As young boys we grow and learn to play imaginary games – with shared fantasies of trucks and rocket ships.
“Do you want to play trip to Mars?” we say, and the other one knows exactly what we mean. “You go up high, I’ll sit down low and we’ll drive this cardboard box up to the stars before lunch. You will be the pilot while I navigate and stop any aliens from jumping in the back”.
We don’t have to explain the rules or have a meeting to decide the parameters, it’s all communicated implicitly in the cheeky and knowing looks we exchange.
The unwritten motto in it all – have fun and be as joyful as you like.
When we become grown-up men we continue to play games, but of a different kind. We joke, josh and throw teasing, hooking remarks at each other, inviting the other one to partake in this ‘banter’ game.
“Hey the homeless man just rang to say he wants his trousers back.”
“Read your book mate – thanks, it was great… for using as toilet paper that is.”
“What kind of haircut is that? – you look like you have had a fight with a lawnmower.”
To any being who dropped in from outer space and had not been indoctrinated into this strange man-ritual, they would probably be shocked and wonder ‘what on earth is this?’
This adult game is not the same as the light-hearted, innocent, wonder full, non-competitive ones we play as kids – but an activity that comes loaded with sharp barbs and spikes. When we meet each other and ex-change these put downs and ridicules in the name of ‘having a laugh,’ it’s like we have already started to fight (no matter how polite) – I slap you then invite you to have a go right back at me. What does it say about us as men that this is our traditional and common way to relate?
We joust and spa with verbiage, taking turns to pin the other to the ground with our words. All of this perpet-uates a dynamic between us all of the fight to be superior where the ‘winner takes it all’. It sustains the myth that we are here to compete and strive to push others down, and forever traps us in a loop where neither man gets to be real or reveal anything deeper than ‘I will join in this mean charade of exchanging ridicule as long as I’m not asked to truly be myself’.
This way of bonding by joking at each other’s expense is by no means restricted to our acquaintances or blokes we may meet down the pub. This joshing, paying out and putting down can be the whole way of relat-ing for so many ‘best friends’, siblings, sons and dads. Camouflaging how we feel behind jokes and japes can become the only way we communicate our whole life.
This game of banter never sat well with me, but nonetheless I would find myself instantly joining in when it was thrown my way, in case I might be singled out as ‘the one who wouldn’t play’. There was an implicit threat, a bullying energy that seemed to say, ‘whatever you do don’t mess with this!’.
Yet as I grew older and started to see the true impact this way of relating had, I started to leave whenever it occurred. But this only seemed to make the banter worse next time I returned to the person or group. After a while I started to grasp that I needed to stay present with the other man but simply not engage in the hurling of ‘joking’ words.
This takes a lot of focus to pull off at first and can seem harsh as every man instinctively knows that any sem-blance of being rebuffed or ignored is kryptonite to most of us. As I changed my participation in this banter game, I noticed what came at me from other men also changed. Those that spoke to me started to become more decent and respectful in their approach.
As I came to care more for myself and other men and truly wanted to connect with them, I found they started to reciprocate right back at me.
One day I was at a seminar with a friend who I had not seen for a while. He let me know he was planning to relocate to Japan for a year or two. Without a second’s pause I replied immediately – a joke about how I’d be better off without him. Of course, he’d get it and know I wasn’t serious right? As soon as it left my mouth I could see his face fall as if he’d been physically attacked. I had not meant ‘anything by it’ but I could see my words had hit him hard on a deep level inside. He went quiet and withdrew and our conversation quickly ended then and there.
Reflecting afterwards I could see I felt sad actually that he would not be around – a bit hurt deep down that he was leaving town just as we were getting close and even a bit jealous of the ad-venture he was going through – and all of this had been underneath and contained within the ‘joke’ that I had said.
‘Many a true word is said in jest’, or so the saying goes.
As men, the truth is we feel a lot a lot of the time, and we don’t always know how to deal with that – we’ve been trained and had it ingrained in us that we need to be strong and show no sign of weakness or emotion and so when we try to bottle it up it can come out skewed and distorted in the ‘throwaway’ things we say.
This experience made me realise if I’m not connected to me and self-aware of what’s happening for me emotionally, all sorts of things can come out of my mouth. Usually, if I am feeling lost or uneasy or anxious about something, I have found what I end up saying can be exactly what will hurt someone else; a comment or remark tailored as if by design to hit a very sore point they hold inside.
This is the nature of energy: when we speak it comes with much more than the words and has much more impact than we think, whether it’s the truth we say or lies we let come out.
"The moment you are not Love, you are not you"Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 325
This way of sweeping away how we feel and using ‘banter’ and ‘having a laugh’ to interrelate might seem like harmless fun to us, but ultimately it’s just a way to escape and hide, avoiding the depth of intimacy on offer when we meet, and the opportunity to express and share how we truly feel inside.
So much that’s loving, caring and needs to be shared goes unsaid. Appreciation of each other and what we bring is neglected too, in favour of verbal sticks and stones we can throw for dramatic effect. When we are asked to express what we actually feel – at a funeral, wedding or birth of a child – we either run a million miles away, or crumble in a teary mess as if we are being asked to confess.
It’s a ‘dog-eat-dog’ ‘man’s world’ we say, where only the strongest survive and so naturally the only way we can relate is by testing and wrestling to dominate. But this way of being is just a façade, ultimately to avoid the truth of what we as men are naturally designed to be: tender, sensitive, caring, so deeply holding, loving, delicate and intimate in every move. An embodiment of brotherhood and equality.
If you ever get the chance to see two men embrace free from shame or start to speak from their heart about what they cherish deep down, it melts you to your very core. Like a great and amazing feat – an Everest seems to have been climbed to witness such sweetness unchained and unreserved, set free in this world – yet the plain fact is that deep down this is our true and natural way to be.
So every time we partake and play a part in jousting games, using our words to tease, hide our feelings and push others away, we perpetuate this way of being for men everywhere in this world. Equally, every time we choose to observe and understand this behaviour for what it is and share and open up about who we are underneath, we help undo and unravel this habit of holding back our delicateness and sensitivity.
Everything we say really is either an opportunity to harm or to heal, depending on which route and energy we choose to take. To speak carelessly, with only the intent to obscure and shield, poisons us more than we can ever know. Or maybe we do all know deep down, that the harsh joke or put down was actually never funny in the first place?
"Love is easy to express and, Love is endless. Why would we use any other form of energy, when love is the only one that does not drain and is in eternal Divine supply?"Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 340