Lucky for me Fraser and Liz are happy to have me stay with them. An oasis in this urban megatropolis. I stop moving and sleep a quiet sleep, warm and cozy. Then prepare myself for the Essentially Men weekend. I am nervous when the van won't start, wearing the battery down I get impatient. I maintain my cool, Fraser tows me up the driveway and I jump it. I find myself on a road I traveled when I was last here looking for the way south. I park on a slope as the fellow next to me grabs a quick smoke before heading inside. We file in, faces mostly masked in silence making small talk, taking our seats pressed together in front of the window. "Did you lock your car?" someone asks. I wonder, will it be broken into? What kind of neighbourhood is this?
The staff men emerge, disappear and re-emerge from the back room. Finally everyone it seems, has arrived (!) and the intro begins... Another man appears at the locked door.
We listen politely then follow the instructions, eyes closed, trusting the process. There is noise, sensory stimulation and finally drumming. We listen, we talk together one on one, meeting each other as strangers. We dance, we sing, we have tea and listen some more. I feel a bond of some kind with a couple of men. It is late when we depart. I wonder where this is taking me. I park so I can jumpstart the van if need be.
We are expected to bring food for lunch and dinner so I grab some typical fare from the local New World and drop it in the kitchen. We are all here but one. We connect again in diads and tell stories of our lives. Dad figures big in this, we sing again and massage shoulders standing. Break for tea and tell more stories. The men leading the process are dedicated and committed with passion and compassion. There is something about this that gives me pause for thought. I call it warrior lite in my head but that doesn't describe it. It is a respectful, thorough exploration of being male in New Zealand. I speak to my perceived contradiction around rugby and boxing and the non aggressive, non violence we are as men expected to model. Later I get the connection to Lover Archetype which gives me big pause for thought around Warrior.
I want to connect with one man especially. He smokes, so at the break I sit outside to listen and add what seems appropriate. Like a joke or two! I am so aware of my difference, my Canadianism. I try to be wise and humble, when I tell them I am there to observe, to learn, to understand the differences and similarities because I want to have an impact on the way men proceed in the world. How I/we relate to children and partners and to address the domestic violence that plagues our societies. I am wearing my Dads Make A Difference T-shirt. On the back it says "When you follow the path of your father, you learn to walk like him" Some men pat me on the back, commenting.
The meals are feasts. Everyone has brought more than enough, I stuff myself on food I seldom sample. Sunday I buy blueberries and a long sausage roll.
Stories, diads and an exploration of mom. I'm looking deeply at my relationship with the feminine. Stunned at how much is there ("hello! are you paying attention?") In my face, I experience major confusion. I resolve to reconnect with my therapist... and review just how much I have spent getting here, being here what has brought me here. Please, please, lets NOT make it about the money.
The change in men's faces is remarkable as we wind up that evening. I feel a closeness and a distance. I am after all, an outsider. Rex the creator of the weekend arrives and we talk during dinner. Amazing how articulate I can be when I have someone to speak with who is similarly focused. What I get is the importance of an intiation experience that needs to reflect the community values. Not static or rigid, evolving with the local culture, satisfying the desires and needs of the men to pass on important understandings of community beliefs, ritual and morality. What I see as the antidote actually to a generic society that devalues and diminishes the importance of emotional expression and connection. A model of intimacy that enhances and encourages friendship, tolerance and support.
We meet again the following Tuesday, I am happy to see so many attending, sad I am unwilling to be there, my choice to go home.
I am still processing the weekend days later.
Somehow I left my cup behind, it is nowhere to be found. Another bit of me stays here.