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Is America Ready for Adulthood?

Is America Ready for Adulthood?

1950s picture
“What good is a path that doesn’t carry us to the edge of our capacity and then beyond that place? A true calling involves a great exposure before it can become a genuine refuge.” – Michael Meade
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a political opinion piece.

Wow. What a year it has been already.

Many of us are angry. Sad. Some may feel excited. Hopeful? Or depressed.

As a nation, it seems accurate to say we are confused. That is, feeling many conflicting things all at once, perhaps unable to ascertain what is coming from where.

Before reading on, I’d like to invite us to take a big breath. Start with an exhale. Let it go. Breath in until you’re filled fresh. Gently let it escape again.

Now, let’s take a little journey together…

Just for fun, let’s imagine that the good ‘ole USA is actually a human being. Yes, a “regular” person with the same basic needs and desires as you or I. Create an image of this person in your mind, and start to notice the qualities that come with it. Picture them walking with you or sitting beside you, and invite them to stay with you for the duration of this process. Be patient, and if you have to,  pause until you feel you have become fully present with your guest.

Do you see it as male/female, or with masculine/feminine energy? How old or young does it feel? Is there anything special or unique that comes to you as you sit with this vision?

Stay with your guest for a few more breaths, allowing your attention to focus your awareness to whatever wants to be noticed. Feel free to write them down, or at least make it known what is true for you before I share what has come up for me.

I see a young male. I feel aggression and anger. I see a face that shows almost no signs of emotion and a body that is about to explode from trying to hold it all in. I see images of bullying, heroism, and pride. I hear truths caged into whispers, and excited lies that are boastfully broadcast across the land. I see parts of myself. I feel pain and I witness what appears to be misguided power, a spooky reminder of what happens when a boy inhabits a man’s body.

My experiences suggest that this “boy” is long overdue for a Rite of Passage – a Coming of Age into manhood.

He appears torn between traditional expectations of what it means to be “strong” and the rising voice of rebellion inside of him. His acts of aggression toward his peers have become alarmingly destructive, threatening to disintegrate the very institutions that built his wobbling pedestal. His obsession with hiding his immoral behavior is a clear signal that he is ready for the hard lesson of accountability. And his struggles with women suggest that he is dangerously out of touch with his own feminine energy: the Anima.

On the other side, the outside, his village needs him. It requires his unique perspective and insight. It hungers for his anger to catalyze change through healthy mediums. It thirsts his sadness to fully appreciate what has been lost, what still is, and what will be coming. It cries for his flavor of joy to celebrate the truly epic party that is this life.

If this boy were living in a primitive society from our past, or perhaps one of the few places still holding onto these tools today, he might be whisked away by the men during his sleep tonight. Or perhaps in a severance ceremony he would be instructed to say a final goodbye to his mother and siblings. Or he might be asked to co-create a vision quest adventure with his elders that would test his character and call everything he knows about himself into question.

But he isn’t.

This boy is our child and our village. And he is on the brink of stepping into a bigger story for himself or falling through the cracks.

In great turmoil comes opportunity for a Great Turning, and, now, more than ever, we ought not to recline into complaints, shaming and blame. Indeed, the voices that speak clearly and consistently will guide us toward our unfolding destiny, and yet it is the callused hands of action that will truly shape our future.

Will we initiate ourselves into a new state of being?

– NW

A healthy adolescence is a natural, necessary, and incredibly important part of human growth, and is the life-stage that potentially holds a key to understanding the current block in our personal development and the evolution of our culture. After all, adolescence is that moment to grapple with the great crisis and opportunity of one’s own becoming. The problems arise when there is no way for the individual to move successfully through this stage and beyond it into the next. – Bill Plotkin

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