This re-post is borrowed from Kip de Moll's blog Zen and the Art of the Midlife Crisis. Kip talks about his experience with the ManKind Project and the men he sees there.
Thanks, Kip, for your post.
The Mankind Project
Men do not just talk about football and sex anymore.
Clearly, so many of the stereotypes of masculine and feminine roles no longer apply. The world has changed, and men are adapting.
In my world this weekend, I gathered at a camp with 60 some men who are committed to making their lives better by living consciously, feeling their emotions, and honoring the wealth in others. Being the Annual Gathering required in the By-Laws, there was plenty of financial discussion, hard looks at the past, and lofty dreams about membership growth in the future. Hearty and delicious meals were combined and prepared to feed the mass artfully by an ebullient master who invited men to join him in shifts, and made it fun.
Two workshops were presented to help us uncover thick layers of impenetrable protections over our emotions, and to build porous boundaries of discernment in their place. A ropes course raised us high. An auction raised money for great causes, and kept us delightfully high.
Throughout the weekend, there was a continuous and fascinating thread of men talking over the look and feel of churning emotions in their lives. Not about the promotion in question, the arriving new grandchild, the marriages of agony and joy; the talk was all about the feelings around these events: the envy of another man, the shame of our own inadequacies, the pride for our actions. Each and every conversation was an effort to hold those feelings, recognize how they affect us, be able to shed some of them, and walk more freely in awareness.
Listening to men articulate their passions about making themselves and the world a better place was truly the most moving aspect. Most of these men I knew only as little as I would people at a social function listing job descriptions, number of kids and sports scores. Most of these men I left knowing little more about their particulars, but precious more about the colors of their internal lives.
These are men who can wear wigs, poke fun at each other, and be outrageously silly. These are men who can face each other in conflict and, with all due respect, agree to disagree, recognizing that the charge between them is more about oneself than the other. These are men who can listen, admit they are wrong, and act to restore their integrity. These are men who can compassionately hold their companions accountable, understanding that every action affects the group, but most especially the man in action.
As comfortable to hug as to shake hands, they will do whatever it takes to stand behind a man who suffers, or causes suffering, if he will accept their total--and honest--support. These are men who do not leave their talk at the door like cultists their masks and robes, but take their compassion to the streets, to prisons and soup kitchens, and to their own homes and offices.
To be among these men is to feel strong, safe, cared for, and powerful, to feel alive at the core. These are warriors in the new world.