The Ride Of My Life

Two days after leaving Dartmoor, where I’d done The ManKind Project’s PIT training, I found myself on my surfboard, waiting for the next set of waves to swell. Maybe 20 feet away, swiftly with complete grace, two dolphins sprang from the water right before my eyes. For that brief moment we occupied the same space. In the same way, my PIT journey was like those jumping dolphins between the spaces of ride-able waves in my life.

As a young man, just 20, I came to MKP enthusiastic and absolutely “in”. Yearning to explore in depth some unsavoury experiences of my childhood, I threw myself at the PIT only a month after my Warrior training.

What I found waiting for me was a relaxed yet firm environment with the structure, expression and support I needed to touch places within, places that up until now I had only feared.

At the PIT, I was privileged to bear witness to the journeys of nine other men. Their unreserved emotion and willingness to engage with themselves has enriched my view of men hugely. I felt ultimate trust in my brothers, and a deep sense of joy to be a part of their important work with MKP.

I feel as though I’m now part of, and in receipt of, a safety net that will always be below each of our bold swings in life. The net my brothers have woven for me is sprung so that when I fall, the net catapults me further than my momentum can conjure. Equally when I’m in mid-swing focused on the manoeuvre at hand, they can step back and admire my acrobatics!

But that’s enough imagery. I recognise the courage and level of maturity that it took for me to adventure into MKP at a comparatively young age. But doing so has enriched my life deeply.

Being side-by-side with men of greater experience, who have lived and learned some important lessons of life, I got a real burning sense that all young men should have the opportunity to do the same.

With that, I’d like you to think of any young men you may know, and the profoundly positive effect MKP could offer them, as it has me.

Perhaps mention it, and reassure them that being around older people is constructive, reassuring and fulfilling. There’s a sense that a great number of young men of my generation lack decent male role models who can teach them the ways of mature, integrated masculinity.

For me, MKP has certainly addressed that gap in my life, and shown me that role models are abundant, you just need to look with an open heart and mind to find them.

I feel as if I’ve confronted dark seeds within myself before they were left to fester throughout my adult life, which is deeply reassuring for the future.

I now have, thanks to the group’s help and my keenness to delve deep, a new space and awareness within that allows me to truly feel, express and release emotion.

Of course it’s easy to pretend that it’s all plain sailing. There are still obvious parts in myself that I feel it’s important to explore, to be able to stride wholeheartedly towards all life has to offer. But I rest easy now, knowing that the incredible space I was privileged to be a part of, will again be open, ready and waiting for me when the time is right.

I’m at a period in my life where I feel that my trajectory is in many ways defined by my present state of mind and body, meaning that I can recognise opportunity, and shape aspects of my life so they are harmonious with my deepest values.

Deciding to journey into MKP, completing The Adventure Weekend and the PIT, has been one of my greatest decisions and achievements yet. And now I’m excited at the prospect of what the future holds.

I’ve heard stories of surfers and dolphins riding the same waves together. I’ll let you imagine that, and my intended future journey with MKP.

Ben F