Monday, September 21, 2009

An adolescent's journey into manhood

I want to tell you a story about my son's experiences with a passage to manhood. From birth to 7 years of age was his first passage when he started school in a new country, dealt with his first bullies and moved one small step away from me. At around 14 puberty started, his body changed and he asked me to be left alone. He moved one big step away from me. The next passage came when he was 18 years old and he started his university. Most traditional cultures around the world have ceremonies to mark these passages but in our times in the western world these passages are often ignored. Watching him to change I realized that manhood to boys does not come easily. Becoming a man takes many years and many teachers. Some men never reach the title of 'man'. Without appropriate change it is posible to remain a boy your whole life. Struggling to find his purpose and his fullfilment he packed his backpack one day and left. Loosing his sight in an overcrowded airport I realized that this is the modern version of the archetypal hero's journey. The separation for the first time. I hold back my tears not to embarass him. In front of my eyes flickered images from my teenager's years when studying in Russia I saw 18 years old boys draged from their theatrically wailing mothers to fight in Afganistan. Many of them fought for many years and came back broken men, physically and mentally injured men. My son does not need to endure the challenge of war to return as a real man. He is going to explore South America on his own and as a part of a group. I understood that I need to lose him and trust him if I want him to return. The change from mother-child to adult-adult relationship was critical for both of us. I hoped that when he finally comes back he will connect with his father's masculine spirit and mother's feminine tenderness, gain an apppreciation for family traditions, values and beliefs and begins to develop a vision of himself as a young man. I waved back a let him GO.
I can move on, focusing on my own growth. My boy is not mine any more. I release the young man to find his own path to happiness.
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