Perhaps it’s reaching 45, seeing my son with my father and the relationship they have, coming from a community that has always valued the presence of multiple generations living together. However I’m becoming more and more aware of the lack of male elders and elder energy in my life.
Some of this comes from being part of an inter-generational family where my paternal grandfather lived with us until he died (I was 16 at the time). My maternal grandfather lived close by as well. Both of them were significant presences in my life and my growing into manhood and fatherhood I believe, has suffered from their absence.
I like to imagine a time when the sons, fathers and grandfathers lived together under one roof or in one community supporting, encouraging and nurturing each other. Grandfathers teaching their sons how to become fathers who in turn taught their sons to become men. I can see myself sitting in that intergenerational circle; laughing, crying, sharing, listening, accepting and being accepted.
Courtesy of Shaky Shergill
There are times it feels as if we are heading towards a future where this timeless image is being lost in favour of an instantaneous snapshot. Do I really need to know that someone on the other side of the world went for a milkshake and it was good? More importantly do I really want to forget the names of my grandfathers, their fathers and grandfathers? My elders, my ancestors who came before me and in many ways without my even realising it helped me to become the man I am.
Reaching midway in my life I’m becoming more and more aware of how time quickly time passes and that I’m getting closer to death; the decade between 20 and 30 felt like a long time, 30 to 40 didn’t feel as long and as I turn 45 this year it feels as if I’ve just recovered from the hangover from my 40th birthday so how can I be 45? What will it feel like to be 50, 60, 70 and beyond? How do I deal with the successes, the failure and the regrets?
There is a part of me which is looking for other men; wiser men, older men, elders who I believe are travelling this road and want to share their tales as much as I want to hear them. However, unlike my predecessors I can see that circle consisting of a rainbow of men; from different lands, speaking different languages, wearing different clothes but still sons of the same mother.
This and the following articles in this series are my attempt to start a conversation with the elders.