We, as Emerging Men, can look back to our very first job, for our very first company, and remember how awkward that was. We might forget the awkwardness, but we never forget earning that first $2.00 an hour.
You never worked for $2.00 an hour?
Man, you haven’t lived until you’ve worked for a farmer, baling hay, making $2.00 bucks an hour, in the mid-July summer heat, getting fed a big lunch and supper of real home-cooked food… at the ripe old age of sixteen… riding on top of the loaded hay wagon, and waving at a pretty country girl, and smiling to yourself when she looks at you and waves back, and then after the day is done… on the drive home having the fullest feeling of accomplishment you have ever had or, looking back, ever will have because you got all the work done, and learned a few things from the farmer. Then when you finally get home and showered, you were able to get one of the best kinds of sleep that night that there is.
I thought that day, especially when I was riding back to the farm atop that, “jerks to the left so hang on,” hay wagon, “I’m a man.” Yeah, when you’re sixteen you’re kinda dumb;) But somewhere between sixteen and thirty-eight I lost that youthful outlook about my manhood.
Looking back I can appreciate that “entry-level” position, in fact I believe the world would probably be a better place if every boy had to ride atop a hay wagon that jerks to the left, in the summer heat, after loading and unloading so many bales of hay.
A common ‘Rite-of-Passage’
In his book, ‘The Rites of Passage’ Arnold Van Gennep gives excellent explanations of Separation & Incorporation, his book is described as, “a classic study of cultural celebrations.”
Today’s Emerging Man is obviously lacking some of these ENTRY LEVEL experiences into manhood that allow him to feel the sun on his shoulders, along with the hand of a father or grandfather, that provide him with the sense that he has outgrown his boyhood, and with that full feeling of teenage accomplishment, they point out to him his possible future and path as a man.
Each of us has a responsibility to separate ourselves from childish ways and to incorporate ourselves into the behaviors of a man.
I am not the sun, I cannot apply the type of either, soothing or searing heat, that can help make you feel accomplished… I can be, through my writing, a man who can place his hand on your shoulder and point out a way, for you start down, concerning becoming more of a man.
In his book, The Rites of Passage, Van Gennep explains, “Among the Masai of Kenya a boy cannot undergo circumcision,… unless the father has performed a ceremony called “passing over the fence,” which signifies his acceptance of the status of an “old man,” to be called from then on “Father-of-(his child).”
I can relate to this.
When I got married we decided to live in my wife’s hometown. I was glad that my kids would not be going to my hometown schools, and having to deal with the baggage they would be endowed with by me and my family when they would get into school.
I had a goal… when my kids got into school in this new town, with a new set of teachers, the teachers would not know who I was.
My kids would have to stand and deliver on their own merits. With no interference from me.
I did participate as a field trip chaperone, little league coach, and audience member for plays, recitals and graduations… but the faculty didn’t really know me.
I had five kids. When the oldest was a junior in high school, and the youngest was just getting started, I wasn’t known as Mr. Bosquez… I was known as Kyle’s, Cole’s, Taryn’s, Logan’s, and Josie’s… dad.
Looking back my ENTRY LEVEL position into manhood started when I became “The father of Kyle.”
I could still “jump a fence” if I had to, and I revel in my newest held position of “old man,” believe you me, I didn’t think I would make it this far… but I can’t wait for the next level, the last level, one where the Rite of Passage requirement is only that of the passage of TIME itself… and thereby earning the title of… “Old Timer.”
As you progress and Emerge as a Man, as you encourage, equip & engage those around you… be aware of those ENTRY LEVEL experiences… at each and every age and stage… take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate those moments. Capture them in your journal, blog, or with a photograph.
And then look out to the future with that feeling of accomplishment of that sixteen year old who, so long ago… made it back to the farm, atop a loaded, sketchy hay wagon that jerks to the left, with the summer sun resting on his shoulders.