Getting off the Ride

“When you’re not feeling holy,

Your loneliness tells you you’ve sinned”

Leonard Cohen, from “Sisters of Mercy”

I’ll be celebrating my 65th birthday in March.  I’m getting a chuckle of that data.  Aside from navigating the singularly American weirdness that is the over-complicated Medicare system, 65 sure is a number.

A week after my birthday, we’ll launch the tenth cohort of my flagship men’s program, IAM.  (IAM stands for “Integrated Adult Man”, but that’s a bit of a mouthful.)

While I have a few secrets I play close to the vest – mostly because I don’t want to carelessly fling spoilers around – it’s no mystery that the course travels a chronologically ordered developmental path.

My rationale, apart from trusting my intuition as a designer of embodied, experiential learning programs, is that we men are encouraged to move away from our deeper selves early in life.  We’re encouraged, shoe-horned, or otherwise squeezed into distorted templates of manhood that are limiting at best.

In other words, we take the walk necessary to unscrew the walk we got screwed up on.

Like so much good inner work, pretty simple, and not easy.

As I discussed last week, we’re in the midst of a crisis in which (among other things) men are dying deaths of despair at rates that should be alarming to everyone.  Yet another article on what’s happening with men, in this case an opinion piece on men and purpose, appeared in the New York Times a couple of days ago.  Similar pieces have been coming fast and thick the past several months.

I expect the trend will continue.

In case you’re wondering about the Leonard Cohen lyric up top, I’m not interested in creating holy men.  On the other hand, I am invested in creating whole, and yes, integrated, consciously adult men.  My jam is blowing up what I can of the mess that has led to the levels of separation, lack of direction, purposelessness, and loneliness that’s resulted in the current crisis.

The bad news is that this work is necessary.  The good news is I’m not the only one working in this space.  There are many of us – and more every day.

But damn, I’m proud of what I’ve created!

It does what it’s intended to do – and does it thoroughly and well.  It’s not fit for men looking for a light-touch, easy sampler.  We’re talking rigorous work here.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll recall the scene in which Luke tells Yoda he’s not afraid of what he’ll find in the cave on Dagobah.  Yoda wisely replies, “You will be…”

The toughest work any human being will likely ever do is going within to discover all of who they are, including the parts pushed away or left behind, the shadow bits, the broken and wounded aspects – and the brilliant, frighteningly powerful parts as well.

For men, facing and laying claim to the realms of feeling can also be terrifying.  After all, why feel when so many of us have been taught that doing so is dangerously unmanly?

For starters, maybe because connecting and feeling is a better alternative than suffering in lonely, desperate silence and separation?  How about climbing out from beneath that mountain of distorted messaging?  

Don’t know about you, but I think opening men to experiences of freedom, self-expression, intimacy, responsibility and dare I say, fun, is a very good thing.

So yeah, I’m proud of IAM and the men who’ve jumped in and shown up so courageously and brilliantly.

No, it’s not the only way of getting off the ride, but for those who know it’s time and are willing to commit, it’s transformative.

The next IAM cohort launches on March 29, 2023.

If you think you’re ready, give me a shout.