Enjoy...and then sign up and stop dancin'!
The Dance from MKP New England. Author unknown.
OK, now let's be honest about what happens next. Getting to one of the trainings is actually fairly easy. They're offered all over the U. S. and in many other countries-United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Australia. You can find out the dates online and begin the registration process in about 30 seconds. But what usually happens in the process of getting there is The Dance. One step forward, two back. You know you're dancing when you have one of these thoughts:
- "I'm too different (old, young, gay, straight, fat, thin, poor, rich, black, white) to go." There's no excuse that's too trivial to be used as the reason I can't change.
- "That's way too much money. I'd rather buy toys or pay the rent." That's right-it does cost some money-averaging $600. However, so that money is not the major obstacle, the New England Men's Network has an innovative co-creative payment policy which allows the amount to slide, based on how much a man can afford & how much they get from it.
- "Wouldn't it be possible to read a book or magazine article and get to the same place?" No, actually the training is an experience, not a set of ideas. Sorry, you'll need to show up, and not just with your brain. You should pack your body, your passion, and your soul, too.
- "I'll do that someday-next year, next millennium. Only now I'm not quite ready. I need to. . . (return some library books, mow the lawn, de-fragment my hard drive)." One of the most common things men say after they go through the training is, "What was I doing for the last twenty years?" The best time to do the training adventure? Right now.
- "I'm in therapy, so I don't really need this." Or "I'm not in therapy, so I'm not prepared for this." Nice try, both of you.
- "All right-this is some sort of pyramid scam with a lot of people getting rich, right?" The Mankind Project is a non-profit organization. The vast majority of those who staff a training pay money themselves for the privilege of staffing, and devote huge chunks of time and energy to make the training happen. The training leaders get paid, but not much. If people get rich from the trainings, the enrichment has nothing to do with money.
- "I know how these workshops go: You get a little insight, a little warm-and-fuzzy bonding, then you go back to your life and do business as usual. Pretty soon you ask, remind me-what exactly did I get out of that?" Actually, that's probably right, if the training were the only thing a man did. The heart of the Mankind Project is the I-Groups which start after the training, composed of those who have finished a weekend. These usually meet weekly, and (here's the good news) after 6-8 weeks of learning the ropes with a facilitator, they run on their own with no cost to the members.
- "This is a bunch of navel-gazing. Men who have a good experience together, gain some insight into themselves, then resume destroying the planet and terrorizing their families without making a real difference." A key part of MKP is action in the world-men define themselves as men of service. There are many areas of possible service-working with kids, building a more compassionate company, saving the planet, working in prisons. Even being present with your family is a kind of service.
- "Hold it-this sounds like some sort of religious cult. I already have a religion, thank you." Or "I can't stand religion, so count me out." Men from all major religions are currently active in the MKP-Jesuits, orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Protestant Christians. Also, many are involved who see themselves as non-religious.
Entering the weekend is jumping into the unknown. You don't know what's going to happen. There's no syllabus, no schedule circulated in advance. So the dance you do when you're deciding about going to a weekend is the same dance you do when you're entering the dark future of any change in your life. You may or may not know a man who has gone through the weekend. If you do, he may be enthusiastic, but is generally vague about what happens. One thing I guarantee, though. You will be challenged-physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and personally. (Yeah, ok, a lot of adverbs). So another unknown is this: how will you respond to the challenges? Will you isolate? Lie to yourself and everyone else? Blow up? Freeze up? Screw up? Open up?
Doing the weekend is an adventure. No, you haven't done this before. After you're done dancing, if you decide to do it, you may have a hard time explaining to the significant people in your life what you're doing and why. You may have a hard time explaining it to yourself, like Edmund Hillary did when he made that feeble statement about Everest: "because it's there." But you know, as you stand at the foot of the mountain in your life, that there is something which demands that it be climbed--that there is something about that one peak that will orient things and won't let you rest. No, the weekend won't climb the mountain for you. That's your life and your job. But it may help you name the mountain, it may help you begin to hear its insistent whispering.