As of June 6, 2014, I will have been a computer programmer for 47 years. I estimate that I have written over three million lines of computer code in a plethora of programming languages, many of them long dead. But who gives a shit? Sure, programming has paid the rent… at least most of the time. But will anybody actually look at and really read the code I have spent so much of my life writing? Probably not. So what really matters?
This past weekend, I was part of the staff for a New Warrior Training Adventure that took place at Camp Pringle on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Eighteen men showed up to wake up and be “initiated” into adult manhood, while 32 men paid to stand in support of these men. Only three men were paid to lead this event, and then only a pittance.
The initiates arrived on Friday evening and entrusted themselves to the staff who led them through a maze of processes which took most of them way outside their comfort zones. We kept them up until after midnight then awoke them early the next morning and continued. We collectively endured a marathon process on Saturday afternoon that required each initiate to step through the cultural training men have been raised with and become open, honest and vulnerable.
By Sunday morning, I was exhausted. I had worked hard and slept poorly, but the change in the initiates (by now, “new brothers”) was palpable. To a man, they were thankful that they had stepped through their fears and allowed themselves to crack open. They had begun the process of awakening to consciousness.
In the coming weeks, months and years, some of them may fall back asleep, but more and more frequently, they stay awake and continue the work of peeling away the layers of psychic mud they have collected over the years. On staff with me this weekend was a man who went through his weekend with me over 12 years ago.
This was my 36th staffing. I am in training to become a co-leader or eventually, a full leader; but that may take many more years and may never happen. For me, consciousness work is often quite difficult. All that computer programming may have taught me to speak to computers, but listening deeply to human beings can be infinitely more challenging.
Every time I staff, I learn more about myself and more about the parts of me that hide in the shadows of my unconsciousness. Often, the learning is painful as I recognize how little I really know and how much work faces me. But like a moth to flame, I am drawn back to the work over and over. Sometimes I explode in flames and sometimes just my winds get singed, but I always find something to take me deeper.
Every once in a while, I tell myself it would be easier to just volunteer to feed the homeless and help nourish them for a few hours. But when I look into the eyes of my new brothers, I find myself hoping and even believing that I may have been a part of changing lives for generations. And that matters.