Jeff Kidman Contributing Writer
Legacy Discovery Shaman Jeff Kidman brings to you exercises you can undertake anywhere, at a time that works for you. For the man on a men’s team, in a men’s group or out there on his own. The intention of these exercises is to bring you into greater connection to something bigger, so that you can broaden your context, reach your highest potential and ultimately be more successful in the endeavors that matter to you and those you influence.
It takes all kinds.
There are all kinds of men.
There is more than one kind of maturity.
My picture of the Mature Masculine is a picture of embracing and sometimes playing with the many energies in a man’s life. I have been blessed to be a participant and also to help lead events where we ask men and sometimes teenagers to take some steps toward the man they will and want to become.
We build a small community to make these happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if each of these temporary communities had only mature leaders to guide them? Not really, in truth the mature community needs it all. The successes and the failures, the guides and the men and boys who simply cannot take off the mask they wear to protect their hearts. Even the ones who challenge those around them at every step, whose every answer is “no.”
My personal picture of the Mature Masculine is a man holding the door open for others. Knowing some will go around. Knowing some will try to break the door down, and others will not even see it.
I have personally been called on to play many roles over the years to hold that door open.
My favorite has been the Magician. I have been the man to create magical feeling spaces, where we can give our hurts and nemesis to a fire. Where we walk through gates of smoke, and candles and swords and tokens of spirit. I have been the man to help imbue meaning into ashes and stone disks worn around necks. All to help keep the door open, to move forward towards that shining man in the distance. These acts and symbols can create a memory to build on, a path to choosing some aspects of the mature to live day to day.
I have also been the man who doesn’t know, who will not pick up the mantle of wisdom. That is the shadow, something we need not rid ourselves of. Knowing when to play the trickster is important. Knowing when a lie will better honor the truth by using the shadow wisely. Using the Magician kind of man, we can help men and boys imagine their way out of their self-made prisons, out of choices they thought were already made for them.
The Warrior spirit can be challenging for me. I desperately want to be liked and remembered fondly. Yet I have had to be decisive when I wanted to be loving. I have had to cancel events where we would not be serving. I have had to take the arrows myself so that others in our community might not be hurt, not knowing if it would even work. I have had to inspire action in others when I wanted to retreat to my fires and talisman. And I have had to choose to be the bully to create needed action where inspiration and wise words did not work. I have chosen the shadow when it served.
Being in the Lover energy comes all too easily. I can fall naturally into feeling and listening for others to reveal their hearts. For me personally this has often felt like a deep well of emotion that has no bottom. I choose to climb into that well to heal sometimes, other times choosing to deeply indulge in one emotion so that anxiety or numbness don’t take over. When I am in this Mature energy, I can acknowledge whatever I’m feeling and also rejoice and accept the emotions in others. I have seen this serve in giving others permission to accept their own emotions and even judgements about themselves. When we can be present to the truth in others, we can help set them free.
We often refer to the King as well. I have been the King when I have gathered and stood for the community at large. When I have put the stake in the ground to make sure we continue to hold open the door for our men and boys to claim who they will become. I have been the King when I hold a vision for one of our weekends and make sure we do all we can to provide for those who come. I have put the stake in the ground and also pulled it up and retreated. I have also wanted it my way because I said so. Demand and chaos are the shadow of the King, and they continue to scare me. As I write this, I am learning that this shadow is where I need to learn the most for myself. This shadow still has a hold over me.
When I look at the Mature Masculine, it is a man who can dip into each of these ways of being as needed. The whole Mature doesn’t have to always be the King but can be generous when needed. He can laugh or cry with and for others. He can create a vision for the success of others. He can protect and be decisive.
I hope the Mature Masculine is what guides us to offer our circles to more men. I hope it leads us to offer more Legacy Discovery weekends. I like to think that the Mature Masculine is at work when we take care of the teen and young men in our midst like we do with Boys to Men and other youth work.
And I KNOW that we cannot have the mature without the shadows. We still must invite the men and young men who are living in their shadow ways. Some of them will stand with us to make things happen. They will touch the Maturity in their lives and retreat to the comfort of old ways. In our full Maturity as men and as a community we must acknowledge and accept the shadow, even when our sons and brothers and fathers are living in it.
We need all kinds.