I went to one of the Mankind Project's "the Men's Work" things. It's at noon, my time for ninety minutes, three consecutive Sundays in a row. One of the practices we participants were encouraged to try is keeping a journal for five minutes every day. Sheesh. Five minutes? I can't even... In my own experience that's like asking me to take a piss for five microseconds. I can't even think about writing something for less time than that. I'm going to take the assignment as stating: "for at least five minutes." Hell, I haven't written in here in more than a year. So much has happened...or not, depending upon how I judge Circumstances of Influence and Significance. The place seems deserted. There are only two people and one or two groups on my friends list writing with any frequency, as far as I can tell. I find myself wondering if anyone is reading, not that I wouldn't write, anyway. The Semagic LJ client hasn't been updated since 2015. Interesting. Was LJ just a fad? it appears so. Everyone is on Farcebook, now. I'm not much a fan of the medium, however much I like my friends there, many of whom used to be regulars here. Anyway, here I am. Roll the bones.
The Mankind Project group thing looked a little to me like I feel about LJ. There were three of us, [Edit: there were four of us, counting me] for a sign-up that was supposedly global, or at least covering the Western Hemisphere. There were three [four] of us, plus two facilitators for a group whose maximum size was to be capped at fourteen. Maybe I'm wrong in my perceptions. Maybe it's a slow season. I don't know. I've never been to one of these kinds of things before. I hope that I am wrong about what that indicates, as I really believe that these guys are sincere and accomplishing some very worthwhile things. Like the Beatles said: "All the lonely people, where do they all belong." I think these guys may be helping guys find some answers for themselves. There sure are a lot of people in the world who seem to be looking, or look like they ought to be.
I was nervous as hell in the run up to the start time. Once I got in and got talking I loosened up appreciably, which is nice. So, there we were, five [six] guys, trying to make sense of our lives and the world. It was eye-opening. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was interesting as all get out. Different people, all working on different parts of the same big puzzle, and possessed of all sorts of different puzzle pieces. There are so many interesting stories. These guys had very different lives from mine, and they certainly had very different struggles with which they were grappling, than mine. Nevertheless, each of them said things, talked about feeling things, with which I myself was familiar. There was connection, but it was tenuous, to my impression. I think that's due to everything being new, and everyone was trying to get the rhythm of the thing and make sure we all had the groundwork down and had sized each other up carefully. There wasn't a lot of direct interaction, in this session.
The question of the day is, "Why are you here?" I gave my thoughts on the matter. Connection, according to David Schnarch, presents challenges to our senses of integrity and identity. These challenges are an opportunity to confront ourselves and learn to hold onto ourselves, a process he refers to as "differentiation." That's how human beings grow. Logically, I understood this, when I read it the first time, a few years ago. Slowly, I guess I have been internalizing the message and learning how the process works in practice. I told them that this is what I want. I believe it is true. Sometimes, it feels like I have comfortably coasted for the last decade and a half. Maybe I have. Maybe I needed to do that. Maybe I needed the right set of circumstances for things to change. I don't know. I don't know that circumstances have changed all that significantly or not. Sometimes, when I look at the last five years of my life, I see a lot of change but then that "You're Not Enough Monster" comes out of my anxiety closet, and I experience uncertainty and doubt.
Things went smoothly, while we were talking. There was a little bit of jitter going on in me, occasionally. None of it was as nervous-making as my first few conversations with Lauralee. Maybe my experiences with her have left me in better shape to handle conversations about personal things with people I just met. I felt awkward at times, sitting there in front of my web cam, and I felt like I was fidgeting around way more than the other guys. A couple of the guys had military backgrounds and it seemed to me like they had this whole calm stillness thing going on, even while they were talking about really hard things in their lives, and surely, they had to be experiencing plenty of emotional turmoil and disquiet. Admirable. It seems a great skill to cultivate. I didn't have much trouble paying attention; the conversations were fascinating, but still, I just had this impression that it would be even better to be in command of that kind of stillness, for myself.
Anyway, the thing went well. I'm looking forward to the next two sessions. As is not atypical of my conversations with Lauralee, stuff didn't start shifting around and bubbling up until after things had officially wrapped up. I was sitting here at my desk, recollecting and ruminating about what had just happened, about talking honestly and connecting with this group of guys, and I started thinking about the things of which I spoke, and I realized that, far from exhausting what I could have said, there was a host of things more I could have said, although not in the space of ninety minutes, especially when we all were expecting to talk. Heh. Anyway, I had a fierce bubbling up of that sadness I have had, about the way my father expressed his disappointments with me. Zounds, I have no idea why that should have just boiled up when it did. I don't really know what to make of it, and I don't know what to do with it, as usual, but there it was, in all of its painful, sharp, glory, like falling through the ice covering a bitterly frigid lake of sorrow.
So, I've been stirred up the rest of the day. I didn't get done much of the things I wanted to do today. I was supposed to play Minecraft online with my grandson today, but I haven't seen him online since this morning. I think he forgot, or got busy and something else preempted. I didn't get done much of the cleaning I wanted to do today. Still working on it. Things, thoughts and emotions have been bubbling up. There they are. I don't know what to do with them. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to make of them. My relationship with my parents and those with my daughters weighed in. Crazy questions popped up, like my thoughts and ponderings about a hug I got, from, well, L. What was that all about? There's a conversation with her in that experience, I think. I'm not entirely sure what I want to know.