Boys Playing Men
I had a sweet conversation recently with a man considering stepping (or plunging) into an upcoming IAM course.
He mentioned that, soon after entering his 40’s, he had the realization that he was “a boy playing a man.”
His words, not mine.
It’s important to mention that this is not a man others would likely think of as a man-child. He’s a responsible mover and shaker – a leader who knows how to move others forward – not some lost dude caught in an endless feedback loop of partying, interweb porn, and video games hanging out in a basement.
The man has some significant self-awareness.
And yet, here we were, discussing a very real phenomenon that’s so much a part of our culture that it takes a man who’s got a modicum of awareness to recognize that, yeah, he’s been playing at being a man.
That’s some big stuff!
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ve heard me say that we live in an endlessly adolescent culture. Parts of that culture are arguably cool. (Personally, I’m a shameless fan of most of the Marvel Comic Universe.) At the same time, there are so many thorny shadows that navigating one’s way through the culture and out beyond the endless adolescent feedback loops – without falling asleep, getting sucked in, or both – is deeply challenging.
To say nothing of extremes of getting radicalized into groups of man-children that play at being heroic saviors, whilst doing very real damage.
But I digress.
What I loved about this gentleman’s observation was that it led him to act. It set the stage for reaching out and, if nothing else, starting a conversation about intentionally moving toward becoming a conscious, adult man.
Don’t know about you, but his words are music to my ears. Hell, they bring joy to my soul!
Here’s the thing: My world got a whole lighter and brighter knowing that someone who’s never partaken of a lick of my work is coming in already comfortable with some of the language we use. He’s already grounded in at least one key concept, and possesses the courage and attendant vulnerability (yes, they go together) to speak up, to ask for help.
Geez, if only one in a hundred men woke up tomorrow honestly willing to face themselves with this level of honest self-reflection, the world would become a different, safer, less dramatic, more peaceful, less polarized, and dare I say, more loving place… very quickly.
If you’re wondering why I do what I do, moments like this speak volumes.