At the BIG Mens Group (Hargate Hall November 13-17) this year I met Tom Falkner for the first time. He and I were in a small (x4 man) group together. Tom is about 70, Canadian, and the father of Rob Falkner. It was his first time at this men’s group. However, it was certainly not his first experience of men’s groups as Tom had been in the thick of them in London in the 1970’s (‘encounter groups’ in those days and more!).
There were many things I immediately liked about Tom, especially:
1. Turning up and being present
2. Being direct (“I can’t understand you Brits when you are are too subtle with your words”, he’d say)
3. Talking about the porous quality of ageing.
It is the last – the porous quality of ageing – which has really struck a chord and lasted with me. Of course when Tom spoke about this aspect of ageing, he was far more direct. “It is about loss and my lack of attention”, he said.
“Loss and different qualities of attention”, I replied and we talked about a question which I have been turning over in my mind: What if the whole of my/our ageing happens for a purpose? Tom and I liked the shift of emphasis.
Loss and different qualities of attention.
Don’t get me wrong, the worst of ageing – decline and the body’s deteriation – is no joke. But what if ageing is also about revealing our true character? This is where we also connect with a porous quality: What if our ageing is about becoming leaky for a purpose? Leaking in, and leaking out energy and passion to colour the world bright.
(“And her dark pubic hairs”)
Before we parted Tom and I agreed to continue to explore this further together, and under the above call-sign (NB: including the brackets). (“And her dark pubic hairs”) – the phrase comes from Norman Mailer’s 1984 novel Tough Guys Don’t Dance. For more see http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12469.Tough_Guys_Don_t_Dance
Leaking in: a voice has also told me recently to ask for help – “Help us to all tell our stories”, it told me to say. We invite others to join us in the exploration of loss and different qualities of attention. And using different kinds and forms of ficto-documentary activity* .The voice went on, try face to face, on paper, privately and publicly, and online. Here is a recent example of one storytelling style:
“But the histories are rubble now and mostly lost in time, and there are only a few surviving fragments of individual stories, broken narratives, a dusty blue atmosphere of men’s past sadness, and a few lasting things like photographs”.
This is a sentence I wrote recently from out of one of three stories I have to tell about men in my family who mean the most to me – Grandfather, Father, Brother. See previous post and below to find out the blogs where you can read them and more.
* On Loss and Different Qualities of Attention: different kinds of ficto-documentary activity
- “Ageing is no accident” Theory
David Hillman. Force of Character, and the lasting life (1999)
- Who Are You?
Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery (until 15th March 2015, FREE Admission)
- Blogs and ‘CAT and the Listening Tree’ websites to listen to stories and share our own