“Sometimes we all just lose sight of the pain that can guide us from dark unto the light”
- Michael Franti
What does it mean to be a man? How do I become a man?
These are questions that stirred deep within me, and the more still and silent my mind became the louder these questions roared. Thus far in life, I had done a good job of drowning these questions out with superficial noise and distraction. Now comes the inevitable discomfort of sitting still and recognising the deep inner stirrings of a discontented, unsure mind.
Flash back 8 years ago and that’s exactly where I was. So freakin’ unsure of myself and who I was, just fumbling through life, acting to others as if I had all the answers yet was in a limbo of uncertainty. I was attempting to emancipate myself from my family, yet I needed them more than ever. I was trying to free myself from the bondage of self worth issues, yet the comfort of suffering was easier than the fear of liberation, as that liberation involved so much uncertainty.
Yet, to be honest, I wholeheartedly believed that I could be really happy. I KNEW peace was possible, and the embodiment of patience would see my mind unravel.
So I continued to sit still and practice.
For 10 days I sat in silence and witnessed the waves upon the surface of the mind settle. The movements on the surface of the sea where replaced by deep ocean surges that, one by one, arose and passed. The biggest surge came with an inner earthquake, that rattled that tectonic plate under the sea, causing a title wave that erupted upon the shores of my eyes. I sobbed and sobbed. Who knew I even had that level of pain inside of me? Who knew that me, the happy-go-lucky, friend to many, was holding such grievance. As this emotion arose I heard myself say “I have no idea how to be a man.” I felt betrayed and let down by life, and by the people that were ultimately meant to teach me such fundamental things. I sat, wallowed and watched the inner landscape of my preconditioned mind get destroyed by this grand title wave.
There came a point where the wild storm just turned into deep stillness, such is the nature of all storms. It was a stillness I hadn’t previously known. I had built towns and cities inside, all as attempts to find the answers to the questions I had inside, and all as a means to protect me from facing the uncertainty of not knowing. I held the identity of a man based upon what I thought it should be, informed by my impressions in life.
As these structures of thought crumbled to the ground I realised that what I have been looking for all along was already within me. What I desired was the courage to be, and act as I already am.
Once again, pain became a guiding force from darkness to light, and such is the gift of meditation.
The meditative space within me instantly changed my perception as a new sense of self began to arise.
I am already a man.
I am man enough.
I could try and fit in and be like him or him or him. Or I could stand up and scream fuck yes and celebrate the very gift of being me. The choice is mine.
There’s nothing I have to do to become a man, other than be myself, and most importantly, choose what that means. How do I choose to express myself in this life? And how can I do that with EVERYTHING I AM!?!
This morning, as I am sitting here on the beautiful Island of Lombok, I thought about that moment 8 or so years ago. It was a really decisive moment for me. And as I look back over the past years, my life really changed as a result of being more easeful and at home inside of myself, and also as a result of remembering that I have freedom of choice!
Of course, I am still learning, growing and evolving everyday, but what I can honestly say is that I feel so proud to be a man and to be the man I am. I feel so happy that I can be a good man to my wife and friends. I feel glad to be in my own skin. And I feel lucky that life gifted me with the time and space to learn about myself so that the man I am, over time, became a reflection of the truth of my heart, rather than a reflection of whatever environment I had been exposed to.
Keep meditating, keep practicing, especially if it gets tough as that means it is working. Meditation is THE BEST self cleansing practice, so when it starts to work run further into practice, not away from it.
I LOVE YOU