I’ve never thought of myself as a “man”. Not in the sense of gender, but in the sense of title or age.
I hadn’t thought about the fact that up until recently I had always thought of myself as a “boy” or a “guy”–never a man. To me, that was a title, something that was bestowed or achieved in some great accomplishment or recognition amongst peers. Marriage, career, property, hobbies, pursuits… something in that cadre of the unobtainable (for me at least).
Or so I thought.
It dawned on me that I didn’t have any recognition or rituals to mark the passing or transformation of the “boy” into the “man” that other people seem to see me as these days. Much like how some Buddhists seem to believe that enlightenment ebbs-and-flows, I’d had fleeting glimpses of it. Just enough to give me some kind of idea as to how things could be different.
Just as soon as I’d seen it and recognized it for what it was, it would always fade.
Back into some sort of drama. Some kind of waking-nightmare. Something I’d gotten myself entangled with or been sucked into. I admittedly wallowed in the bleakness of it all, feeling miserable for myself and spreading it to everyone else.
I realize now that though there were no celebrations or rituals to mark that transition, I think I found my own. No rituals involved, no libations, none of that stuff; just the simple recognition that others see me as a more complete and responsible person now. That in working so hard to be responsible and take responsibility–that in itself marked the change.
No transits of celestial bodies, no ritual sacrifices, no wild hunts or orgiastic, Dionysian calamities (though, that might have been fun a decade ago)… just a simple set of practices that became not just rote, but embedded in who I am.
I had to find that on my own. I had to figure out how to fix a car, how to pay bills on time, how to make sense of the world, what my values were, and the kind of person I wanted to be. I didn’t have a father figure to look to–mine was too busy working his ass off trying to put food on the table and distract himself.
I had to figure all of this out on my own, from my own volition and perseverence.
If that’s not proof of hard work, strife, and growth… then I don’t know what is.