Attacks and Retreats
I landed in Reykjavik last night around 9:15 PM local time. More accurately, I landed about 30 minutes west of Reykjavik because, you know – that curious relationship cities have with airports, somehow always a half hour away.
On Thursday I’ll be joined by ten other men who’ve agreed that traveling from as far away as Texas and California to spend three and a half days with one another in a converted old schoolhouse south-south-east of Selfoss, Iceland, is a cool thing to do.
We’ll be slowing down and digging deep into our parental relationships, our connections (or lack thereof) with the four elements, our hopes for future generations and, without revealing too many spoilers, other retreat things, too.
We’re doing all of this against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, an ongoing genocide in Darfur, and of course, the Israel/Hamas war.
That we’re retreating in the face of what feels like insurmountable waves of inhuman violence is not lost on me. That these bloody tides are largely (entirely?) driven by the entrenched, outsized egos of men is ever present in my mind and heart…
The former is confused and angry, the latter is hurting, sad beyond measure.
Yet in two days we’ll gather, a small circle of men – some straight, some gay, some queer – for the purpose of opening our hearts to one another and to this extraordinary North Atlantic island nation. We’ll be inviting all of it, and all of one another, to work with us and on us, with the intention of somehow contributing to the broader healing that this world is so in need of.
And wow, am I swimming in the messy, thick soup, swirling and wrestling with my ego – that loud part of me that dashes so quickly between delusional grandiosity and (equally delusional) insignificance. I’m either saving the universe or a useless dust speck, no middle ground.
By the way, I’d love to tell you my ego “just” shows up. You know, that annoying, conversational killing rallying cry of “that’s just the way I am.” But at this stage of my ongoing developmental game, that’d be a half-truth at best. What’s true is that there’s a part of me that reaches for the extremes of ego as a responsibility-avoidance mechanism. (It doesn’t work like it used to, but it still throws my A-game off and makes me miserable to be around – especially for me!)
On the topic of having healing influence, it’s challenging to hold distance, helplessness, hope, fear, vision, impotence, personal power, and more all at the same time. And in all honesty, all those things are swirling around inside.
I cannot imagine I’m the only one having this kind of experience.
As my mentors remind me, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference – and even when my ego is running amok, waving a flag of smallness and defeat, there’s absolutely no indifference.
So yeah, eleven of us, including yours truly, will gather late Thursday afternoon to launch the first-ever IAM graduate retreat. Part of our intention is that the individual and collective work we do will have a positive healing impact on this blue sphere.
Just as cycles of violence lead to more attacks, wisdom – crazy or otherwise – says that healing leads to more cycles of healing.
With that, we retreat consciously, committed to being and becoming good, loving ancestors to all those who come after us. Bring it all, Gentlemen. I’m looking forward to being with you…