So goes the last line of the simple song 75 men and young men at the Essentially Men Pathways to Manhood gathering sang together as we waited to be met by mothers and family yesterday. Sitting here right now there is so much to reflect on that has truly fired the spirit of my son Tim and me too.
This was a gritty, hard, challenging week with men. Great men who shared, endorsed, inspired and challenged us all. Never have I felt so proud and so sad all at once. It took a few days but when Tim found his voice, man, did we hear it. A school life of bullying and being picked on because he wears glasses, because he doesn’t see as well as others, because of this, that and it didn’t matter what. Any bloody excuse will do. Bullying turned to a stone-like resistance built out of fear of failure. Adults then embark ed on their own special form of bullying – bludgeoning into submission, challenging in his face: What is it Tim? Is it about you only? What is your problem?.
In your 17 years Tim you have faced challenges that few can understand, but I tell you Tim, and you know this, 75 men who love and admire you know. And they were there for you and are there now for you. When they said sorry on behalf of all the boys and men who have bullied you, they meant it. You stand tall now. You have greater strength than all of those bullies put together. The boy is gone. You are a young man. You want more one-on-one with me. You will have it. You fire my spirit more than you can imagine. I love you.
And let’s reflect on what the men said about you: Strong, a great conservationist who extends the topic, funny, you want to please, courageous, cool to hang out with, a sensational smile, resilient, independent and they said you should cherish your ability to think outside the norm. I could go on and on how they affirmed you.
They want you back next year to help out. And let’s not forget the Golden Pisspot award you won for the the Young Pathways Man (you better explain to the women where pisspot comes from!).
This journey gave me a deep reflective space to get my own life in balance. Thanks to all the men at the gathering. You are special and formed to deliver one of life’s crucibles for me.
All the elements are with you Tim. Stand tall and proud. The men all stand with you. Thank you for taking me.
Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, fire my spirit.