didn’t even know a week ago today.
- I had a fierce confrontation with one of the weekend leaders. We really grilled each other pretty hard - we were both intense in our communication. I was angry and (in my opinion) he was too. And it was also respectful. We both managed to listen. He didn’t try to pull any “I’m the fucking leader” bullshit on me. He held himself accountable to his words and actions.
We both had softening moments because there was trust that we weren’t trying to dick each other over or prove ourselves right. The confrontation evolved from fierce to empathetic, to compassionate, to invested in supporting each other. Isn’t that the goal of confrontation? To get to that place?
- An attendee (i.e. not-on-staff man) approached me on Sunday and told me that an activity I co-facilitated on Saturday morning would now change the way he interacted with his kids. He could barely speak to me he was so choked up with emotion. He kept saying things like, “I had no idea…I had no idea.” We walked together for a few moments, reveling in each other.
- A room full of staff men shared grief and sparkling anger about racial disharmony. And not the fucked-up state of the world ‘out there,’ but rather the disharmony within our own staff, our own inability to stand in the fire of differences. It was angry. Fierce. It was also immensely sad, and there were tears of pent-up grief and frustration. We didn’t generate the solution that brings about world peace.
We did, however, get through the experience, stronger and more unified than before. We got through it with a few mens’ special grace leading the rest of us. We got through it with fear, anger, love, and sadness. We got through it with men willing to speak their hard and heartfelt truths and not backing down. And men loving each other beyond what is reasonable to expect.
I left with much to ponder about my contributions to racial disharmony. What do I need to look at?
- There was also exhilerated, howling laughter. I cried from laughing so hard. Most of the jokes wouldn’t translate well in writing just because it’s a ‘had-to-be-there’ thing, but the thing that I loved about this kind of laughter is that the humor was not bitterly sarcastic, it didn’t shame anyone, it didn’t include mean observations about any individuals. Nope. It was goofy, playful, honoring. Teasing. Mildly self-deprecating without descending into viciousness.
- One afternoon, a leader I respect a great deal came up to me and, out of the blue, said, “Have I ever told you that I love you? Have I? I need to tell you that. I love you. I really love you.” He walked away, and I was dazed.
- I walked through fear. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say, “I walked with fear.”
The phrase ‘walking through fear’ suggests John Wayne fortitude or some sort of Braveheart massacre of fear. Nope. I had heart-pounding reservations about doing a specific task and by my volunteering to step up, forced myself to look at that fear, walk with it, discover where it emanated from, and what I would have to do to get over it.
I did not get through this fear alone. One man sacrificed his free time to listen to me and reflect back parts of my shadow. Some of those men I had just met looked me squarely in the eyes, saying, “I believe you can do this. I’ll follow you.” And wisdom from men with far more experienced than I was applied lovingly, gently. I was mentored through this fear with the softness and fierceness of true mentoring, not impossible expectations and being set up to fail.
It was so much better than fun.
It was joy and sadness and goofy pranks and firey conflict and feeling fear and hardness melting, and did I mention heart-so-wide-open-that-doesn’t-the-sky-seem-bluer-today? flavor of joy.
It was about being so very, very alive.