GRANT McKENZIE: Becoming a modern man

What does it mean to be a man? It’s a question that is constantly being weighed and challenged by both sexes as expectations evolve...

What does it mean to be a man? It’s a question that is constantly being weighed and challenged by both sexes as expectations evolve and change with the times.

If you’re too gentle, do you risk being seen by the opposite sex as unexciting? If you’re too rough, do you risk being seen as a brute? If you show emotion at work, will you be considered weak? If you show anger and frustration, will you be considered unstable?

Can you be a gentle father at home, yet an effective boss at work? And how do you meld the two together?

We haven’t strayed far from the jungles and caves of our ancestors (especially in the corporate world) as it’s still an eat or be eaten world, but, for generations now, we can no longer rely on the actions or inactions of our parents to be the role model of how we’re meant to behave. It wasn’t that long ago when young girls were taught to cook and bake from their stay-at-home moms, while the boys were told to get an after-school job to prepare them for a life ahead of supporting their families. Now, it’s more likely that both partners work full-time and neither of them knows how to cook.

But is the man still supposed to be the major wage earner? And if he’s not, is he able to set aside feelings of guilt or inadequacy that crackle deep in his DNA? And is there still some part of us that needs to thump our hairy chests and howl at the moon?

Grant Waldman, executive director of West Coast Men’s Support Society, believes that men need to take care of themselves and learn how to ask for help when needed rather than becoming isolated and “sucking it up.”

In supporting The New Warrior Training Adventure, April 12 to 14 in Shawnigan Lake, Waldman wants to help men create a new sense of purpose and to understand what it means to be a healthy mature male.

The weekend will offer men the opportunity to “take a good look at themselves and talk about what’s working and what’s not in their lives,” says Waldman who has both experienced and witnessed the transformational power of the program for himself.

Developed and delivered by The ManKind Project, the program opens the door for men to experience a level of energy, a quality of masculinity, a deep sense of safety, joy and laughter, anger and fear, physical challenge and an opportunity to look with fearless honesty at the life they’ve created.

In short, Waldman adds, “You’ll discover your unique connection to manhood, explore a new way of understanding masculinity, and step fully into the man you envision yourself to be.”

The program costs $700 (although no man is turned away for financial reasons) and more details can be found at westcoastmen.org. M

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