I Will Never Be the Same

In this post, a ManKind Project man from the Pacific Northwest center shares his first time staffing experience at a New Warrior Training Adventure. He tells his story of serving the men who come to complete the New Warrior Training Adventure.

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I Will Never Be the Same
By Bobby Bakshi

I believe that we are all one with our creator. I believe that life is a playground for us to live out the lessons we are to learn from and evolve. It is a chapter in our soul’s journey. The ManKind Project represents the closest I have felt to heaven on earth. For me, a community thrives thanks to the founders’ deliberate design of embracing our light and our shadow. That was the belief I stepped in with when I arrived on Thursday September 4, 2008 to begin the journey of my rookie staffing experience. This is an account of what I gave and took away during this magical NWTA weekend.

The theme of the weekend was impermanence, change and forgiveness. I believe it was thanks to this intention and a strong container built over two months that this NWTA was deemed to be among the most successful and flawless, according to Les Sinclair our leader. Let me begin to describe my experience with a few words about Les, from my perspective. Yes, the man is a legend. He is the embodiment of “servant leader” – part of his mission statement. He models the sovereign’s humility, the lover’s joy, the warrior’s strength and the magician’s intuition for me. He witnessed and blessed my dream and I am so grateful for the universe aligning for him to lead my rookie experience. There are many men I desire to mention by name but I will speak to my experience of those men without naming them for the rest of this sharing.

My personal theme for the weekend emerged in the form of one of my favorite songs/prayers: “I’ll never be the same.” Here’s a quote from Ester Nicholson’s song (click on the link if you choose):

“Been through the fire
been through the flood
Wouldn’t change a single thing
Not even if I could.
I’m so grateful
For all the changes I’ve been through
Made me reach a little higher
Draws me nearer to you
I’ll never be the same.”

This song fit well in my holding space with the weekend’s theme. The impermanence of my life – while I am blessed with a healthy body, I was full of the emotional scars I dragged around before. I believe my initiation a year ago was my final cleansing into my wholeness, into my truth, after years of living a lie. Four years ago, I started the journey of speaking my truth and recognizing that I cannot make the changes in my life I needed on my own. I stepped into Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous recovery that I give full credit for saving my marriage. Impermanence shows up in many forms for me and “I’ll never be the same” is such a blessing as I know I can change my reality for better or worse. I am at choice. Thanks to my doing my work and having a wide circle of men to support me, today I can face the fears of change with open eyes. I believe I do not deny myself those paralyzing feelings when change is difficult and uncomfortable. I also move forward much faster, recognizing that I know longer strive for perfection – instead I embrace the lessons every step I take has to offer. As an aside, I highly recommend taking LT-1 with Jim Mitchell where I learnt this concept that we all have four quadrants we constantly live from: brilliance, average, developmental and “oh boy, did I f— it up!” Thanks to this concept, I am able to live the “courage” in my mission more fully. I do not shy from taking chances. This rookie experience was exactly about that. When I saw an opportunity to serve, I dove in. When I saw an opportunity to be served, I asked for what I wanted.

The theme of forgiveness for this NWTA was also constantly present for me. Up until my initiation a year ago, I lived in fear of my shadow and only knew to ask for forgiveness of those I had harmed. I was at the ninth step in recovery and made amends to my wife. I am so blessed to have a powerful woman by my side for the past eighteen years. She has witnessed and been the victim of my shadow. My work at my initiation was about forgiving myself, the doorway to my feeling whole and alive. I am not fully there yet but thanks to my brothers in MKP and my continuously doing my work – I am dancing with my shadow with joy and strength that I did not have before. Thanks to being given an opportunity to bless during my initiation I am living a continuous blessing for myself and those I touch.

For those who have not heard, Les stated that this was the most flawless NWTA he has experienced in his 150+ trainings around the world. As a rookie, this sets a high bar for my future staffing experiences but more importantly it affirms what amazing things are possible when the container is strong and also nimble. Who would have thought that success possible in the midst of a potential crisis (all the toilets flooded in the both the staff and initiates dorms – no indoor showers and very few toilets all weekend)? I believe the toilet flooding was a big contributor to strengthening our container. Now do not get me wrong. It was not as if every moment was a song of harmony and oneness. There were certainly moments when men were angry and sad at how things were transpiring. What made the difference, in my opinion, was the real-time clearing and forgiveness work that I witnessed men doing. By the way, another first according to many senior brothers – no clearings at the opening circle for the staff.

The food was another “best ever” according to many senior brothers and leaders. I am so blessed to have enjoyed the amazing grub offered by the Men of Service. Let me add that if asked “something I don’t want you to know about me” is that I have great fear about doing MOS someday AND I know that I will step into it. I believe it is the foundation of support for the weekend and enables staff men to offer the initiates the best.

The initiates: where do I begin to relate the magic right from the start? These 40 men showed up ready to work. Yes, I am speaking in general about them as a group, as that was my experience. They opened up to sharing their truth. The did the exercises being present and open to the experiences offered. I witnessed no severe battles with how the initial processes are done which can cause many to crack. As a rookie, it was such an honor to do many things that one only gets to do as a rookie. Again, for confidentiality I will not name the processes but suffice it to say – my rookie experience Rocked!

Let me “call out” one set of new brothers – my brothers from my recovery program. Not only was this my rookie experience but I believe it was the first NWTA in our region with a large representation from my recovery community. We had 6 men initiate plus I had a dear friend who is in another recovery program go through as well (also an elder). Watching these men do their work, from a distance was magical. Not interacting with them till the very end was very important and I am glad that they recognized that as well. We had moments of exchanging eye contact but that was the extent to which I crossed paths with them – being very aware that this was their weekend, for them to create and own.

I am so blessed to have all these recovery brothers confirm what a gift their experience was to them. I now look forward to how they will live their mission and to supporting them as best I can in achieving their dreams.

Finally, but probably most important – I want to send a cosmic POW blast of love to my rookie brothers. We rocked 100%! We got to know each other quickly. We supported each other all the way. It felt like this constant dance of infinity between serving and receiving among us, with our senior brothers/leaders and with the initiates. We laughed a lot together and we shared deep truths that I will hold as sacred. I know that I will stay connected with them, even though we are physically apart. I am so blessed and honored to have served along-side my rookie brothers, and elders. I now go deeper in creating the life I want and it starts at home with my lovely wife and three children. Blessings and I’m out, for now!

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