I’m at Blue Skies, a music festival that started out 38 years ago as a picnic. It’s a collection of music, holistic workshops and lots of friends.
I’ve been through a catharsis here that I want to share with you.
It all started on the Saturday morning when Maike burst out “I have to go to the workshop on Ho’Oponopono, the Hawaian forgiveness process”. I didn’t react immediately. But 10 minutes later I realized I needed/wanted to be there too. I walked through the woods to the Teepee where about 50 people were listening to a man and woman explain that when we have a conflict we are to ask for forgiveness of the other in the following way:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Flash to the next morning, Sunday. Ferron, the famous female singer has performed Saturday night. Now she is giving a workshop on songwriting. There are many, perhaps a 100, people in this open air workshop. She explains that she writes songs by going deep into herself looking for stories that move her. She calls this going into deep water. Then she asks people from the audience to tell stories about their lives. Members of the mostly female audience respond one at a time and I start crying. None of the men in the audience get up. I’m crying and don’t really know why.
Finally, near the end of the workshop one man speaks and asks a question. Ferron responds. By now I have been raising my hand to speak a few times. I want to speak. I want to share my sense of vulnerability that as a man I don’t feel safe sharing my most vulnerable moments the way Ferron has been guiding the women to do.
I call out, “Ferron”. I have a loud voice and she responds.
I say, “As a man I don’t feel safe speaking about my most vulnerable moments.” I’m holding back tears at this point. She asks me to say more and I say that it’s important for women to know that men don’t feel they can make themselves vulnerable as they will lose the respect of women who want them to be there to protect and provide for them. I don’t know if I said it quite that way, but that was the message I wanted to convey. In retrospect I realize that I had been inspired by the Ho’Oponopono workshop to not blame men for being less open than women.
Perhaps the reason I had been crying was because I feel men are judged for not being open about their feelings. I was lashing out in a way, telling this mostly female audience that I did not want them to judge men negatively for being less open than women tend to be.
Ferron was wonderful. She said, “We are fighting the same war.” It was a special moment for me. She called me up from my seat where I’d been until then and we hugged.
The audience erupted in loud applause and I felt heard.
The workshop ended shortly after that. Several people came up to me to thank me for speaking out. One woman spoke to me about her son who she was worried about. Somehow my sharing had helped her. Other women just offered thanks.
One man came to me and wanted to speak at length. We ended up back at my spot in a shelter at the festival and exchanged contact information. I spoke to him about the Mankind Project and the New Warrior Training Adventure. He lives in Toronto so he may take the weekend in October.
It’s hard to evoke the deep and profoundly moving emotions that course through me as this story unfolded. It was a gift to me to be able to speak about my vulnerability, vulnerability and fear, that I perceive to exist in most men and to be heard by a strong, famous, feminist, public figure like Ferron. The Blue Skies Music Festival Program describes Ferron as “the Johnny Cash of lesbian folk singing”.
Her support of men in opening ourselves up means a lot to me.
*I have two reasons for calling this article Is Silence Golden? The first is an obvious reference to the silence of men regarding sharing vulnerable moments.
The second is that I had sat reviewing the experience described here for almost a week, somehow unable to motivate myself to write it up as I had decided to do. Then, the Friday after Blue Skies ended and the last day at our rented cottage I heard the song “Silence is Golden” by the Tremolos and I started crying uncontrollably. I don’t know why, but my crying motivated me to sit down and write what you see above.
Bruce Rosove is a Certified Career and Relationships Coach as well as a Certified Emotional Fitness Coach and Coach Instructor. He has studied Non-Violent Communication under Marshall Rosenberg, is certified in Neuro Linguistic Programming, and has level one training in Inner Journey Facilitation. Bruce can be reached at: 613 233 8013 email: Bruce.Rosove@Rogers.com Blog: http://ThisMakesMeHappy.wordpress.com/