Staffing the ManKind Project at The Comb 2012

As a first time staffer this March in The Comb, I was picked up somewhere in north London by 3 men and spent the journey experiencing in a mixture of fear, trepidation, and pride. One of my dearest friends was being initiated that weekend and I wanted him to have the perfect experience. Being there I knew I would keep my distance until his journey was complete, but I wanted to be in the background for his initiation. It was a privilege to be of service to him and the other 40 initiates.

I quickly learnt how things work behind the scenes. A kind of ordered chaos, everyone sort of knew what they needed to do, and those that didn’t quickly found out. The camaraderie was incredible, I felt fully alive, acknowledged, and renewed an enormous awe and respect for the work, the structures and the way the staff listened for each other’s greatness. I experienced teamwork, laughter, a shedding of the straightjacket of perfection. 80 men danced together to create magic.

Somehow the gods shined on us – we had time for a staff sweat lodge the first evening, and I returned to the comfort of the infinite darkness that I had experienced on my own initiation several months before.

I had emerged then as a viewer of my own life, sat at the very back of a cinema 50,000 light years deep, staring at a screen the size of the cosmos, disconnected from the emotional churn I had spent the previous 33 years of my life wading through, responding to, being had by. In its place was an eerie silence.

I was no longer afraid of being alive, as if some great noisy survival machine had switched off, and now the stillness was deafening, unnatural, almost terrifying. I remember ringing my staff support manĀ and asking him if this was normal, is this right? He said – it sounds pretty good to me!

And with that I realised that even then, I was so used to the context of there being something wrong, something to fix, something to avoid, and protect against, that when it was no longer there, and just peace in its place, my internal dialogue had nothing to grind against, and my guts nothing to wrestle with. I so wanted this for every man and woman. True internal freedom and peace.

Over time, the doubts crept in, the inner voice found fault and judgement and conspired against this peace. Staffing was my way to revisit, renew this profound peak experience, and to support other men in the way I had been supported, unconditionally loved, forgiven and acknowledged. No small order for little me!

So it was an easy choice to say “yes” and staff. I found extraordinary joy in being of service. I wept during the visualisation on the Sunday. I connected to the innate humility, love and joy of men released from fear and their deep wounds. And it touched part of me that I now am not afraid to hide. Aho!

Benjamin D