Twenty-five years ago this week, three men; Rich Tosi, Bill Kauth and Ron Hering, held the first ever “Wildman Weekend” for 18 men which later became known as the a New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA).
For me, this brings up a lot of thoughts about service, connecting paths, and hope.
Twenty-five years ago, I was not even remotely aware of men's work. I was doing men's work of the standard kind.
I was a second mechanic on an endurance race car team (click the link and you'll see me pointing at the car in 1988) out of southern California. I had been there one full season and was working with the most un-centered, un-feeling, mean-spirited bunch of guys you can imagine. Every moment was a chance to heckle or pound down the guy you worked with. I look back at my four seasons "in the ashes" as a time to remember the accomplishments and let go of the pain of it. It was brutal, it was educational in many ways, and I would never go back there.
During that time, three men were working an idea that would later change my life...and the life of many thousands of men around the world. They took the idea that men still need an initiation and ran with it, where no one else did, to create the NWTA. I find myself wondering if Tosi, Kauth, and Hering knew that 25 years from that time men would be holding an honoring space for them and their efforts. I wonder if they have any idea how many ways they have changed the world around them. It is a very profound thought to consider that we as a individuals change the world around us. We do...and these men have, in a large and wonderful way.
Today, the a NWTA and a MKP stand as a place for men (me) to be themselves and to search for and reach their (my) dreams using their (my) own hearts and ideas.
I asked men to tell me what they were doing 25 years ago and where they are now. In no particular order, here's what they said (see below).
Daniel McClenahan; Great Calming Crow; "Men at Work" I-Group Intermountain Area
25 years ago I was 4. I was still in diapers, I was dependent on just about everyone. I had few if any things that were not beyond the basic necessities of life. So why write this? Because the one thing I do know is that at 4 I was still pure. There was Innocence, the kind that gets lost quickly when as you grow. At the time I was so pure that I was completely unaware of the things that had already happened to me.
By the age of 4, my biological father had abandoned my mother and I and whom to date I have not and most likely will never meet, my mother had remarried a man she was already being unfaithful to, but would stay with for another 8 years. This new father had already bonded with me and considered me his son and when confronted with my mother carrying my brother who was not and could never have been my fathers child took him on as well and did everything he could to take care of us. The arrows in and arrows out however could not be avoided.
25 years ago, three men came together so that nearly 25 years later there would be nearly 4 dozen men holding a space and a place for me at my initiation weekend. Because of this I was not alone when I went searching and found my shadow and brought it in front of me to hold it in light and face how none of the things I have lived through were my fault. To face how my legacy with my own son doesn't have to follow all the same patterns. To take the Man-child that had existed and let him die so that the man could live. MKP has given me the ability to actually make a change in my own future and in so give my sons the kind of nurturing that will help them to become the men that MKP has helped me to find in myself today. The NWTA is the kind of thing that is looked back on from any point in life as a turning point to a new way of life and a new path that for me had eluded me until I experienced it.
Luke Boa; Free Elephant
As a 29 year old British male I was full of questions and doubts that made living my life, the way my 'true self' wanted, impossible. I attended the New Warrior/MKP training 16 years ago, and have been involved with the organization ever since. I am now living the life, and the way, my true self wants. I am a gentle, loving, honest, brave, free, powerful, playful and happy man. I believe the MKP/New warrior training was the catalyst for my current life. And for that I am, and will always be Grateful. To all Involved my deepest thanks. Peace.
The First day of the Rest of My Life
Bryant Bell; Loving Deer
A lot has changed in my life since 1985. I felt like I was just drifting through life. I thought I knew what I wanted out of life, but I didn’t know to achieve it. Finally in the early 90’s I earned both my bachelor and Masters Degree. This helped some, as I now had employment that allowed me to accomplish some of my dreams. But I still felt incomplete.
Friendships were few and good solid relationships never developed. I eventually decided that living a life alone was not all that bad and I started to isolate myself from those around me. Of course I realize now that this is not the best path to follow.
Eighteen months ago a friend talked to me about the New Warrior Training Adventure. I was intrigued, but I wasn’t ready for this experience. Then Five months ago I was invited to attend a Men’s I-group. I remember driving home thinking about the great experience I had just participated in. I liked it! I went back the next week and again it felt good. A few weeks later I made the commitment to attend the New Warrior Training Adventure in November at Camp Augusta, CA. There was some fear that nearly derailed me a couple of times, but I will forever be grateful that I attended the weekend. I see changes in myself, changes which I like. I also realize that this is a journey that I have embarked upon and I have a long path ahead of me. But I’m excited to see where this path leads.
As I left the mountain that Sunday afternoon in November, at the conclusion of the training, I felt alive. I felt that I had a purpose to live. I experienced things that weekend that have changed my life. I decided on that drive home that this would be the first day of the rest of my life.
I don’t know the men that started the Mankind Project, but I want to thank them for providing a path that I can follow, that is changing my life for the better.
Graydon; Powerful Dog
When I look back at where I was in January 1985 I feel angry and ashamed at how I was wasting my life. From outwardly appearances I looked like I had my life in order. A good banking job, a nice apartment and a reliable car. On the inside I was a wreck. My life really revolved around moderate to excessive drinking during weeknights, and excessive to blackout drinking on the weekends. Frequently driving under the influence and a determined quest to have sex with any willing female, married, single or already in a relationship, it did not matter. I was so unhappy and angry. I thought about suicide on occasion and I was on an unconscious mission to destroy myself.
Fast forward almost 20 years to 2003 I was in my second marriage, surviving as a pretty well functioning alcoholic who was subject to sudden and violent outbursts of anger. I was unhappy, pretty dead inside, stuck in a rut and heading towards a second failed marriage. Through a series of male connections I discovered the MKP web-site and was immediately hit across the head, as if by with a 2x4, by a heading that read "Are you the man you thought you'd be?" This was my wake-up call. I had never before thought about who I'd become. I quit drinking in April 2003 one month before attending my MKP warrior weekend in May. My life was turned up-side-down. I saw that I had potential to do anything. I woke up and decided to make giant leaps to a new life.
I now am a sober happy loving father, husband, brother and son. I show up emotionally and physically to everything I commit to. I sit in an I-group every week and through the guidance and support of my fellow brothers I am on a path determined to become the man I thought I'd be.
Courageous Buffalo; Camp Krem 2003
25 years ago, I was trying to find my place in the world...trying hard to fit in without losing myself. I was walking a fine line and doing it pretty well. I was in a good place but was young (22) and disconnected from my true self. Walking the line was a matter of great effort.
Over the years, I mostly lived true to myself...a life of integrity and commitment. Yet, it was 80% of my potential...a good life instead of a great life. How many of us let good be the biggest barrier to great? I was mildly out of integrity, allowing myself outs, just sliding through a bit here and there...having a good life.
During my NWTA weekend, I saw how the other 20% was like a constant low-grade fever...the difference between good and great...something that you had to manage and "deal with" all the time. Wow, what a wake up, especially because if clearly saw why I was blocked from the other 20% and how getting the other 20% was not a matter of effort or task but simply of becoming aware of my choices and lack my of integrity...things I could handle with little physical effort, money or life change. Of course it required inner work and the help of others, but I knew that the last 20% could make all the difference...and it did.
It is a constant piece of work to keep the 20% in focus, but that is how other men (and women) can help, as they have for me. I now know where the path is, even if I stray.
In Jan of 1985 I was 3 month's away from attending my first 12 Step Mtg and a clumsy beginning to my lifes work. Thankfully I entered the MKP door in March 2002 , I was ready!