holding differences

How does the wounded boy hold differences or disagree with another? The wounded boy has a long, pot-holed road of possibilities: sulking exploding, being rigidly righteous, punishing the other with silence. The wounded boy has no core place inside for holding ambiguities, or differences. So, when he encounters any perceived differences, he feels immediately threatened and persecuted. He cannot tolerate these feelings so he acts out by blaming the other or blaming himself. There is no middle ground for holding mystery. The wounded boy is so fragile inside that when a difference is experienced, he must make the other wrong or he must be wrong. There are only two choices in this arena: hurt or be hurt. The man, having been a wounded boy engaged in being a blamer or being blamed, has slowly cultivated a third way of being in the world. This third way is to turn toward the feelings with mercy and compassion, to slow down and breathe with the feelings, to allow the feelings to be here. The man has cultivated a sacred ground for his intense feelings. This sacred ground could be an actual place, such as a trail in the mountains, or it could be a quiet resting place in his room at home. In this place, the man is in sacred relationship with his raw, vulnerable feelings. He practices non-judgment. He does not analyze or evaluate his feelings. What he does is something the wounded boy has little access to: loving kindness.

The man in his fullness gives himself a slowed down, kind and merciful space to be with whatever feelings are here. After the man has walked or sat quietly with his feelings, he might want to do something creative. These feelings are like a giant compost heap of creativity: writing, drawing, sculpting, playing music. The possibilities are endless. He may want to call on his friends to listen to his conflict. The man begins to grow what shamans call “a medicine body”, a body that can hold difficulty and conflict. This medicine body is like a fertile field that transfigures compost into beautiful plants and vegetables. After many years, the man has grown an immense medicine body, just like a farmer has grown several hundred acres on fertile ground.

The wounded boy has much to learn from this man. May this man pour these blessings onto the boy in a sacred light, or holy ground.


From the Place Where We Are Right


From the place where we are right,

Flowers will never grow in the spring

The place where we are right is hard and trampled like a yard

but loves and doubts dig up the world, like a plough, a mole

and a whisper may be heard from the place where the ruined house once stood.

~ Yahuda Amicai


The wounded boy is scattered, impetuous, reactive, and random in his decision-making. Thus, his behaviors tend to be fragmented, confusing and disturbing. The wounded boy has no center to live from. No inner life has been cultivated.   He finds no place of rest and refuge. He bounces off of the culture’s over-stimulated “Guyland” environment. When you ask a wounded boy: what do you want? He doesn’t know. He will tell you what he doesn’t want. He will tell you how messed up the world is, but he will not be able to articulate his deeper feelings and needs. That is the territory of the man. The man has a very strong sense of how he feels and what he needs. He knows what he doesn’t want but he also knows what he wants. And he will tell you. The reason the man knows what he wants is because he has a rich inner life. He values slowing down and listening to the myriad voices inside. He also values the deep nourishment of the wilderness.   A man will trek out into the wild to reset his psychic life. He knows the wilderness is a reflection of his own nature. He knows that when his inner nature is congruent with the outer nature of the world, his decisions and behaviors will be more clear and rounded. The man has learned to pause and listen until he can feel a resonance with his inner and outer world. He doesn’t make decisions until he feels this congruence inside his heart. He cultivates a deep intuitive wisdom that he can trust. If he doesn’t feel this congruence inside, then he will slow down even more and really listen. He will also ask for the counsel of elders. This is a man that both listens to his inner life and asks for help when he needs it.

The wounded boy lives from a very small, constricted world. His decision-making abilities are almost nonexistent. Thus he cannot be trusted. He has little substance in his life, little depth.  This pain of “lostness” is the very impetus that inevitably leads a boy toward self-reflection, what Carl Jung calls legitimate suffering. Hopefully a real man is around when the boy does go down into his muddled life. This is the wisdom where miracles happen.