It doesn't feel that long since we got the ball rolling, and at the same time, it feels much, much longer. Sort of like the 22.5 years that I've spent with my loving husband. Life is like that.
So MUCH has changed, and it has all been very, very good. My personality type says that I am a much better Innovator than I am a Maintainer, but I'm not feeling burned-out, discouraged or codependent, like I used to get, when the tasks I took on became more than I wanted, needed or planned for.
The difference this time around is that FMSD is a constant source of joy, affirmation, true community, and an ever-growing source of new, solid friends that are going to last me for the rest of my life. I'm not feeling burdened or obligated, and I'm not suffering like a martyr. I find this to be remarkable.
A random sampling of our younger brothers.
Instead, I will use last night's HARNESS party as an example of why I'm walking four feet off of the ground every day:
There was low turnout, as everyone predicted, long beforehand - It was late in the holiday season, with calendar-conflicts like no other time of the year. It SHOULD have been a bummer.
Instead, the men who showed up were rock-solid in their affectionate brotherhood. Guys walked in, and the hug-fiesta went on and on. Joyful smiles, mixing and mingling, with forming of close, intimate groupings that split and re-gathered throughout the evening. The ages ranged from the early 20's through the 60's, with no distinction between anyone at all - The blending was ideal.
It was just a bunch of nice, sexy and real men, in gear, with no artifice, and no bullshit needed or requested. These are men that aren't just requiring Tribe of others, they are actively providing it, over and over. I spent the evening greeting the new guys, adding them to the mailing-list, and and letting them know what our group is about. If everybody knows what is expected, then they are more likely to relax and dive in when they are ready.
I do this because it WORKS. Not everybody is going to jump full-force into building camaraderie right away, but if a shy newbie sees the payoff of hanging around with men this warm and welcoming, and emulating them, he might just turn out to be a solid-gold addition to the group some day.
Those men who were roaring with laughter, standing intimately shoulder-to-shoulder and grinning widely all last evening didn't show up that way the very first time. They had to acclimate. Now, they are phenomenal role-models for more and more men who hunger for connectedness and authenticity. It's an ever-accelerating effect.
Last night was a perfect example of how we can be, when we are at our best. I'm deeply proud of my brothers. The men who showed up early and set the space up did so, hoping for this result. The HARNESS party is OUR party. It's not some remote, top-down, typical "circuit party" based on shallowness and posturing. We've all tried that for decades, and it doesn't work.
HARNESS was designed this way from the beginning, with full involvement from all parts of our community, and before it started, I saw our city's best volunteers and leaders hustling around getting the place prepped. They don't get paid for this. What is their payoff? They know that a monthly event like this one is a way to get men together in a way that matters for the maximum number of people. It's not a bunch of random strangers bringing their individual agendas, it's a swarm of mutual trust and cooperation.
I can't think of anything nicer than that. The mutual investment keeps paying off. I'm boggled by the history that I am witnessing. This is the best ride of my life!