The answer might surprise you.
This coming weekend is a double celebration for me. Firstly, it’s my birthday. It’s my 43rd, I am not embarrassed to say. And this year, Father’s Day falls the day after my birthday. Saturday – Sunday. Bang – Bang. Wanna know how I’m celebrating? I’m working. Yep. Working hard all weekend. This weekend is my Men’s Weekend Retreat at Kripalu. I’ll be up there with a circle of men from all over the country diving into the process of transformation and self reflection. It’s not a bass-fishing, beer-drinking, skeet-shooting kind of men’s weekend. It’s a weekend where I’ll be leading men into a process that many find intimidating, some find terrifying, and few go easily. For men to plunk down the cash for the retreat, and sacrifice their game-watching, steak-grilling, lawn-tending weekends at home, they must be serious. They must be super sincere and ready to go deep into their process. They are going make me work.
Men-only events are much harder than mixed gender events. There is a sort of polite levity that happens in mixed gender events. More people, more laughter. There’s a mix of people some people are just looking, others are deep seekers. They are still super potent and authentic – but they are not as gritty, not as intense as the men’s weekends. When men are together working through their bondage, it’s for real. There’s absolutely no bullshit, and men want every ounce of effort to count. And unlike a meditation weekend where I can be “the master”, in the men’s weekends, I am right there with the participants searching the same plot of ground, sitting before the same raging fire as a man-in-process. Plus, I will be there and away from my family for a big chunk of Father’s Day. It’s going to be hard work, it’s kind of a sacrifice for me – but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
If I could choose the best birthday/Father’s day combination gift, I would choose to do this work for 1000 years.
Does that sound crazy? It may be, but for me, doing this work is the best gift from the Universe. To receive is great. To grow and enjoy transformation and awakening is, of course, sublime. But to be part of the cycle of giving and receiving – to be the one there welcoming those men as they awkwardly come into the room, to be there when that “ahh-haa” moment happens where they realize how fulfilling it is to hear and be heard by other men – to be able to introduce ideas and tools that will save marriages and clarify men’s visions…. to be able to do that and be a part of that. It’s absolutely priceless.
Over the years, my most profound and transformational practice has been this practice of service. To serve, to offer my time and my labor and my heart to something greater, something higher – is my greatest gift. From cooking chai at 4 am for 800 people, to scrubbing pots, to sitting at Kripalu teachings retreats, it’s my favorite thing in the world. Thanks to everyone – the students and fellow teachers who gives me a chance to serve. And thanks to my family for their sacrifices that allow me to keep on serving.
The Creator gives all kinds of boons to people. For me, the best boon is a tough assignment. Hopefully he’ll assign me to you soon.