Coyote

I just finished today a wonderful book by authors Jim Horton and Don Bowak called Marking Life Stages which describes how New Zealanders offer opportunities for their young people to engage in safe and secure rituals that assist them in their transition from being children to being adults. They describe a thoughtful and intentional process wherein parents, guides and elders lead young people through their passage from childhood to adulthood.

We all have many transition points in our lives – going to school, graduation, first drink, first kiss, first job, marriage, – that powerfully influence the rest of our lives.

Shooting a coyote on my fathers farm was one of those transition points for me. It may be the reason that I never became a hunter. The coyote was not harming me or our farm. In fact, he had followed me for several days as I cultivated the field.

I never told anyone about what I had done. In hindsight, I wish I had talked about it with someone older and wiser. But I did not.

Now that I am old, it occurs to me that in our society, we do not place enough attention on having rites of passage, for our children, but also for men and women my age. A retirement party, some speeches and off we go. I used to think that adolescence was the most challenging time of a person’s life. But now, the data says that older men have the highest rates of suicide. And in the subset of men with prostate cancer the rate is higher still.

I am interested in developing ways that elders can assist children grow into adults as well developing ways that we older people can assume more elder roles in our communities

I think we need to talk about this. A lot.

Copying My Dad

I remember thinking my Dad was being uncharacteristically dramatic when, after buying a new Ford Crown Victoria in 1981, he said it would be the last car he would ever buy. Now that I am the same age as he was then, I understand. Sweet memories. I wish he was still with us – I would love to talk with him now about how to be a man. I didn’t then appreciate fully how wise and strong he was.

Writing poetry is a way for me to talk with him. I like to think he would be interested. I imagine him listening, considering and giving me his response. I would love that so much.

Having cancer has helped me explore what it means to be a man. Perhaps any life changing event would do that. Life becomes precious. All of the good things become precious – the people I love, my country, the earth. And I want more and more to understand everything. I intend to write about this – moving on from understanding prostate cancer to trying to understand life.

In future blogs, I will be posting poems about power, weakness, soul, fairness, bullying, gratitude, prayer, sadness, happiness, toughness, terrorists, envy, lust, anger, pride, a lot about fear and a lot about love. And anything else that comes to mind.

I think Dad will be watching. I will try to live up to his example.

That Crown Victoria was his last car. He died ten years later.