Hey J my precious son,
Since my first post about it, I’m getting both excited and nervous as I start planning our December staycay.
Truth is, I’ve never in a million years thought I would be undertaking such an ambitious project — to take us away for a father-son bonding retreat.
Just us two.
To take us where we both need to reach.
A transcendence or metamorphosis
I’ve been besotted by this catchword “transcendence” ever since I started working on the first draft of my book.
The whole point of embarking on my book-writing journey more than a year ago, was this idea of gleaning important life lessons. Lessons that would allow me to transcend beyond what I know; beyond what I was to what I could be.
And, along the way, keeping a record of it as my unfinished life continues to unfold.
This is something I very much wish for you too — this transcendence, or metamorphosis if you will.
Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
And based on my research and reading, there are no better ways to transcend for tweens like you and newbie parents like me than through rites of passage.
So what’s the big deal about rites of passage?
Growing up, I didn’t have enlightened parents who understood the importance of taking their children through different rites of passage during key stages of life. Key stages like “child to teen” and “teen to young adulthood”.
Blame it on their humble background, lack of awareness and education, or just my luck of the draw.
No one gets to choose their parents anyway, so for me to still blame them now seems fruitless.
But the reality is inescapable, at least for your dear old dad here.
Rites of passage help mark one’s shift from one stage of life to another. They can take various forms too. Like a road trip or an overnight camp-out in the wilderness. Or simply taking a stroll to a park bench just to sit and talk about the future that lies ahead.
The point is to stake a proverbial marker or signpost that clearly represents the end of one phase of our lives, and the beginning of the next.
To help you and I see how far we’ve come, and the journey that lies ahead. To make preparations and plans how to navigate the uncertain but hopeful future.
For me, your grandparents’ “oversight” with instituting rites of passage in my growing up years has led to many struggles as I tried to mature into adulthood on my own.
Through what was basically my “dark ages of teen-hood”!
Dark ages of teen-hood
Thinking back, I still shudder as I recall those dark years as a teen struggling to find my place in the world.
It wasn’t just about the acne and pimples (though thankfully I didn’t have all that many of them). Those years were like a series of dark polaroid films, one after another, showing my ineptness as I navigated one teenage angst after another. Daily stepping out of my home with uncertain and reluctant feet.
I rarely looked forward to being out there, in a world that felt foreboding and even harsh at times. Yes, as you may already know (or if not you will), teenagers can be a nasty bunch!
So there I was, an awkward teen on two spindly limbs, trying to keep up with the hip and chic crowd. There was always some clique that seemed to have it all, bangs and all. They held sway nearly every space they occupy; even teachers seem to sidestep them in order not to upset their aura.
But it’s not just about these obnoxious kids who have everything. My dark ages of teen-hood had at its core the unavoidable question of the cosmos: who am I and how do I fit into the bigger scheme of things?
Fitting in and finding my place
Fitting in is going to be one of your biggest challenges in these teen years my son.
I know I know. I can already hear you protesting vehemently that you’re your own person; that you don’t care about what others think of you, and whether you will make it or not in “teen-dom”.
But son, I also know your protest to be posturing and bravado. For deep inside, we’re all wired to desire connection and to belong. It was true for me and countless others, and it will be true for you. Heck, it already is my son! Just look at how on play dates you try to accommodate the play preferences of the friends you invite over to our home.
I’m not saying that playing a good host means insisting on having things your way. That would be unacceptable.
However, you can’t deny that at some level, you desire acceptance and affirmation from your peers.
It’s human nature.
But if we don’t transcend beyond trying to fit in and towards establishing our own identities, we’re doomed to wallow in sorrow for much of our lives!
Take it from me son. I know full well the effects of that because in many ways now, I still live out that “missed transcendence” as I struggle to find acceptance.
Time to rewrite history!
So son, I don’t want my legacy to become yours, nor your brother’s.
For I firmly believe that rites of passage must be instituted across all your major life stages. It may not ensure a smooth-sailing life hereon (not that anything can really), but it will help immeasurably.
According to the Artofmanliness.com, there are three phases that constitute a proper rite of passage.
So starting with the planned staycay next month, we’re going to kick things off with a “separation”. Daddy’s gonna take you away from familiar environments to somewhere new and different. There, we will embark on a planned series of activities to initiate you into discussions and reflections on important life matters.
Matters like how the coming years of teen-hood will be for you (and me), and the challenges you will wrestle with like body changes, increased stress in school, relationships with the opposite sex and making sense of the world we live in.
Yes son, I promise this will be one retreat for the family annals.
Then let’s do this!
Loving you to the moon and back!