A Circle Of Twelve was formed in September 2008 with the mandate to empower men and boys around the planet through educational grants, technical training, health care support, and community outreach programs. We are twelve men meeting monthly in Los Angeles – men of diverse backgrounds who share a common value of connecting to spirit and providing opportunities to pay forward the many blessings we each have received in our lives.
Since our inception, we have advocated entering a conversation both about giving and about the redefinition of traditional concepts of masculinity. Now, we have an opportunity to extend this conversation to the blogosphere. While our entries will be written by men, they are intended for men and women, girls and boys – anyone who is interested to participate in dialogues about generosity of spirit and about our commitment to forging new ideas regarding who we are as men – in relation to ourselves, to each other, to our friends and loved ones and to the communities in which we live.
In future installments, we hope to engage you with stories of challenge and triumph; we hope to stimulate you with ideas about initiation and eldering, love and grief, music and laughter, fathering and faith, heroism and the global community; we hope to touch you with tales of the recipients of our A Circle of Twelve grants as well as with music, poetry, spoken word and a good joke or two; and we hope to connect you with others all over the world whose work and wisdom contributes to conversations about service, spirit, empowerment, gratitude and the evolving masculine journey.
So join us on this path of discovery together. A Circle of Twelve’s blog is a place for us not only to dialogue about what we need as individual men and what we can offer to the collective but also to be open to how your input and comments can shape and influence our mission. The weaving begins……..
I keep urging the circle for contributions to this blog. Tonight I urge myself. So here I am with no plan of what to say. Just put down a few thoughts I guess. Hmm. Let’s see. Well where am I at? I’ve got Stevie Wonder on the turntable right now. Needle to the wax. Music Of My Mind. As dynamic as Stevie himself wanted these grooves and tones to be. It was released in 1972, the year I was born. I came to know it and love it about 15 years ago and it’s moving me again today in each and every cell, fiber and filament of my being. He’s practically responsible for every sound on this album save for a couple of solos and the thing just oozes with his joy for life. I just figured something that so faithfully gets my soul-joy pumping year after year, should must be shared. That’s all I got. Go soak in some Stevie.
While many skills and attributes in life require experience and maturity for mastery, some things are natural to us and seem to be part of our instinctual knowing. These skills emerge fully formed at a very young age. Perhaps surprisingly, one of these skills is the ability to give of ourselves selflessly.
Harvard psychologists F. Warneken and M. Tomasello published research (“Varieties of Altruism in Humans and Chimpanzees”) in 2009 in the journal, Trends in Cognitive Science, demonstrating the predisposition of very young children to help others achieve their goals, share resources and provide helpful information to their peers. The toddlers in this study would naturally fetch out of reach objects for their peers and open cabinets when another toddler was struggling with the latch, without any rewards or reinforcements from adults.
What does this mean? It means that when we were 14-18 months old, we already knew how to help each other. And we wanted to do so! As we grow older, the press of life can make us forget this simple skill, abandoning our altruistic natures as we engage more competitively in the name of self-preservation.
But what would it look like if we all remembered what we knew when we were babes? What would it be like if we instinctively helped others achieve what might otherwise be out of reach and if each of us did his or her part to open doors for others that they couldn’t open themselves? Perhaps we would have a world where we look out for one another, support one another, and in so doing, all prosper more than we would if we had to go it alone.
My challenge, dear ones, is to make an experiment with yourselves. Spend a week remembering what we knew about giving. Each day, scan for opportunities to open doors, provide information, extend an opportunity, or move something closer to somebody else in need. Maybe it’s a loved one or a friend or a child in your life; maybe it’s a co-worker or employer; maybe you’ll even find an opportunity to reach out to a complete stranger to give of yourself. And at the end of that week, come back here and share what happened. Let’s see if the folks at Harvard were right.
Back on June 7th A Circle Of Twelve joined up with Y.O.G.A. For Youth by sending 5 members to the Watts Learning Center Charter Middle School to offer mentoring inspiration about living with hope and an abiding connection to spirit. The members offered the young men and women insights on what you need inside of you to support making your dreams happen and how to keep the focus on the positive.
Xavier leads a rhythmic visualization journey
Under the lone tree in the schoolyard (designated as the Sacred Tree of the Ancestors) Xavier Eikerenkoetter (West African drummer), Steve LeSieur (Musician/Engineer), Peter Walden (West African drummer), Michael Molin-Skelton (Sacred Dancer) and Akahdahmah Jackson (Medicine Drummer) met with 60 inner city children ages 11-13 and engaged them with breath work, movement, drumming and ritual as a means of visualizing their destiny and manifesting their goals through right action in the moment. The children were excited, eager and had a hunger to learn new things that were both challenging and rewarding. Their commitment and willingness to engage was contagious and much fun was had by all involved.
A Circle of Twelve members were deeply touched by how much faith these children have in themselves and how willing they are to connect to what is positive and sacred in the world despite the adversity they face in their lives.
i was recently asked to be interviewed by richard piscuskas for his potent project entitled 30 days of manhood. i feel the process turned over the soil in my belief system of defining manhood. i have noticed that just being asked to participate has shifted/lifted my consciousness in my interactions with men in my everyday life. both sides of my male ego, light and dark, have risen to the surface. on the positive side i feel humbled and honored at being asked to be a part of this endeavor and on the negative side feelings of insecurity and inadequacy arise at the prospect of being compared with other men. hopefully i can view both of these not with judgment, but rather as another opportunity to breathe and be awakened. so goes the journey of the 21st century man.
if your interest is piqued by this opportunity to glimpse into the secret archives of manhood follow this link to my interview for 30 days of manhood. visit the link above to view all of richard’s wonderful interviews.