MY MDI – A Place to be Known… Really Known

Jim Ellis
Southwest Region
San Diego Men’s Division

We are all MDI.

Everyone in our circle – no matter where that circle resides – can claim residence in a space of honor, truth telling, camaraderie, masculine care and success for all. Each week of the year, there will be a “circle up” in San Diego, Maine, Boston, Oakland, New York, Atlanta, Calgary, Toronto and in other parts unnamed. Even in one city alone, such as Los Angeles, there will be a number of teams that join together for their own purpose. 

Under this banner of “MDI” we meet … though some may not think of it this way. We know there is a common MDI purpose statement that begins with “causing greatness,” and it is likely true that each man in our organization will have his own purpose statement and definition of how he personally defines his MDI. 

For me, I have many thoughts on the matter, having been here in the Men’s Divisions before we ever nabbed the acronym MDI and claimed we were here to Mentor Discover and Inspire. I’ve seen many alterations, additions and subtractions over time. But there is one thing that comes to mind, now, when I consider the very foundation of my MDI.

This is a place of unconditional acceptance. 

Let me explain. 

First, here is the response you may get from the shit world and some dark corners of your mind when you consider revealing your personality: “We know who you are, and that’s not good enough, in fact, you’re kinda bad.”

Here is the response you may get from the family court system, the media, and some law enforcement if you reveal some of the deeper aspects of yourself: “We know who you, are and you’re under arrest.”

Here is the response you get from the MDI men when they find out who you are:  

“We know who you are and … welcome.” 

“We know who you are and … yeah, what else is new?”

“We know who you are and … I can pretty much relate.”

“We know who you are and … ready to move on?”

It doesn’t fucking matter! It doesn’t matter your quirks, your lame-ass tendencies, your failures of the past. It doesn’t matter your color, nationality or religious leanings. It doesn’t matter your deep thoughts on this or that. It doesn’t matter your sexual deviant thoughts, or any other guilty pleasure. It just doesn’t matter. Not really.

I recall many moments a man standing in front of a larger circle where he spends some time revealing some trait, some quality that he heretofore THOUGHT was so very well hidden from the rest of the men. After his admission – of whatever it is that he thought hid in clandestine shadows – he would be met with a collective nod of silent “Yeah, we knew that.”  

Yeah we knew that. No biggy.

The men know. They just know. It doesn’t take long for a man to be known in his circle – his positive traits and negative traits and all the results that come from both. 

But here is the kicker … the men accept him anyway. Not that the man won’t hear the truth about how he is showing up, on the team and in his life. Not that he will be allowed to slide by with dishonorable actions. It just won’t stop the men from doing what they do at the deepest level: care. 

Perhaps many of us are unaware of how much we are observed and seen, and unaware how deep this perception can go. Perhaps we are unaware that even with this observation (or maybe because of it) we are embraced and respected and given chance upon chance to show up at our best. Perhaps we, the men, don’t see how unconditional a space these circles do provide.

For me, this space of unconditional acceptance is one of the greatest qualities that exist for what I proudly call “my MDI.”

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